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Recipe File: Chocolate Cake
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Cooking For Engineers



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 16776766

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 7:46 am    Post subject: Recipe File: Chocolate Cake Reply with quote


Article Digest:
Making a beautiful cake is an art, and, like any art, it takes a great deal of innate talent and lots of practice to create. However, regardless of artistic inclination, everyone should be able to learn how to produce a great tasting cake by following the right recipe. This recipe for chocolate cake has a strong, but not overwhelming, chocolate taste that will put a smile on any chocolate lover.

The chocolate used in this cake is fairly important. Dutch processed chocolate has a different alkalinity than unprocessed chocolate and cacao powder, so these ingredients cannot be easily interchanged in this recipe. Use a high quality eating chocolate (such as Dagoba) and pure cacao powder.

Assemble the ingredients for the batter: 8 oz. (225 g) unsalted butter (softened), 1-1/4 cups (295 g) drinking water, 3/4 cup (105 g) all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup (85 g) cake flour, 1-1/2 cup (300 g) dark brown sugar, 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup (20 g) pure cacao powder, 2 oz. (55 g) 70% cacao dark chocolate, 1-1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. table salt, and 1/2 cup (225 g) sour cream.
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We'll also need two 9-in. round cake pans (or 3 8-in. round cake pans for a taller three-layer cake) and two sheets of parchment paper. Place a cake pan over each sheet of parchment paper. Using a pencil, trace a circle around the base of the cake pan.
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Fold the parchment paper in half so that the circle forms a half circle. Then fold in half again to form a 90 arc. Cut along this curve to form circles of parchment paper.
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The paper should fit perfectly into the bottoms of each cake pan. Using this folding and cutting technique is a bit simpler than attempting to neatly cut and entire circle.
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Grease the bottom and sides of each cake pan with the wrappers from the unsalted butter. (You can do this step now or after you cream the butter - whatever is convenient.)
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Line the bottom of each pan with the circles of parchment paper.
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Start by sifting the two flours, baking soda, and salt together. I like to sift them onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper because the paper can then be picked up and the contents poured out in an easy to control manner.
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Break up the chocolate into 1/2-inch (1 to 1.5 cm) squares and combine with the cacao powder.
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Bring the water to a boil and measure out 1-1/4 cup. Pour over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate has completely dissolved. Using water heightens the chocolate flavor of the mixture. (Try tasting chocolate melted in warm milk and compare it to the taste of chocolate melted in water. The milk based hot chocolate will feel thicker and richer, but the water based hot chocolate will have a surprisingly strong chcolate flavor.)
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Once the flour has been sifted and the chocolate melted into boiling water, cream the unsalted butter with a standing mixer equipped with a flat beater. Add the dark brown sugar and mix until butter and sugar are evenly mixed. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
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One at a time, add the eggs and beat on medium-high until fully incorporated.
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Mix in sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl down.

On low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the chocolate liquid. Repeat with another third of the flour and the rest of the chocolate. Finally, mix in the last third of the flour. Stop the mixer once the batter has just combined.
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Pour the batter into each cake pan as evenly as possible. (For my readers who love to be as precise as possible, the fastest way to split the batter evenly is to tare the weight of a cake pan on a digital scale and alternate pouring between two pans while massing them in turn. In about thirty seconds, you can evenly split the batter with as little as 1% error.)
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Bake both cake pans in a 350F (175C) oven on a rack set to the center position for 25 minutes or until a toothpick or wood skewer thrust into the center of the cake and withdrawn is clean or only has dry crumbs attached. Remove both pans from the oven and allow them to site on a wire rack for five minutes.
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Run a knife along the circumference of each round to release the cake from the pan. Invert the pan over a wire rack. The cake should gently release and rest on the rack.
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Immediately remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Waiting until teh cake begins to cool may result in some of the cake surface sticking to the paper and lifting off as you remove the paper.
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Allow the cake rounds to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare a batch of heavy frosting such as a buttercream to frost the cake.

