One year of blogging! It passed with astonishing speed, proving that time flies when you’re having fun!   It’s surely been fun, sharing what happens in our kitchen with friends, family and lots of other folks, and getting acquainted (at least virtually) with new people and bloggers through comments and emails.

A cake is a mandatory birthday celebration!  Unfortunately,  cake and Sally don’t make a good match.   But in the name of this special occasion I faced my demons and baked a cake. Choosing the recipe wasn’t easy, but I decided by elimination: genoise was out of the question, I’d rather be tortured.   Any recipes involving the instructions “cream the butter with the sugar” were also excluded.  Then, browsing the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I spotted a layered chocolate raspberry cake and I was smitten: that was it! Luscious, beautiful, perfect… would you believe  that the recipe didn’t need an electric mixer?  Instead, two bowls and a whisk…. my kind of recipe!  Even the layering didn’t bother me (although it should have, … but  ignorance is bliss).

So, here it is, my first layered cake, in honor of my baby blog…

(from Bon Appetit, June 2010)

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 + 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (maximum 61% cocoa), chopped
2 + 1/4 cups whipping cream
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, divided
resh raspberries
powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Line their bottoms with parchment paper rounds and spray the rounds. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; whisk to blend and form a well in the center. Whisk 1 cup of water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Pour the wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

for the ganache and raspberry topping;
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Pour it over the chocolate.  Let stand for 1 minute, then stir until the ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 + 1/4 cups of the ganache to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let the remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until  lukewarm.

Invert one cake onto a cardboard round or the bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Peel off the parchment paper and spread 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam over the top, then spoon dollops of chilled ganache over the surface, spreading it around.   Invert the second cake onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom.  Peel off  its parchment paper. Carefully slide the cake off its round and onto the frosted cake layer.  Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam over top of the second cake layer, and pour half of the lukewarm ganache over the cake, spreading it over the sides to cover.  Place the cake in the freezer until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes. Pour the remaining ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down sides and spreading over the sides if needed for even coverage and smooth edges. Freeze again to set the ganache, about 30 minutes.

Arrange the raspberries in concentric circles atop the cake, then sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I wish that my cake-phobia was cured, but now I have a few more reasons to stick with breads and pizzas.   At first  my confidence grew as the batter behaved exactly as anticipated, filling two 9-inch cake pans and baking into beautiful brown cakes with only a slight dome in the center.  But the Cake Gods  weren’t quite finished with their conspiracy against me.   Spreading the ganache was nightmarish, to put it mildly. Thinking back, I realize that it wasn’t quite  hard enough to spread, so instead of forming a nice thick layer, it ran down the sides, but my cake-naivete made me go on, thinking  that eventually everything would be OK.

When I placed the second cake on top of the first, once all the slippage-fiesta stopped, the ganache layer had a big gap all around the edges, that stubbornly resisted my attempts to fill it.  In despair, I checked my cake pans, and was shocked and appalled to realize that they were not identical in size – a small difference from one brand of pan to another, which made my layers unequal. My last hope was that the “lukewarm icing” would solve all the problems and make a beautiful, smooth covering of all the boo-boos. But, this was not the case.  Not a chance.  To make a  long story short, my cake ended a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.  Its sides had nothing to do with the “picture perfect” look in the magazine.    I had hoped to post a picture of my cake on a gorgeous stand with a nice candle in the center, but I settled instead for the only photo that showed more cake than boo-boos.

Cake, my friends, is not for sissies…But, even if its looks were not picture-perfect, it disappeared in an afternoon, devoured with gusto by hungry grad students!  The flavor was amazing: deep chocolaty, with a tangy background of raspberries, not overly sweet, but decadent.  I guess there might be hope for next year… 😉

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One year ago…. Welcome to my blog!

28 thoughts on “BEWITCHING BIRTHDAY!

  1. AWESOME: Happy B-day to Bewitching Kitchen; and that cake looks fabulous. I know you fretted over it, but looks like your labor of love made it all good! I’m confident you’ll forget your fears and attempt more cakes in the near future! Your breads inspire me all the time and I’m sure you can remember your pre-bread baker days!


  2. Salete,

    Embora eu não aproveite tanto das recietas quanto gostaria, a leitura do seu blog é simplesmente adorável! A diversão não é só sua, podes crer! É de todos que o acessam.


  3. Parabéns, Sally!
    I can’t believe it’s been one year already!
    Estou sempre de olho nas suas receitas, um dia terei a coragem de me jogar nos pães e fazer uns tão lindos quanto os seus.
    Muitos anos de ótimas receitas para o Bewitching Kitchen!


  4. See now I think cake is easy and bread is HARD! 🙂 But layers are hard for sure, I always have to use a knife to level them up so they stack flat.

    How did it taste? That is the part that really matters.


    • Sweet Potato & Tricia: thank you!

      I hope I don’t have to use a knife to level a cake, it will never have a happy ending!

      It tasted very good, I have to say, but breads are so much easier!


  5. Felicitations Sally! Your cake making mirrors my experiences almost perfectly. But you made a ganache, some folks can’t do them so you are still ahead. Oh yes! And I seem to remember you made the dundee cake alonga Dan and we survived that pretty well 🙂

    I have been known to stab the layer cakes through with a skewer or two to hold them together while they are sliding around and then stick birthday candles in the holes later.


    • Celia & Joanna – the sliding was nerve wrecking…. I liked the tip about the skewer, will have to remember that IF I ever commit the mistake of baking another layered cake…


  6. I cannot believe it’s been one year already! I have certainly enjoyed reading this blog, it’s a “can’t miss” site.
    Your cake looks perfect to me!


  7. Congratulations on your Blog’s milestone! It’s the only cooking blog I currently follow as your tastes and attitudes re: food are quite similiar to mine. As soon as my home remodeling projects are finished (oh, about 2015), I plan to spend quite a bit of time sampling all these delightful offerings of yours.

    Cheers and best wishes!


    • Anna, thank you! That was such a pleasure to find your comment, made me very very happy! