Monday, December 21, 2009

Chocolate Pan Cake with Fudge Frosting

Chocolate Pan Cake with Fudge Frosting - December 21, 2009

If you ever need a quick and easy chocolate cake with frosting and you don't want to mess with making separate layers, waiting for the cake to cool and frosting it, use this recipe. You bake it in one pan, you make the frosting while it's baking and you spread the frosting right over the cake when it comes out of the oven. The frosting partially melts on top of the cake and it's just all chocolatey, fudgy goodness. Not to mention, this cake is light, has a tender crumb and is moist. The recipe is from A Country Baking Treasury by Lisa Yockelson and as I've mentioned before, was the best $5 I ever spent on a bargain book at a bookstore. This recipe alone is worth more than the $5, not to mention all the other great recipes I've gotten from it.

The batter for this cake is pretty liquidy and contributes to how light it bakes up and its moistness. It calls for a high baking temperature and a relatively short baking time so don't take your eye off the clock for this one. The main drawback to it though is because the cake batter is so liquidy, it's prone to lumps of flour. Cake flour is notorious for lumping. You can sift it beforehand but when I make this recipe, I make it because it's easy and I'm pressed for time. When I'm pressed for time, I don't sift. Which is sloppy baking work on my part but the taste of this cake makes up for any minor lumps here or there :). Oh and I never add pecans to this - it doesn't need it. Try making it with a little less powdered sugar than a whole 1-lb box. The full pound makes it a bit stiffer in consistency. You don't want the frosting too soft though as remember that you're going to spread it over a hot cake and it'll melt. Sometimes the butter in the frosting gets too hot when you pour it over the cake so it separates a bit. Don't worry about it - once you have the frosting spread out the way you want it, just blot it gently with a paper towel to take a little of the shine off. It'll still taste good.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into rough chunks
4 tablespoons unsifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsifted cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk, blended with 1 teaspoon baking soda, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon light cream, at room temperature
1 box (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Lightly butter and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch cake pan; set aside. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
2. For the cake, place the butter, cocoa, and water in a large saucepan, set over moderately high heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Sift together the sugar, flour and salt into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot butter-cocoa-water mixture over the sifted dry mixture and beat on moderate speed until thoroughly blended. Add the whisked egg mixture and continue beating on low speed until the batter is a uniform color, about 1 ½ minutes. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake the cake on the lower-third-level rack of the preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and dry and the cake shrinks slightly away from the edges of the pan.
4. About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the fudge frosting. Place the butter, chocolate, milk and cream in a large saucepan, set over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted down completely. Remove from the heat and beat in the sugar by cupfuls with the vanilla and salt. Blend in the pecans.
5. As soon as the cake is done, remove it from the oven to a wire cooling rack. Immediately spread the frosting evenly over the top with a flexible palette knife. Let the cake cool in the pan.
6. For serving, cut the cake in squares directly from the cake pan.

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