Once the cake layers have fully cooled, apply a little frosting to the middle of a cake cardboard, plate, or whatever surface you plan on constructing your cake. In these pictures, I built my cake directly onto a cake keeper.
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Place one of the cake layers onto the dollop of frosting. The frosting acts as mortar - keeping the cake from moving while we work with it. I like to place the layer topside down. This is because the bottom of the cake layer will be facing up and the next layer of cake will be placed bottom side down. Since I use two identical cake pans, the dimensions of the bottoms of the cakes will always match. If the cake layers are not relatively flat, you can use a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) to cut any excess cake that might form a dome. Perform any cutting on the topside (the side resting on the wire rack).
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Place a sizable quantity of frosting onto the top of the cake layer (exact quantity will vary, but make sure you use less than half of your total frosting).
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Using an icing spatula or offset spatula, spread the frosting so it forms a flat layer. I find this easiest by holding the spatula so the edge is held at a 45 angle to the surface of the cake and the frosting is pushed out from the middle of the cake. I keep pushing the frosting out and rotating the platform that the cake is sitting on.
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Lay the second layer of cake onto the leveled frosting. Be sure to match the face of the cakes (bottom down if the first cake layer was placed top down) so the diameters will match.
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Apply frosting evenly to the sides of the cake. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the top of the cake. At this point you can practice the art of cake decoration - of which I am not well practiced.
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Despite the amateur appearance of the cake, the flavor of this cake can only be described as really chocolatey without any bitterness. The texture is halfway between crumbly and moist - dense but not heavy.
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Chocolate Cake (serves 12)
Butter and line two 9-in. round cake pans
Preheat oven to 350F (175C)
8 oz. (225 g) unsalted butter, softenedcreamcreambeat in 1 egg at a timebeat on medium speed for 10 sec. and scrapemix in flour and chocolate on low speed until just combined
(1/3 flour, 1/2 chocolate, 1/3 flour, 1/2 chocolate, 1/3 flour)
divide evenly into two 9-in round cake pans
or three 8-in. round cake pans
smooth batter to edges of pansbake 350F (175C) for 25 min.cool 15 min., run knife around perimeter,
invert onto wire rack and cool completely
assemble and frost
1-1/2 cup (300 g) dark brown sugar
3 large (150 g) eggs
1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream
1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
2 oz. (55 g) 70% cacao dark chocolatecombinewhisk until smooth
1/4 cup (20 g) pure cacao powder
1-1/4 cup (295 mL) waterboil
3/4 cup (105 g) all-purpose floursift
3/4 cup (85 g) cake flour
1-1/4 tsp. (5.75 g) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1.5 g) table salt

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Curious
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject: Brown Sugar Reply with quote

Brown sugar is typically "packed" when baking, meaning you smash the sugar into the measuring cup and then add the "packed" sugar to the other ingredients. I noticed in the picture that the sugar was loose, which would result in using less sugar. Just curious as to what led you not to pack the sugar in this case. Thank-you!
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 3:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Brown Sugar Reply with quote

Curious wrote:
Brown sugar is typically "packed" when baking, meaning you smash the sugar into the measuring cup and then add the "packed" sugar to the other ingredients. I noticed in the picture that the sugar was loose, which would result in using less sugar. Just curious as to what led you not to pack the sugar in this case. Thank-you!

Brown sugar should always be packed when measuring by volume. (Just take a dry measuring cup and fill it with brown sugar, then push down on it with the back of a spoon to squeeze as much air out as possible and keep adding brown sugar in this manner until the surface is level with the dry measuring cup.) Alternatively, you can simply measure by mass. 1 cup packed brown sugar is 200 g.

When using dry ingredients, I typically use an electronic scale unless the volume of the ingredient is a tablespoon or less. This left the sugar loose (as shown in the picture). It also seems to integrate faster into the butter when loose than when packed, but after those few additional seconds it takes for the stand mixer to break the packed sugar apart does not make a difference to the recipe.
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject: Water + Chocolate? Reply with quote

Wouldnt this run the risk of seize when adding the water, or does that only happen to prepared chocolate?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Wouldnt this run the risk of seize when adding the water, or does that only happen to prepared chocolate?

