Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Can you trust a meat guy with cake? You know I had to find out. Honestly, I waffled a little bit before just going for it.

Sticking to the recipe almost exactly, I deviated by using unsalted instead of salted butter and I didn't trim the round tops of the baked cakes before frosting. Well, that and I took about 4 days from start to finish.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Epicurious
click to print

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
14 tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 c chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
2/3 c freshly brewed strong coffee

1 lb bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
2 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp instant espresso powder

For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides.

Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment.

Having to do all of this buttering and flouring and lining and buttering and flouring seemed like overkill to me, but I'd hate to dig the cake out of the pans later and kick myself over being too lazy to do this.

Place chopped chocolate in medium metal or glass bowl.

Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.

My small saucepan has pourspouts built in which are convenient except when melting chocolate. I made sure to tip the bowl away from the spout where steam was escaping to minimize the possibility of the water going into the chocolate.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and 11/4 cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes.

Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.

With all this liquid the batter is sloppy wet.

Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.

Mmm, now it's lookin' good.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry.

This took 25 minutes which is about double the time it took when I made the chocolate torte though the changes are the same. (Definitely check out the torte if you want to see an egg montage or make a great torte.) Guessing, these eggs are a little older than perfectly fresh.

Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Checked at 25 minutes, the first one was done. The second one was done after 5 more minutes.

Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes.

After 15 minutes the edges of the cakes were clearly pulled away from sides of the pans.

Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely.

The cakes popped right out of the pans. The parchment when peeled off the cake on the right pulled a little bit of the crumb with it; the parchment peeled off the cake on the left leaving the cake perfectly intact.

At this point, I left the cakes alone, putting the cakes and rack right there in the microwave, until I had time to prepare the frosting, which turned out to be two days later.

For frosting:
Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl.

Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan.

Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally.

Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).

Checked after an hour, then again after 1.5 hours before it was whisked. I deemed the frosting spreadable at that point.

Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat.

Place 1 cake layer, round side up, on cake saver. Drop 1 1/4 cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife.

Top with second cake layer, round side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.

Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving (or not).

Cake chilled 24 hours. I decided to cut into it instead of waiting to bring it to work Monday.

Seriously. How is it that Bruce Aidells does not have insane cult-like following? Not only can the dude totally rock meat, but he can rock CAKE.

Trying this recipe was a little weird. On one hand I kept thinking to myself, "of course it's going to come out marvelously! It's an Aidells recipe!" On the other hand, I had a niggling feeling that maybe this one just wasn't going to be right, that the coffee was going to be too much, the chocolate excessive, the stout maybe a little too "beery", that maybe Aidells should just stick to the cooking and leave the baking to the precise hands of bakers. And I'll be damned if none of the major components were too much - they married together like a happy little threesome doing all kinds of pleasing positions in my mouth. Bruce is just a genius any way you cut it.

I even like how the cake looked. The frosting, cold from the refrigerator is quite firm and fudgy; cutting it left nice crisp edges that are pleasing to an OCD person like me. Originally thinking I'd bring the cake to work the morning after frosting it, I'm now clicking my heels together with joy that I'd forgotten the cake when I left. Life is good.

Total: $15.48 or about $1.29 for each of 12 glorious servings, delicious even for breakfast.

I have Ming Tsai on in the background and he's talking about ganache. When I heard him basically describe how to prepare the frosting here, I was stoked to have learned that I already knew how to make ganache. I just didn't know I knew. And now you know I know and I know you know I know. So we're clear on that.