Friday, December 6, 2013
Confessions of a Mediocre Cook: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
Miss Priss's 14th birthday was last month. (I know! Fourteen!) As per our tradition, she and I perused cookbooks looking for the perfect birthday cake for this year. I've made several of her cakes over the years, and some were triumphs, I must admit. (As a mediocre cook, I'll take any triumph I can get.)
Alas, we couldn't seem to find just the right recipe. She wanted a chocolate cake this time, so when our cookbooks and a few cookbooks from the library did not satisfy, I began to search the web. You might ask why I didn't start there in the first place; I actually enjoy thumbing through cookbooks.
I found this recipe; I don't recall exactly how I found it. But I pinned it, so I will always know where it is when I need it in the future!
I didn't have the required number of squares of unsweetened chocolate, which led me to call my chef friend in a panic. As ever, she solved my problem: unsweetened cocoa powder and shortening. It worked like a charm. You can see the Crisco in the photo above.
I also made one other alteration to the recipe: instead of plain water, I used strong coffee. I simply stirred a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee crystals (which I keep around for recipes) into the measured hot water. I like the added depth that coffee provides to chocolate recipes.
For those of you who are culinarily challenged, a caveat: making this cake is a real production! It's not at all difficult, but it takes some time investment. And it IS an investment because the result is SO worth it.
Doesn't the batter look luscious? That's because it is, my friends. It is.
Making the frosting is also quite a production. But it is a major sin to make such a wonderful, perfect cake and then smear it with cloying, chemical-laden canned frosting. I loathe canned frosting.
Here's the recipe for the frosting, by the way. This is one of the best frostings I've ever had the pleasure of eating from a spoon. Which I did. Twice.
Recommendation: If you have a chocolate lover in your house or a big celebration in the future (or both), this is THE cake for you. A+