Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate Layer Cake

I've made this Chocolate Layer Cake for each of my girls' birthdays (who are now 12, 11, and 8), which over time has added up to more than 30 birthdays. And every time, this cake has been a hit.

Although it's meant to be a traditional three-layer cake, I've rarely made it that way. It's been Po, a number one, a clown, an elephant, a gingerbread man, humpty dumpty, a Barbie, a fairy toadstool, a carousel, a castle, a dinosaur, a butterfly, a guitar, an apron, Blue from Blue's Clues, Dora and even Barney (to name just a few)!

This recipe was published in Fine Cooking magazine in February/March 1998 and my copy is well-stained and loved.

Recipe for Chocolate Layer Cake

adapted from 

10½ ounces (3 cups) sifted cake flour
1½ teaspoons soda
½ teaspoons salt (leave out if using salted butter)
1 cup boiling water
2½ ounces (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsifted unsweetened natural (non-alkalized) cocoa
¾ cup cold water
½ cup cold plain yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 ounces (12 tablespoons or ¾ cup) unsalted butter at room temp.
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F. Take out butter and eggs to get to room temperature. Start boiling 1 cup water. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line the bottom of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment and lightly grease the sides.

Sift the flour, soda, and salt three times. (Although I don't always bother sifting, I did this last time I made it, and the cake seemed slightly lighter.)

In a mixing bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa and stir to blend. Refrigerate to cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally to speed cooling. Stir in the cold water, yogurt, and vanilla. If necessary, refrigerate again to cool to room temperature before continuing. (You don't want to melt the butter or curdle the eggs when you add this chocolate mixture later.)

Beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light in colour and texture (about 5-6 minutes). Whisk the eggs briefly and pour them slowly into the butter mixture. Mix for 2-3 minutes.

Spoon 1/3 of the flour mixture into the bowl. Beat on low speed until incorporated. Pour in half the cocoa mixture. Beat on low speed until blended. Spoon 1/3 of the flour in. Add remaining cocoa mixture. Add last of flour and beat. Divide among the cake pans.

Bake. Rotate the pans halfway through, until the cake just begins to shrink from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean (30-35 minutes). Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Invert. Peel off parchment. Cool completely.

Recipe for Mocha Milk Chocolate Frosting

24 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
4½ teaspoons instant espresso/coffee powder [optional]
scant ⅛ teaspoons salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla

Bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate mixture. Put the chocolate, butter, optionally the espresso powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the mixture is cold and feels quite firm when you touch it, at least 2 hours. Beat the frosting.

Tasting Notes
"This is the best chocolate cake ever…and I don't usually like chocolate cake." — Jaime (8 years old, a friend of my daughter's)

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    natalia said...

    Ciao ! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe !!

    Heather said...

    This looks like a lovely recipe. I am going to try it.

    Patricia Scarpin said...

    What an adorable cake! And so sinfully delicious. Yum!

    steph- whisk/spoon said...

    nothing beats a homemade chocolate cake! i'd certainly love this for my birthday!

    Anonymous said...

    I died and went to food porn chocolate heaven. The oversized photo of ganache and fluffy cake is enough to kill a girl. :)

    Unknown said...

    That frosting looks fantastic!

    Katrina said...

    This looks great! And I've been looking for a great chocolate cake recipe. Love all the different cakes you've made with it! ;)

    lisa is cooking said...

    It looks like a perfect chocolate cake! The cake itself looks moist and lovely, and the frosting with espresso sounds delicious.

    Lo said...

    Mmm. Chocolate layer cake. It's a classic, but it can be difficult to get it spot-on. Looks like you found a winner here, though!

    grace said...

    chocolate on chocolate--this simply couldn't NOT be a hit. also, hooray for double negatives. :)

    Anonymous said...

    I'll have to try this! I love the chocolate cake recipe from dorie's book for the white out cake and have used that for a few bdays, but with 30 birthdays behind this one I'll have to give this one a whirl too! Thanks for making me hungry for cake, even after all our Easter treats!

    Manggy said...

    Ooh, it even has yogurt in it! I can see this'll make a deep, tender cake :)

    Katie said...

    Looks so good - sometimes you can't beat a good chocolate cake.

    Michaela said...

    Wow! Your cake looks divine. Love the candy necklaces decorating the top too!

    kellypea said...

    My boys would be all over this cake. Chocolate is all they ever request. The only difference is that one might want cream between the layers. *sigh* Just heavenly.

    Kristina Emmons said...

    Oh, wow. Good thing there is no fat in it!

    NicoleD said...

    This cake looks SO good! Is it my eyes or is the measurement for the flour 1 1/2 oz.?

    Shari said...

    Thanks, Nicole. I've fixed that error. Should be 10 1/2 ounces or 3 cups. :)

    Chef Dennis Littley said...

    OMG....chocolate....what a great recipe, this cake looks like it would just melt in your mouth....

    Anonymous said...

    Can't go wrong with chocolate cake... :)

    Unknown said...

    Adoro i dolci al cioccolato, ne mangerei volentieri una fetta di questa magnifica torta.
    Proverò la tua ricetta è una vera tentazione :P

    The Chef In My Head said...

    How great to have a trusted recipe to go to along with making a great family tradition for your girls! ~LeslieMichele

    The Chef In My Head said...

    It's a toss up between Thyme and French Tarragon, I couldn't possible choose! ~LeslieMichele

    Two fit and fun gals said...

    mm this cake looks great i am going to bookmark it- thanks for sharing!

    Lori said...

    I have been seriously craving a good chocolate cake. This looks amazing! So glad to add this recipe to my line up. Yum!

    Valen said...

    That is some shiny frosting! I don't usually see that, but I like it!

    Monica H said...

    Happy belated birthday to your daughter!

    That's a lot of times to make this cake- it must be good!

    Unknown said...

    I love trying out family favorites!! It looks delicious :)

    Noelle said...

    I made this cake recipe as my mother's day gift today! lets just say i am now her favorite daughter :] because she loved it! thanks for sharing this recipe with all of us!