Friday, July 8, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Cake - Finally

In my 2nd attempt to bake the perfect chocolate cake, I decided to move away from typical “moist choc cake” recipe in which everything is mixed together into one bowl before baking. After much research (lots of it) and recommendation from fellow bakers, I decided to try Rose Levy Beranbaum (The Cake Bible)’s Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake. A wise decision, if you continue reading.

I am making this for Father’s Day celebration with my relatives, and since this is my first attempt on this recipe, I kept my fingers crossed that it will turn out good, or at least edible. No trial run for this recipe.

In studying the recipe closely and comparing it with the recipe from my 1st attempt (Hershey’s Black Magic Cake, sorry kiddo), the RLB recipe uses butter as fat, and not oil, in which the former produces a more dense cake with buttery texture. Yum Yum!

Also, unlike the traditional method of creaming butter & sugar, RLB method is slightly different, more of a cake box mix method - where dry ingredients are mixed first, followed by butter, and lastly addition of eggs to build the cake structure. Am quite nervous actually as I am more comfortable with the creaming method – somehow seeing the mixture of butter & sugar fluff up gives me some confidence that everything is gonna turn out fine. Nevertheless, recipes from The Cake Bible are always worth a try.

I decided to do a chocolate ganache for frosting and also filling, with sliced banana between the layers (Rose’s recipe suggested neoclassic buttercream).

Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake
(from: Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Cake Bible)

Note: I halved the proportions of everything**, and baked in (2) 6’’ pan.
Also converted everything to weight, as to me, it is the most accurate method of measuring.
**I later discovered that pan substitution is not as simple - you can’t just half all the ingredients and bake in smaller pans. Adjustment has to be made for amount of baking powder. See my other post on baking powder proportions for different cake size.

2.25 oz or 1/2 c + 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder (lightly spooned into cup) 63g (I use Van Houten dutch-processed cocoa powder)
8.25 oz or 1 liquid c boiling water 236g
5.25 oz or 3 large eggs (weighed without shells) 150g (yes, i do weigh my eggs for accuracy!)
2 1/4 t vanilla 9g
8.25 oz or 2 1/4 c +2 T sifted cake flour 237g
10.5 oz or 1 1/2 c sugar 300g (I reduced to 280g)
1 T baking powder 15g
3/4 t salt 5g
8 oz or 1 c unsalted butter 227g (I use SCS butter)

All ingredients should be at room temperature, except boiling water.

Prepare cake pans: (2) 8″ or 9″ cake pans – grease the pan, line bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper. Flour pans.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa and boiling water until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.
  3. In another bowl, lightly combine eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture.  Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Increase to medium speed (high-speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.  Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula.  The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 -35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.  The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and then cool them completely before wrapping them airtight.  Finished cakes will be about 1 1/2″ tall.
  10. Store airtight:  2 days room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen.  Texture is most perfectly moist the same day as baking.

(Frosting and Filling)
Perfectly Rich Chocolate Ganache (recipe here)
Sliced Ripe Banana for filling
Toasted Walnuts for topping

  • Flouring pan for chocolate cake – use 1/3 flour and 2/3 cocoa powder. Mix & sift together. Then, sprinkle 2 tablespoon on pan using a strainer. Turn the pan upside down to tap out excess.
  • For step (2) in the recipe, after whisking cocoa powder and boiling water, cover the mixture to prevent evaporation of moisture, otherwise you will get a dry cake.
  • I add the eggs by big tablespoon at a time, rather than one egg at a time. Just an extra careful step to prevent curdling.
  • Do read your recipe carefully, “Sifted cake flour” means Sift, then measure. “Cake flour, sifted” means Measure, then sift. “Sifted cake flour” yields less flour.
  • Ensure you select the correct type of cocoa powder for your choc cake. Some recipes require dutch-processed, whereas some others use natural unsweetened. Read here.
  • I use home-made cake strips to ensure even heat distribution and to prevent doming in center.
  • Before placing pan in oven, gently tap pan on countertop to remove air bubbles. Then, gently swirl the pan so that the batter rise slightly at the side, and not the center.
  • Make sure you use good quality dark choc for the ganache – it makes all the difference.

Future Improvements:
  • My cake turn out rather short, less than 1”. After much post-research, I discovered that I need to use more baking powder for smaller pans. Find out why here.
  • More bananas! Will use 2 layers of banana the next round to make it taller. Also, i left some gaps between bananas. Next round, will ensure the bananas fill the layer completely.

Other than that, I think it is quite a success. I do like it! Everyone loves it (including my dad)! The rich chocolate cake combined with heavenly ganache gives a melt-in-mouth feel. The best part - it is not too overly sweet. Banana filling also goes very well with the cake. This recipe is a keeper and I will definitely make it again. It’s a great Father’s Day after all! Happy celebrating everyone!

© copyright fiddling with recipe 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment

It is all about sharing and good conversation here. we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Be sure to check back back, we do make every efforts to reply to your comments here.