Monday, March 2, 2009

Chocolate Blackout Cake Part I

I've been working on blackout cake for 2 weeks now. Not the Brooklyn type with chocolate custard (not my favorite), but a devil's food-type cake with a very rich and creamy chocolate frosting. My first cake came out a little bit dry and way too crumbly. I thought that if I added two tablespoons of oil, it would be just about right and it did come out great – a little fudgy, moist and not crumbly. The only drawback with the recipe is that the batter is so thick that it's hard to spread evenly, and it does form a sort of crunchy crust. I thought it might be nice to make it a bit easier to spread in the pan. I did this by adding and extra 2 tablespoons of milk. It's amazing how much this changed the cake. It was easier to spread and it rose higher, making it a bit less fudgy. Both versions are great and you can choose whichever suits your taste. The frosting is still a work in progress…

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons oil

1-3/4 cups + 2 TB (244 grams) all-purpose flour, measured by fluffing, scooping and levelling*
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup milk (skim or regular), room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and then spray-grease and flour the pans.

Place the chopped chocolate and the oil in a microwave-safe container. Micro-cook on medium (#5) for 1 minute. Stir and then reheat in 15-second increments on medium power until the chocolate is melted.

In a small bowl, stir-sift* or sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set it aside.

In a mixer bowl, combine the butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is uniformly smooth and creamy, and well aerated. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs, beating for 1 minute after the addition of each egg, and scraping down the bowl a few times. On low, beat in the sour cream and chocolate.

On low, in 4 additions, beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Divide the batter between the pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Set the cakes on a wire rack. Immediately, run a knife around the edges of the cakes, using an up-and-down, rather than a sawing motion. Cool completely. Invert the cooled pans onto a board, and rap the pans sharply to get the cakes out of the pans. Remove the parchment, and re-invert the cakes so that they are right-side-up. Trim the cakes to get them level or to reduce them to the thickness you desire. You can use a cake leveler (I like Wilton's), or a long serrated knife.

(obviously the levelling photos are not from the chocolate cake!)
Save the pieces you cut off of the cakes to be used as crumbs for the sides of the cake.

For a batter that is easier to spread evenly, that rises higher and is less fudgy, add another 2-3 tablespoons of milk to the batter.

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