Monday, October 12, 2009

Easy Devil's Food Cake with Mocha Buttercream

Easy Devil's Food Cake with Mocha Buttercream - October 11 & 12, 2009

A good chocolate cake is hard to make. Mixing and baking chocolate cakes is easy enough but having them turn out well is another matter. I've tried dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of chocolate cake recipes and I'm not satisfied with most of them. Cakes dry out too easily if left in the oven for just one minute longer than necessary and they come out gummy if you take them out too soon. Even if you master the texture and come up with a tender, moist crumb, sometimes they're lacking in flavor or they're too chocolatey (yes, there is such a thing as too chocolatey).

Of course, that doesn't stop me from trying to find good chocolate cake recipes. This one is from the Family Baker by Susan G. Purdy. It was easy to make but would it pass the taste test? I baked the cake layers last night but since it was late and they wouldn't be cool enough to frost by the time I went to sleep, I covered them tightly with plastic wrap and let them sit for a day. I made the frosting tonight after work and assembled the cake tonight. The taste test? Hmm, unfortunately, to me, it was just okay. It was moist enough but I couldn't decide whether I liked the chocolate flavor or not. This was made with cocoa and I used my favorite brand - Pernigotti from Williams Sonoma which has a nice, deep chocolate flavor. I don't know whether it was just my natural prejudice of "day-old" cake not being fresh enough or whether I, for once, was not in a chocolate mood.

On the plus side, the frosting turned out pretty well and I'm not usually a frosting person. I'm especially not fond of buttercream as too often it's slick and "too creamy" meaning I don't like the slick, almost greasy texture. But this frosting had less slickness than traditional buttercreams and the mocha was a nice contrast to the chocolate and added good flavor. I don't drink coffee but I love coffee-flavored stuff, especially paired with chocolate. When I was a kid in the Philippines, my favorite ice cream was mocha made by Magnolia, a local company. When we came to the States, mocha ice cream was hard to find when I was younger. In my college days, I discovered premium ice cream ran to mocha but nothing was still as good as the mocha ice cream I had in the Philippines.

Lastly, I didn't do a very good job with the layers - take a closer look at the picture. The bottom layer is thinner than the top layer meaning I didn't divide the batter evenly enough between the 2 cake pans. Also, they're not lined up very well as the bottom layer juts out more than the top. In culinary school, we learned to hide the deficiencies in cake layers by filling in with frosting when needed but that all gets exposed as soon as you slice the cake.

Easy Devil's Food Cake with Mocha Buttercream

2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sifted regular, unsweetened cocoa
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Mocha Buttercream
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 6 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, as needed
1/3 cup sifted regular unsweetened cocoa
½ cup double-strength regular or espresso coffee or 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in ½ cup boiled water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Position racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350˚F. Coat the pans with shortening, then sift on a layer of cocoa; tap out excess.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.
3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended, then beat in the vanilla and eggs. Add all the dry ingredients and the buttermilk and, with the mixer on lowest speed, beat a full 60 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Beat on high speed about 3 minutes, until the batter is smooth, light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and beater again.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top feels springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the layers in their pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then run a knife between the cake sides and the pans, top each layer with a plate or wax paper-covered wire rack and invert. Lift off pans. Cool the layers completely on wire racks.
5. To prepare the buttercream: In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until very sort and creamy. Slowly beat in about 2 cups of the sifted sugar, then scrape down the bowl and beater. Add 2 more cups of the sugar, cocoa, coffee and vanilla, beating until completely smooth and very creamy. Add the remaining sugar as needed to bring to spreading consistency.
6. To assemble the cake: Place a dab of buttercream in the center of the foil-covered cardboard disk or on a serving plate. Center one layer on the desk. Spread the layer with about 1 cup of the buttercream, top with the second layer, and then align the cake sides. Spread icing over the cake sides, then the top.

No comments:

Post a Comment