Friday, February 10, 2012

Double Chocolate Cake

It’s always the season for chocolate. And the more chocolate cake you try, the more you come to realize there are a number of routes to travel when searching for the ultimate bite. I’m always looking for the deep flavor of cocoa not masked by too much sugar; the perfect texture that is neither too soft nor too toothy; a soothing balance of crumb and moisture in each bite; a wondrous hit of chocolate without being too rich or overwhelming. These are the elements that - depending on the quality of ingredients, technique, method, baking time and temp - conspire in different ways to fulfill that dream chocolate cake experience. Sometimes you want the lightness of a genoise and sometimes you want the perfect balance of Devil’s Food. Or sometimes you want the deep charge of a flourless concoction or the density of a pound cake. And then there’s everything in between.

Which brings me to today’s chocolate cake. This is the famous recipe from Epicurious, Double Chocolate Layer Cake. I’m tempted to call it Chocolate Heartthrob Cake because it’s so superhumanly popular with mostly positive reviews from over 1,400 readers. Since I’d never tried it, I thought I would see what everyone is talking about.

Well, to begin, this is a massively huge 10” cake that would serve 14 - 16, so I scaled back the ingredients to bake a single 8” layer. The cake is very easy to make. It has a little semisweet chocolate bolstered by natural cocoa for a fairly intense chocolate bite. It’s made with oil rather than butter, so you can expect it to be moist with an open crumb. And the very odd part is that it’s baked at 300 degrees for a longer period of time, but it works.

This is a very rich, very moist cake. It wasn’t quite there for me on the perfect texture side of the equation. I thought it was almost ever so slightly too moist, if that’s even possible to understand. But the flavor is very good and everyone who tasted it loved it, so it’s definitely easy to see why it’s gotten so much adoration. It will be another very good chocolate cake in my arsenal of good chocolate cakes.

So off we go. Let’s bake some cake.

Bench notes:
- Do take note: the oven temperature is not a typo. The cake bakes at 300 degrees fahrenheit.

- I first whisked the one egg in the bowl by hand to aerate it and give it some volume so it would be viable on a stand mixer.
- The original recipe calls for a rich chocolate ganache to finish the cake but I used a looser chocolate glaze for a lighter, creamier result. You can use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, depending on your own desired level of flavor and sweetness. Or you can use half bittersweet and half semisweet.
- For the chocolate glaze, finely chopping the chocolate into small bits ensures it will melt more evenly and efficiently. When the hot cream is added, let it sit for about 2 – 3 minutes so the chocolate can absorb the heat. Then stir gently and slowly, starting in the middle and working outward in concentric circles, to prevent it from cooling down too fast and creating air bubbles. The glaze can be reheated over a low simmering bain marie. When it's ready, flood the center of the cake quickly and then move to the edges.
- The use of corn syrup adds to the viscosity and shine of the glaze. I rarely use corn syrup but in this preparation it is a fairly small amount. You can certainly leave it out if you wish.
- You can also bake this in a 9” pan for about 38 - 40 minutes. Or make cupcakes and bake for 22 – 25 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake

scaled down and adapted from Epicurious

1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 C hot brewed coffee
3/4 C + 2 T all purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
generous 1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
generous 1/4 t salt
1 C sugar
1 large egg
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 t vanilla extract [I used 1 t]

Chocolate Glaze

5 oz bittersweet chocolate (or 2 1/2 oz each of bittersweet and semisweet)
3/4 C heavy cream
1 T corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line with a circle of parchment.

Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place in a bowl. Pour the hot coffee over it and let it stand for a minute or so. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar together.

Beat the egg at medium speed until it is pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the oil, then the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Mix in the melted chocolate and coffee mixture. Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir to make sure all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto an 8” cardboard round or removable tart pan bottom. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and cool completely. Place the cooled cake along with the cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a medium bowl.

Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Keep your eye on it because it will spill over if left unattended. Just as it begins to boil, take off heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Then stir slowly and gently, starting in the middle until thoroughly combined and then working outward in concentric circles until the mixture comes together.

To glaze the cake, pour the glaze quickly in the center of the cake and then around the edges. Let it run for a few seconds and then gently jiggle and tap the baking sheet on the work surface to encourage the glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Just as it begins to dry, run a small flat spatula around the underside of the cardboard round to smooth the bottom edge and prevent “feet” from forming. Let glaze firm up before serving.


connie said...

Great idea to scale it down, it made for a decadent single layer cake. I've tried the original recipe, and it's delicious (and massive in size). I've had even better results substituting the oil for softened butter using creaming method instead of sifting the sugar with flour.

pastry studio said...

Thanks for your feedback, Connie. I've wondered about the texture and flavor using butter and using half brown sugar. I'll have to try it.

FilosofĂ­a de Sabor said...

Wow! Beautiful photos!

The Devil's Food Advocate said...

Now that we are "empty-nesters" these scaled-down recipes are so valuable. Thank you again for a lovely post.

Anonymous said...

I love anything chocolate! The glaze/ganache looks scrumptious.

Audrey said...

Thank you for scaling this down! I also appreciate your notes on the chocolate dough (below) - they're on my list too.

Elly McCausland said...

I love that last photo, how smooth and shiny the chocolate glaze looks - almost like a mirror! This sounds a really interesting cake, especially with the inclusion of coffee, buttermilk and oil instead of butter.

