Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate CakeFor Goodness Cake

To say that my daughter has varied interests would be the understatement of the century. She has a long list of activities she enjoys participating in, and they are all over the map. Drama Club? Yep. Ceramics Class? Woo Hoo! Gardening Club? Sure. Softball? Definitely! Bluegrass Fiddle? Yee Haw! Add a little paint or glitter and basic carpentry into that mix, and you get the idea. She is like a box of chocolates, and determination should have been her middle name instead of Jane.

On top of everything else, my daughter loves to cook. It makes sense that she would, given how much of my time I devote to cooking and food—she gets it through osmosis. Her love of cooking goes beyond the usual: she has become obsessed with certain shows on the Food Network. Guys Grocery Games would is one, but she has gone Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs over the Kids Baking Championship.

I admit, I found myself watching with her because it was fascinating. These kids were creating some amazing desserts—all on their own. Well, almost. They had to have had some help. (At least I have to tell myself that so I can feel better, because some of the items they made would have been difficult for most adults…including me.)

Either way, it made my daughter more daring and confident in the kitchen. (Me too!) I let her do more on her own. In fact, since my Dad’s Birthday celebration is this Sunday, I am going to let my daughter make Papa Dave’s favorite birthday cake…all by herself. ( I will still be monitoring. Giving an 8 year old, with a wild imagination, free reign can be a bit messy!)

Here is the recipe inspired by America’s Test Kitchen. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from Americas Test Kitchen
Serves 10 to 12

Their notes: Do not substitute semisweet chocolate chips for the chopped semisweet chocolate in the frosting—chocolate chips contain less cocoa butter than bar chocolate and will not melt as readily. For best results, don’t make the frosting until the cakes are cooled, and use the frosting as soon as it is ready. If the frosting gets too cold and stiff to spread easily, wrap the mixer bowl with a towel soaked in hot water and mix on low speed until the frosting appears creamy and smooth. Refrigerated leftover cake should sit at room temperature before serving until the frosting softens.

For the cake
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4  cup Dutch-processed cocoa (3/4 ounce)
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

For the frosting
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (cold)

Make the cake
Adjust your oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter. Dust the pans with flour and knock out excess.

Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium-sized heatproof bowl, and set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted, or about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to the chocolate mixture, and stir until it is thick and glossy: about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in smaller bowl. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (You can also do this by hand or with a hand mixer.), whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.

Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of sugar, increase the speed to high, and whisk until the mixture is fluffy and lightened in color, or about 2 to 3 minutes. Replace the whisk with a paddle attachment. Add your cooled chocolate to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, or about 30 to 45 seconds. Pause to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.

Add about one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. After each addition, mix until it is incorporated into the batter, or about 15 seconds. Repeat using half of the remaining flour mixture and all of the remaining buttermilk mixture. Don’t worry if your batter appears separated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix the batter at medium-low speed until it is thoroughly combined, or about 15 seconds. Remove the bowl from mixer stand and fold the batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, and smooth the batter to edges of pan with spatula.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, or about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before frosting, or about 45 to 60 minutes.

Make the frosting
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely-simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it is melted. Increase the heat to medium, and add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Stir with a heatproof rubber spatula until all the sugar is dissolved, or about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream into a clean bowl of your mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.

Place the mixer bowl over ice bath, and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against the sides of the bowl, or about 1 to 2 minutes. (The frosting should be about 70 degrees). Place the bowl on the standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, or about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until it is completely smooth.

Frost the Cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter* or cardboard round. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake with a spatula. Place a second cake layer on top. Then spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

*To keep the frosting from getting on your platter, protect the plate with 2 to 3 inch thick strips of waxed or parchment paper: overlap them slightly, and tuck them in—just a little—around the base of the bottom cake layer. They will be easy to pull out once the frosting is finished, and your serving platter will be pristine!

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