Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

October 21, 2007 | Chuck
Chocolate Cake

Hungry Bear and I love good old-fashioned chocolate cake. Nothing beats a moist, tender and airy piece of chocolate cake for dessert. The hard part is finding a recipe that has the right cake texture, chocolate flavor and sweetness level.

Last week, we were watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa in which Ina Garten made a great looking chocolate cake. It looked so good, I had to give it a try. Hungry Bear's birthday was in a few days, so I decided to make it for her birthday.

The chocolate cake recipe produced a super moist cake due to all the liquids in the batter 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup hot coffee. With all the liquids, the batter was the runniest cake batter I've ever made. The frosting was a simple chocolate buttercream. Since we like intense chocolate flavors, I substituted bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet called for in the recipe and added an extra ounce of chocolate. And of course, I used Scharffen Berger chocolate and cocoa powder.

On Hungry Bear's birthday, we had dinner with a few friends at Poleng Lounge and had the chocolate cake afterwards. Dinner was very tasty at Poleng. Our favorite dish was the Filipino sisig, which is made with parts of boiled pig's head and then fried with onions and chili peppers. It's served on a sizzling plate with an egg on top. The texture of the meat reminds me of Mexican carnitas. The sisig is not on the menu, so you'll have to ask your waiter for it.

Back to the highlight of the evening, the chocolate cake. The cake was fantastic. Before making the cake, I was worried that it would be a little greasy with the use of vegetable oil. But the end result was a perfect cake texture moist, surprisingly airy and not oily. The buttercream frosting was light, creamy and had a good chocolate taste.

Overall, the cake was pretty damn good and I would definitely use the recipe again. My only minor complaint is the use of coffee. I like how it makes the cake a darker brown color, but I believe the coffee overpowers the cocoa powder in the cake. I would like a little more chocolate flavor. Hungry Bear loved the cake, but she prefers a fudgy frosting to buttercream.

With this in mind, I'm going to try out this Cook's Illustrated old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe in the near future to compare and contrast with Ina's recipe. I can't wait for some more chocolate cake!

Frosting Chocolate Cake - Top Layer Should Be Flipped

Beatty's Chocolate Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Cake Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

2) Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

3) Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Buttercream Frosting Directions:
1) Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Makes 8 servings

[Recipe via Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten]

[tags]chocolate cake, chocolate, scharffen berger, birthday, buttercream, frosting, poleng lounge[/tags]

11 Comments on “Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake”

  1. hungry bear said:

    i disagree about the coffee. i think it enhances the deep, rich chocolate flavor. but i’m happy to help you taste test other recipes!

  2. Chuck said:

    That’s very gracious of you Hungry Bear… maybe you should make the next chocolate cake!

  3. East Coast Lover of SND said:

    mmmmmmm, cake! I wander if you could ship me a piece of the Cook’s Illustrated old-fashioned chocolate cake when you make it? I am not sure it would survive the overnight trip through Memphis, but it sure would be fun to try!

  4. Sarah said:

    Hi – reading your site for the first time and loving every word! Re: chocolate cake, I agree about the coffee… I think it overwhelms the chocolate – and when you use high quality chocolate, you really want to taste it! I recently used this recipe to make a b-day cake for my husband (in the form of a giant cupcake) – it was delish: http://cupcakeblog.com/index.p.....-frosting/

    Like you, I omitted the espresso powder. I also used SB cocoa as well as Hershey’s dark (1/2 and 1/2). Instead of the buttercream, I used a cream cheese frosting (personal preference) recipe from Sprinkles (mix sold at W-S). The coconut-choc combo is delish. Thanks for your post, I will try your choc cake next!

    ps – if interested in the giant cupcake pan they sell them at Sur La Table in the Ferry Building – we are obsessed with cupcakes lately so it was a fitting and funny b-day cake: http://www.surlatable.com/product/547901.do

  5. Chuck said:

    Sara, the giant cupcake pan looks awesome! Did you double the recipe or is a single recipe portion enough to fill the giant pan?

  6. patty said:

    Sisig? Wow! Could Honey Bear be Filipino? Because I definitely am. I love sisig! It’s good to hear about our native dishes here. Great post. The cake is making me hungry!

  7. jeanne said:

    I would like the receipt for the chocolate blackout cake featured on the sunday television program.

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