Saturday, May 30, 2009

"The" Chocolate Cake

This Recipe is Copyright Evie Lieb


3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 ¼ C sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ C (8 TBSP or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb light brown sugar
3 extra-large eggs, warmed, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 C sour cream, at room temperature
1 C very hot or boiling water

1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over very hot but not boiling water, or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave. Cool.
2. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans or line the bottoms with parchment. Adjust oven shelf to middle position and preheat to 350° (or 325° convection).
3. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt onto waxed paper or a big coffee filter.
4. Beat the butter until creamy in the bowl of electric mixer (fitted with paddle if that is an option). Add the brown sugar and beat at medium speed to combine. With mixer running, add the eggs gradually at medium speed, then increase speed to high and beat until very light, 3 to 4 minutes. At medium speed beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate, stopping once to scrape bowl with a rubber spatula to be sure ingredients are thoroughly and evenly combined.
5. At low speed add the sifted dry ingredients in three batches, alternately with 2 additions of the sour cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. When all has been incorporated, gradually raise the speed to medium high and beat for 5 seconds.
6. Return speed to low and add the water slowly and steadily to avoid splashing. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes (about 25 for convection), or until centers spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip.
7. Cool layers in pans on rack for about 10 minutes. Run the tip of a small knife around circumference of pans and turn cakes out onto wire rack to finish cooling. It is a good idea to cool the layers right side up on their parchment liners, as the cake is quite soft and may stick if the top surface is left in contact with the rack.
8. Place one cooled layer upside down on a 9" cardboard round, leaving the parchment in place. Cover with a piece of foil, plastic wrap or parchment a little wider than the diameter of the cake. Place the remaining layer right side up on top. Place in airtight box or sealed plastic bag and freeze or chill (to facilitate frosting).

NOTE: You can make this cake in 3- 8" round layers (shorter time in oven) or in a single 9"x 13" pan (bake about 40 minutes). You will need more frosting for the finished 3-layer cake. If you have an extra-capacity electric mixer such as a Kenwood Major, a double recipe makes a great half-sheet cake for celebrations.

I developed the method for mixing the frosting in the food processor to facilitate its production in the bakery. This recipe yields enough frosting for a 9" 2-layer cake. Make additional frosting for a 3-layer cake, or if you want to pipe a decorative border around the top. I always make a double batch since leftover frosting keeps so well in the freezer. It's great for a quick hot chocolate sauce—just zap it in the microwave to melt it, stir and pour it on your choice of dessert. Also good for cupcakes, sandwich cookies, etc.

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 lb confectioners' sugar
Pinch salt
½ C (8 TBSP or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ C whole milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In bowl of processor fitted with the metal cutting blade process the sugar with the salt to remove any lumps. Pulse in the butter until it is roughly incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla and process until mixture is smooth. Add the melted chocolate and process again, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.
Use at once, refrigerate (up to 3 days) or freeze (up to 3 months) for future use. Bring to room temperature and beat vigorously to restore creamy texture before using after storage.