Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rough week? Eat Cake.

So, as soon as Tyrone and I got back from week 1 of vacation (week 2 starts Sunday), we were bombarded with work, work, and more work. Granted, it would only be 2.5 weeks until week 2 of vacation, but we were totally stressed and exhausted and needed some comforting.

Can you really think of anything more comforting than a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and a glass of milk? Now, we're talking crazy busy rainy New York City here. The kind of crazy busy rainy city that makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and hide. Or just curl up with a movie and eat some cake.

So, I did just that. Only temporary relief, but totally rejuvenating through the whole process. I will admit though, I'm still counting the days until vacation...

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder (you can use either dutch-processed or natural, but use a good one)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (be sure to shake the bottle before pouring)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 round 8-inch cake pans, both bottom and sides, then line bottom with circles of parchment paper to keep from sticking.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.

3. In a small bowl (I just used a 2-cup measuring cup), combine buttermilk, oil, eggs lightly beaten, and vanilla.

4. With handheld or stand mixer, start mixing dry ingredients on low speed and incorporate wet ingredients gradually, then add hot coffee mixing until just combined. Scrape bottom of bowl with rubber spatula to make sure nothing is sticking.

5. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes. I would suggest rotating half way through bake time to ensure they bake evenly. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.

6. Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, then cool completely out of pan on rack.

7. To ice the cake (recipe below): I usually like to trim the tops with a serrated knife to make sure the layers sit more evenly. With a knife or frosting spatula, drop about 1/2 cup frosting in center on top of first layer, and spread gently outward to all sides. Place second layer on top, rounded side up, and place about one cup of frosting in center, spreading along top and sides of cake. The nice thing about an old-fashioned cake like this is the icing is not supposed to be perfect.

Chocolate Frosting:

6 oz. good semi- or bitter- sweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet)
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

1. Chop up chocolate and put in double boiler. Stir until just melted and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter for about 4 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for about 3 minutes.

3. Gradually add confectioner's sugar while mixing at low speed, scrape down sides of bowl, then mix at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

4. Dissolve the coffee powder in very hot water in a small bowl.

5. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to batter and mix until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread immediately on cooled cake.

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