Tag: Cakes

Simple chocolate cake (black and white)

Simple chocolate cake (black and white)

This basic chocolate cake recipe has been around for years. Our simplifications are in using a scale and chilling the icing skim coat. As we have said before, you really don’t need to sift and measure the cake flour: just weigh it.  And before you start mixing up the batter, weigh the mixing bowl. This will make it easier to divide the batter into two pans.

The cake

  • 2 8-inch round cake pans
  • buttered parchment paper
  • 3 1-oz squares baking chocolate (unsweetened)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ cup shortening (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (224 g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup milk

cake pans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F
  2. Butter the cake pans and line them with parchment as we show here. Butter the tops of the parchment, too.

melt chocolate

  1. Put the chocolate, 2/3 cup sugar, ½ cup milk and beaten egg in a saucepan. Cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the shortening in a mixing bowl and stir to soften. Beat in the 1 cup sugar. Add the 2 eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
  1. Weigh out the flour and add the soda and salt and stir briefly.
  2. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the 2/3 cup milk.
  3. Blend in the chocolate mixture.
  4. Weigh the mixing bowl and the batter, subtract the weight of the empty mixing bowl, and divide by two.
  1. Put one cake pan on the scale, set the tare to zero and add half the weight of the batter. IN our case the total batter weight 1146 g, so we put slightly under 573g in each cake pan. (Some batter will stick to the sides and the spoon, so allow for that. We went for about 560 g each.)
  2. Bake in the 350˚ F oven for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Let the pans cool on the stove or on a rack, and then release the cakes from the pans and let them cool.

layers

Simple buttercream icing

  • 2 lb confectioners sugar
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2-3 Tb milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  1. Place the powdered sugar in a food processor
  2. Add the butter cut into 1 Tb pieces
  3. Pulse until smooth
  4. Add enough milk to mix until smooth and spreadable
  5. Add the vanilla
  6. Take out about a quarter of the icing to a separate bowl
  7. Melt the unsweetened chocolate at 50% power in a microwave for 1-2 minutes
  8. Mix the chocolate into the quarter of the icing.
  9. Place one cake layer on the cake pan or on a cake spinner platform.
  10. Ice the top of that layer with the chocolate icing.
  11. If the top layer is flared out, trim it with a knife do the sides are straight, and set it on top of the chocolate icing.
  12. Mix about 2 Tb of icing with about ¼ cup milk until uniform. This is the icing wash for the skim coat.

skim coat

  1. Spread the skim coat on the top and sides of the cake and chill it in the refrigerator for half an hour. This will make a smooth surface to ice that won’t crumble when you spread the white icing.
  2. After the cake is chilled, spread the white icing on the top and sides of the cake, using a spatula to make the sides smooth.
  3. Return the cake to the refrigerator while you make the ganache.

 

Chocolate ganache

  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (or use a little less baking chocolate and some semisweet)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ Tb honey
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Put all the chocolate in a heatproof bowl
  2. Combine the cream, honey and salt in a saucepan.
  3. Bring the cream to a boil, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Place the ganache in the refrigerator until it begins to firm up. If it gets too firm, you can remelt it in the microwave and start the chill again.
  5. When the ganache is still just pourable, dribble or pour it over the chilled cake to make any pattern you like.
  6. Serve with raspberries or strawberries.

ganache

 

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German chocolate cake you’ll love

German chocolate cake you’ll love

This fairly easy recipe is a simplification of the one on the Bakers German Chocolate bar. We show you a few shortcuts. Some people make this light cake and just decorate it with the coconut-pecan topping. We do that but ice the sides with chocolate buttercream icing to hold it all together.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 oz German Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 280 g cake flour (2 ½ cups sifted)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 lined 8” cake pans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F
  2. Beat the egg whites in your mixer until stiff. Remove to another bowl until needed.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer

4. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Put the chocolate in a bowl with the water and heat in a microwave for about 90 seconds until melted. Stir until uniform.