Gina said...

This looks amazing - I'm off to give it a try right now!

pastry studio said...

Howdy, chocolate fans! And here we have Gina, a woman of action! Hope you enjoy every morsel.

thelittleloaf said...

This sounds like exactly my kind of chocolate cake - lots of lovely cocoa flavour and not too sickly sweet. I often scale down cakes too - with just my boyfriend and I it's hard to get through a whole one if we don't have guests! Love the chocolate glaze too - it's so beautifully slick and shiny.

The Food Hunter said...

looks yummy...moist is good in my book

Jan Juicer said...

Chocolate season beging on January 1 and ends on December 31. This is beautiful.

pastry studio said...

Jan Juicer, yes, I think you have that pegged perfectly.

brighteyedbaker said...

When I saw the first picture of this cake, I literally said "Oh man". It looks amazing, especially with that chocolate glaze on top!

HanneChan said...

oh god! Amazing!

Anonymous said...

ah what a shiny chocolate glaze. Gorgeous

Tracy @ Daily Deal Blog said...

Exactly my idea of heavenly food. Love it!

Anonymous said...

This cake looks like it was sent from the heavens above! WOW! Just absolutely beautiful. I would just love to have a plate of this deliciousness. Thanks for the eye candy post!

ISO Certification said...

I love your blog. It's simple and elegant. Just plain and simple but says a lot. Great cake recipe! I love chocolates and I'm really ecstatic everytime I see one.

pastry studio said...

Thanks very much and welcome! This cake is a very simple one to bake and the payoff is BIG!

Anonymous said...

300 degrees per celsius or fahrenheit?

pastry studio said...

Fahrenheit! Thanks for the question and I'll amend the text.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a huge fan of your blog. I just finished making this and I was wondering if you might have some advice. My glaze wasn't thick and shiny like yours but rather very thin. I used heavy whipping cream and light corn syrup in the suggested amounts. Would the kind of chocolate have an effect? If so, could you share what kind you used? Thanks!

pastry studio said...

Hi, Anonymous! Thanks for your question.

The glaze is pretty thin so it pours evenly and quickly. It thickens up a bit as it sits. It sounds like you used all the right ingredients. Can you give me any additional detail about what you mean? Did it not adhere to the cake? Did the glaze not have any shine at all?

I used Karo brand corn syrup and a 70% bittersweet Callebaut chocolate.

The best method for making glaze is to make sure to chop the chocolate as finely as you can so it all melts evenly. Heat the cream and corn syrup to just boiling and then pour it over the chocolate and let the heat penetrate for a minute or so. Then whisk gently in circles - not too fast or you'll cool down the mixture before the chocolate and cream have a chance to fully blend and smooth out. Then just a quick pour onto the cake, focussing on the center so it spreads evenly out toward the edges. Gently rap the sheet pan holding the wire rack against the work surface to encourage the glaze to run evenly down the sides, if necessary.

Does that help? Please let me know if you have any further questions!

Ana said...

Thank you for this wonderful recipe, I tried it several times and it tastes marvelous! What I like about it is its consistence; it is soft and moist, while previous recipes that I tried were more dry. However, the only thing that does not turn to be the way I expected is the surface of the cake. It turns out to be very porous, even though I usually let the batter sit before baking, so it would lose all the extra air. Nevertheless the surface turns out porous and the glaze disappears into it... I can't make it stick to the cake; the cake just absorbs the ganache and it ends up looking as if there was no glaze at all!
Any advice on how to make the surface more "tight"? I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I seem to follow the recipe quite closely. Thanks!

pastry studio said...

Ana, thanks so much for your question. I'm afraid I'm a little stumped. I've never seen anything like this. The only thing I'm wondering about is if you're sure you're using the right amount of leavening - generous 1/2 t baking soda and 1/4 t baking powder (and by "generous" I mean just a bit heaping). And when you say you let the batter sit, how long? Once mixed, cake batter needs to go directly in the oven to make sure the leavening doesn't dissipate. I recommend you just tap the bottom of the pan on your counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles.

Do you bake with a standard oven or convection?

What does the bottom of the cake look like? Can you simply invert it and try glazing it that way?

I wish I could be of more help.

terya said...

Hi, love your blog! I tried this recipe but the glaze is so thin it's not covering the surface of the cake. Could reducing the amount of the cream help? Also, I'm having the crackling on the top of the cake. But it does taste good! Thanks!

pastry studio said...

Thank you very much, terya!

Sorry to hear about your cake cracking troubles. Did you bake the cake in an 8" cake pan in the center of the oven? One of the symptoms of cracked cakes is an oven temperature that is too high, causing the cake to rise too fast. This cake bakes at a very low temperature. So you may want to be sure your oven is calibrated and if you don't have an oven thermometer, you may want to get one to be able to read the temperature accurately.

The glaze probably didn't cover the surface of your cake because the cracks soaked it up. But if you want a thicker finishing, you can make a portion of the ganache that goes with this recipe at the Epicurious site. Since this is a third of the cake, here is an approximation of a third of their ganache frosting:

5 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. Bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides.

I hope this helps you in your enjoyment of this cake!

Sid Twix said...

Can we turn this into cupcakes??and if yes how much time should i give them to bake???

pastry studio said...

Sid Twix, these make great cupcakes. Bake them for about 22- 25 minutes.