Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake to Ever Grace Your Lips

I'm going to be honest here - I find most chocolate cake recipes quite disappointing. They all make promises that they just don't live up to! They claim to be light, or moist, but usually they end up flavourless and... cakey, which is CLEARLY not what one wants in a cake. What I'm trying to say is, after numerous attempts, which I won't exactly call failures, because, really, they were ok, I just never found the right cake for me. The cake of my dreams.

Knowing this, I don't know why I wanted to make this particular recipe. Was it ambition? Stepping up to the challenge? I've never before made a four layer cake, much less one that had chintzy shards of chocolate stuck onto the side. Or rather, was it the experience? Just so I could say that I made a fancy (for me) cake. So that I could be proud of myself for putting so much effort into something that seems so out of my baking league.

I'm calling "all of the above", but I also like to think that, perhaps there was also hope. Hope that I finally found my ultimate go-to chocolate cake, one that I can make for family and friends with passion, even a little bit of joy, anticipating the first bite they take, knowing it will absolutely blow their socks off.

My Nan's birthday was last week. I decided to make this cake for her. As the cake was cut and passed out to my tiny family, the satisfaction for me was not that I got to eat cake. It was the reaction after the first bite. The "oh my gosh" from my cousin who doesn't even like sweets. The internal, visible sighs. The question "what is in this cake?" And the astonished looks when I told them that the incredible flavour is from mixing cocoa with coffee, and the texture partly from olive oil. And of course, cake requests for their own birthday. That is the joy of baking and cooking for me. Seeing others enjoy eating it almost as much as I enjoyed making it.

Someday, I will be able to make something look as good as it does in the magazines.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine


2 cups hot, strong coffee
1.5 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3.5 cups all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups water

Note: if you only want to make a two layer cake, which is what I did last week and it was the perfect amount, I halved the recipe and will post it below.

You will need two 10-inch-round metal cake pans. Prep the pans by spraying with cooking spray, tracing parchment paper around the pan to fit inside. Line the pans with the parchment, spray again and dust with flour.

Add the cocoa to the coffee, mix together and set aside.

Before you measure the flour, sift it. I always thought this was a pointless step, but I tried it this time just to see if there would be any difference, and now I will always do it. To test it out, I measured 3.5 cups of flour, sifted that, and then measured 3.5 cups of the sifted flour. There was at least an extra cup of flour left over! So from now on if you're told to sift, sift.

Mix flour, salt, baking soda and powder, and sugar together.

Add the eggs, vegetable oil (I used olive, as always), vanilla, and water. At this point you may be wondering what the heck you're doing and if this really is the correct recipe. It is. Stick with it, it will all work out.

See? Looks pretty normal.

Slowly mix in the cocoa and coffee mixture.

Pour into pans. The batter will be very thin; it's supposed to be.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean from the middle. I let the cake cool in the pan for about an hour before I dared to take it out to cool on the rack. Refridgerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Next I would suggest you make the ganache.

1.5 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 1/3 cups heavy cream

Chop up your chocolate. Not as easy as it may seem. You can always use chocolate chips :)

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble, then pour over the chocolate.

And you have ganache. Let it cool.

Now for the bark:

4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, in 30 second intervals. When it's 2 thirds melted, stir to melt the rest. Put in bag and drizzle on something that wont stick. I put saran wrap on top of parchment... just stick with parchment. Refridgerate for 10 minutes.


Repeat the other steps, but put all over the chocolate and put in fridge for 30 minutes.

Now to bring it all together (this won't last much longer, I promise! :)

Cut your cakes in half.

"Ice" the cake with the ganache. Starting with the layers and then the top and side. Wait for the ganache to cool before you put it on the cake though. I learnt this the hard way.

Almost there...

Remember to be as messy as possible. I obviously failed at that step.

Break up the chocolate, stick onto the cake. Use more ganache if needed.

Now that you've put the bark on, take it off so that you can actually cut the cake.

I'm so glad that I came across this recipe, and then actually made it. It's rich, extremely chocolately, melt in your mouth moist, and just the right amount of cakey, clearly the kind of cakey that you actually want  ;)

Here's the half recipe:

1 cup hot, strong coffee
3/4 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa
1 3/4 cup sifted flour
1 tsp salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup water

Follow directions above. Bake on 350 for approximately 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

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