6. Add the vanilla to the sugar-butter mixture and beat in the chocolate.

7. You don’t really need to sift and measure the flour, as we described in this article. One cup of sifted cake flour weights 112g, so just weigh 280 grams (which is 2 1/2  cups sifted) into a bowl and add the soda and salt. Stir briefly to mix.

8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

9. Fold in the egg whites by mixing in ¼ of them and then folding the rest in using a rubber spatula, dipping a turning the blade to mix in the whites without deflating them.

10. Line the 3 cake pans with parchment using the technique we described here. Butter the pans and the parchment.

11. You now need to separate the batter into 3 equal parts. We do this by weight. The stand mixer bowl and contents weighed 3606g, and we know the empty bowl weights 1014g, so the contents weighed 1578g. Thus, we need to put 526g of batter in each of the 3 cake pans. We put each cake pan on the scale, press the tare button to zero it, and add 526g of batter. The third pan is always a little short because some batter sticks to the sides and to the spatula. So we steal a little from each of the other two pans to make them about even. It is still easier than eyeballing it!

12. Bake the cake in the pans for 30-35 minutes, until the cake starts to pull away from the edge, and a toothpick comes out clean.

3 baked

13. Let the cakes cool on a cooling rack, and then take the cakes out of the pans and let them cool completely.

Cake Filling

  • 8 oz evaporated milk (This is 1 1/3 6 oz cans)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 beaten egg yolks
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick) cut up
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Combine the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Stir constantly to avoid burning.
  2. Allow the liquid to come to a slow boil but keep stirring to avoid sticking.
  3. Remove from heat and add the coconut and pecans.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until cool enough to spread.

Buttercream frosting

  • 2 lb confectioners sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter, cut up
  • ¼ cup milk (approximately)
  • 3 oz baking chocolate
  1. Combine the sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixed.
  2. Add the milk until spreadable
  3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes at 50% power. Stir until uniform and then add to the buttercream mixture and pulse until uniform. This will make more frosting than you need, but you will use about ¾ of it.

Assembling the cake

It is easiest to ice the cake on a little rotating cake platform, but if you do, be sure to start with a cake cardboard under cake, as the layers are delicate and won’t pick up easily to move to a cake cover later.

  1. Place one solid layer on the bottom and carefully ice it with the filling. If the filling is too cold to spread, warm it for 15 sec on the microwave.
  2. Place a second layer on top and ice it either with the chocolate buttercream frosting or with the filling. You will have plenty of both. Place the third layer on top and ice the top with the filling.
  3. If any of the sides protrude, trim them off so the sides are relatively uniform. Ice the sides with the chocolate buttercream, using a spatula dipped in milk to smooth the outside of the cake. Let it dry for half an hour before serving.

sliced

 

 

A quick way to line cake pans

A quick way to line cake pans

Most cake recipes suggest you line the bottom of your cake pans with waxed paper (old school) or baking parchment (new school). Well tracing and cutting out those circles for 2 or 3 cake pans is a lot of trouble. Here’s an easier way.

pan and parchment

Cut a square of baking parchment, a bit bigger than you cake pan. For 8” cakes, cut a 9” or 10”  square. It doesn’t have to be very accurate or even square: a rectangle will do just fine. We’ll cut off the excess as we go along.

Fold the square diagonally so that the left edge meets the top edge.  This establishes that square. Any left on the bottom will be cut off.

Fold that triangle in half down the middle.

Then, keep folding down the middle until you have a little pointed triangle.

Lay that triangle on the bottom of the cake pan with the point at the center, and cut off the triangle at the edge of the pan.

Then, unfold it. It should be a circle that will just fit in your cake pan. If it is a little big, just refold it and cut off a little more.

lined pan

Then, butter the pan, lay the liner inside, and butter it, too.  That’s really easy. I did all 3 cake pans in about a minute! See the top picture for all three!