I often find it hard to believe when a recipe claims that it’s “the best”, especially when it comes to chocolate cakes. I have tried and tested at least a hundred different chocolate cake recipes and none ever delivers the ultra thick but still moist on it’s own with a soft crumb, without the help of any soaks. It was till a point I thought maybe I was just baking it all wrong and I just can’t execute American styled desserts. And then today happened…
I was determined to bake an old-fashioned, heavy, thick double-stacked chocolate cake. Not because I love chocolate cakes but I just had to test and challenge myself and make sure I wasn’t incapable of it. Anyone who knows me know I hardly bake such cakes. It’s already hard seeing me make a whole gateau or entremet that doesn’t involve an insert, a cremeux or a mousse. That being said, I was extremely pleased with the outcome. Thick it was, moist it was, soft it was. It was absolutely to die for! Of course I couldn’t even finish a slice but that’s fine because that’ll just make my neighbours’ bellies sing.
It was hard executing this to be honest. Not because of the techniques but because, I really suck at making rustic cakes. It has its own beautiful imperfect and raw charm but my hands were just itching to smooth it out and pipe something on it, to make it more refined. I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn’t French pâtisserie, “so just plonk on some ganache here and there and you’re done! No more touch ups!”
Just a quick question. Is there anyone out there who is as messy as I am whenever it comes to dealing with chocolate?? Whether it’s a cake or just tempering chocolate, I’m always brown head to toe. I even bought a brown apron just for chocolate work. Not good, big no-no in the labo.
That being said nothing's gonna come between me and chocolate ♥
Reading the recipe, I found it so incredibly easy to put the sponge together that I opted to do it without the use of a mixer. Of course you could and your life would be a hell lot easier. But when it’s that simple, the kind you combine the wet ingredients together and the dry together and mix them all up, I prefer to just go by hand because I figured that when it’s such easy mixing, the downfall of it would be overmixing it that would make the cake go dry and hard. When you do it by hand you feel the batter and everything is aways mixed till “just right”. Besides, it really wasn’t hard doing it by hand at all. Plus you safe on washing. + bonus!
If you have two 8-inch springform pans this will be a cinch. Just make one massive recipe and pop both pans into the oven. I only had one so I painstakingly made one after another. Waaay more time-consuming.
And because I had to wait for the cake to cool down before I could get the cake pan for my second cake, I found myself cooking a piece of salmon while waiting. And then my kitchen smelt like salmon and chocolate. It smelt weird. So guys, never cook salmon and bake a chocolate cake at the same time.
Layering it, crumb coating it, frosting it.
I couldn’t find my turntable. It was excruciating frosting this evenly without one! I was turning the serving plate and mind you this is one heavy cake.
This ganache is beautiful in the sense that it has a lovely shine and brilliance when you leave it to stand. The bothersome thing about it is that it’s very temperamental especially since it’s getting cold out. It splits very easily that I had to keep heating and controlling the temperature of it and then emulsifying it all over again bah. But all worth it in the end. :)
I was nervous cutting it.
ooOooOOoo. Just look at that exceptional moist and soft crumb, holy smokes!
You are a mighty one. "Move over, P.S Café."
Have it for tea, dinner, lunch, breakfast, I don’t really care! It deserves to be consumed at any time of day.
Even Mr. Frenchie likes it.
I can finally say I found and made the most superb chocolate cake. This one’s a keeper, I promise.
All-american double-stacked Chocolate Cake:
(adapted from Ina Garten & Epicurious)
For the cake: (makes one 8-inch pan)
flour – 145g
brown sugar tightly packed – 245g
cocoa powder – 40g
baking soda – 1 teaspoon
baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
salt – 1/2 teaspoon
buttermilk (I mixed sour cream and milk) – 135g
vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
eggs (extra-large) – 1 no.
hazelnut oil – 1/4 cup
hot freshly brewed coffee – 1/2 cup
For the ganache frosting:
64% chocolate (chopped) – 400g
70% chocolate (chopped) – 281g
cream – 340g
corn syrup – 48g
butter (cubed) – 85g
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Oil and flour the 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a circular parchment paper cut-out.
In a clean bowl, sift and combine all the dry ingredients together.
In a separate bowl, mix the oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla together.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry folding it gently until well incorporated. The batter should be pretty thick and sticky.
Drizzle in the hot espresso and fold in until just combined. If there are any flour lumps at the bottom of the bowl, use a whisk and whisk quickly (but not too much!) to break it up.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a knife comes out just clean. It should still be slightly damp. Do not overcook it or it will lose its moisture.
Leave to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then unmould it. Leave it to cool down in the freezer till completely cold.
Repeat this process for the second cake.
For the ganache:
Chop the chocolate till very fine pieces as the ratio of cream to chocolate is much lesser. Place in a medium plastic bowl.
Heat the cream and corn syrup until it boils. Remove from heat and pour half the mixture into the chopped chocolate. Leave it to stand for 2 minutes and then using a spatula, stir until well emulsified. Add the remaining of the cream and leave to stand again and then stir until all the chocolate has melted completely.
Add in the butter and using an immersion blender, blend it in. At this point the ganache should be thick, emulsified and glossy. It is ready to be used.
If not using instantly, clingwrap and leave it in a slightly warm place to maintain it’s temperature.
Using a serrated knife, cut the tops off each of the cake evenly so that you are left with two thick but leveled cakes.
With one cake placed on a serving plate and on turntable, dollop on the ganache and spread an even layer of about 1-cm in thickness, turning the turn tables as you go along.
Place the second cake cut side down onto the ganache and align it properly. Using a flat spatula, begin crumb coating it until you have an even layer and the cake looks straight. Leave it in the freezer for the it firm up. At this stage you can check that your ganache is still smooth and not splitting. If it is splitting slightly, heat it up in the microwave and use a whisk and whisk vigorously till emulsified again.
Remove the cake from the freezer and begin blotting on and swirling ganache over the cake. Since it’s meant to be rustic it doesn’t have to be perfect. However if you do opt to have it slightly more refined, you can spread another clean smooth layer of ganache over the crumb coat and pipe some designs.
Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream.
It’s pretty much perfect and darn awesome on it’s own too. ;)