Don't worry about seizing. We're melting chocolate into the water (where water is the dominant ingredient). There is so much water in this recipe that the chocolate components (cocoa, sugar, fat) will be suspended in the boiled water.

Seizing is an issue when moisture is introduced to chocolate that we're melting that we want to keep as solid chocolate later. It occurs because chocolate very dry (almost no water content) and the cocoa and sugar particles will have a strong affinity for any water that is introduced. When melting chocolate (for chocolate and confection making), if a tiny amount of water is introduced, entire portions of the chocolate will solidify as the cocoa and sugar mass clumps together (out of the fat). Seized chocolate can no longer be used for chocolate making, but can still be used for baking applications such as this cake.
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 7:30 pm    Post subject: Cake rounds Reply with quote

Alright, where do I get those bad boys? And where can I get a cake comb to get that swank wavy pattern?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 8:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Cake rounds Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Alright, where do I get those bad boys? And where can I get a cake comb to get that swank wavy pattern?

The first mention of the round cake pans in the article is a link to amazon.com where they can be purchased for about $4 each.

The wavy pattern was achieved using a fork.
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Chef Below Knee
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 10:29 pm    Post subject: Cake Combs Reply with quote

One could also use a pick for an afro hairdo, but don't pick the fro before the cake...

Cool
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Alexandra



Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 7:15 pm    Post subject: flour type Reply with quote

I find it interesting that a mixture of cake and all-purpose flour is used instead of just cake flour. Do you think that the cake benefits from the extra gluten?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 9:15 pm    Post subject: Re: flour type Reply with quote

Alexandra wrote:
I find it interesting that a mixture of cake and all-purpose flour is used instead of just cake flour. Do you think that the cake benefits from the extra gluten?

I felt that with cake flour only, the texture was not as good (for a chocolate cake) as with the mix. All all-purpose flour felt a bit too heavy/dense for me.
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suanne
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject: Chocolate Cake and Butter Cream Frosting Reply with quote

Your presentation is very interesting. I also like the step by step approach. I will visit again.
Suanne
http://chowtimes.com
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abo gato
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 11:02 pm    Post subject: chocolate cake Reply with quote

I made this cake yesterday and we were very pleased with it. It is a very dark, moist cake. I guess the moistness is due in part to the dark brown sugar, the sour cream and the butter. I love dark brown sugar and use it instead of the light brown in any recipe that calls for brown sugar. It seems to give the baked good a better quality flavor.

Back to the cake, instead of using your buttercream frosting, I used my favorite frosting for chocolate cakes. Now, I almost always make a sheet cake because it's just easier to make and to transport. I leave it in the pan too and this frosting is rather liquid at first and everyone likes that it oozes down the edges and into the corners of the cake. So, here's the recipe:

1/2 c butter
5 T of dark cocoa....use the Dutch Processed dark kind and use sort of heaping tablespoons instead of leveled ones
6 T buttermilk

1 T vanilla...use the Mexican kind...La Vencedora...it is the best
about 1 pound of powdered sugar
1/2 c chopped pecans

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the cocoa and the buttermilk. When melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla and then start mixing in the powdered sugar. I used a little more than half of a 32 ounce bag last night. You want it to be oozy and liquidy as it will set up once it is refrigerated. When the sugar is mixed in well, add the pecans and pour it over your cake. Great stuff.

My chocoholic family loved it on top of this dark, dark cake
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LindaSF
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 3:18 pm    Post subject: chocolate cake Reply with quote

When making a chocolate cake, I often substitute coffee when water is called for. I LOVE the combination of coffee and chocolate, and find the chocolate flavor is enhanced. The substitution I use is 1:1, with great results. Have you tried this substitution in your recipe?

Love your web site and recipes, Michael! Keep up the great work!
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xinxin



Joined: 11 Dec 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can hardly get any of the ingredients used in this recipe (except eggs and water)Sad love it so much but...
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jentrippy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:11 pm    Post subject: scharffenburger chocolaTE Reply with quote

HELLO CAN YOU TELL WHETHER SCHARFFENBURGER 70% BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE WOULD BE AN APPROPRIATE CHOCOLATE TO USE FOR THIS RECIPE? THANKS!
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