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, 1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream, and 1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Line the bottom of each pan with the circles of parchment paper.
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.
Break up the chocolate into 1/2-inch (1 to 1.5 cm) squares and combine with the cacao powder.
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.)
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.
One at a time, add the eggs and beat on medium-high until fully incorporated.
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.
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.)
Bake both cake pans in a 350°F (175°C) 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.
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.
Immediately remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Waiting until the cake begins to cool may result in some of the cake surface sticking to the paper and lifting off as you remove the paper.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.}?>
Chocolate Cake (serves 12)
|Butter and line two 9-in. round cake pans|
|Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)|
|8 oz. (225 g) unsalted butter, softened||cream||cream||beat in 1 egg at a time||beat on medium speed for 10 sec. and scrape||mix 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 pans||bake 350°F (175°C) for 25 min.||cool 5 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 chocolate||combine||whisk until smooth|
|1/4 cup (20 g) pure cacao powder|
|1-1/4 cup (295 mL) water||boil|
|3/4 cup (105 g) all-purpose flour||sift|
|3/4 cup (85 g) cake flour|
|1-1/4 tsp. (5.75 g) baking soda|
|1/4 tsp. (1.5 g) table salt|