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The only time I get to make a full sized cake is when there is an occasion for many people to come together and eat cake. So when Sam’s birthday came up last week, I jumped at the chance to make a cake for him. Sam gave me free rein to do whatever I want with his cake (thanks Sam!), which of course means chocolate cake!!

The cake was a breeze to make, and keeps well if you need to make it days in advance. Just cool completely and double wrap it in cling film and foil to keep the cake moist. I learned how to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream during my class with Leigh last year and decided to flex/test my “new” found skills. I really like SMB as it is not overly sweet and the texture is so silky smooth.

I learned a new technique of filling the cake – place some buttercream in a baggie and snip off the end. Pipe around the edge of the cake before “filling” the cake as this will prevent the frosting from oozing out. I can proudly say that my crumb coating skills this time are actually much better!

However, I guess it can now be safely said that nothing in my kitchen goes smoothly, especially when it comes to frosting. While chilling my cake after crumb coating, I made the fatal mistake of putting the buttercream in the fridge as well. ARGH!!! The buttercream hardened and I couldn’t bring it back to a spreadable consistency. I tried to bring it back to room temperature and beat it again but the oil seemed to be leaking out and it looked as if it had half curdled. I hurriedly made another batch but this time it just wouldn’t come together and down the sink it went. Already running late for the dinner, I had to resign myself to yet another failed cake. The top of the cake looked good enough without any crumbs so I made some ganache and poured it on the edges of the cake. It would have looked so much better if I had paid more attention to pouring the chocolate! Overall, I am pretty happy with the cake and it tasted great!

I learned two very important lessons that day:
1. Pipe a wall around the edges of your cake to make it easier to spread.
2. NEVER chill your unused SMB in between frosting!
And of course, the biggest lesson that I never seem to learn: Never cook when you’re in a hurry (or angry)!

Perfectly Moist Chocolate Cake
Original recipe found here
 
340g unsalted butter
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
 
Heat oven to 180C. Line an 8″ deep cake tin (or 3 8″ cake tins) with greaseproof paper and set aside.
 
Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
 
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Pour batter into pan or divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking. If baking in a single pan,  bake for 50-60 minutes. Transfer layers to wire racks to cool.
 
Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Vanilla Beans
Adapted from here
 
1 cup sugar
5 large egg whites
453g unsalted butter, cubed
2 pods vanilla seeds
 
Place sugar and egg whites in a heat proof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch. The mixture between your fingers should feel completely smooth when rubbed between fingers.Remove bowl from heat. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until mixture has formed stiff and glossy peaks. Add the butter, one cube at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears to curdle; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla beans and beat just until combined.
 
Chocolate Ganache
100ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped
 
Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan. Once the cream starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate pieces. Let it rest for a minute, then stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside for it to set. If the ganache becomes too hard, heat up in a microwave in 10 second bursts.
 
Assembly
Tort and level each cake. If making 1 cake, split cakes evenly into 3 layers. Brush off crumbs and refrigerate. In the meantime, make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Place some buttercream in a baggie and snip off the end. Pipe the buttercream around the edge of the cake and place a dollop of buttercream in the middle. Spread and even out the buttercream. Place a layer of cake on top and repeat until all layers are filled. Crumb coat and chill for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the chocolate ganache. When the ganache has cooled, remove cake from fridge and pour the ganache around the edges of the cake, moving quickly. If you prefer to cover your cake, pour the ganache over the center of the cake. If necessary, tilt the cake a little to even out the ganache. Do not use a spatula to spread the ganache.
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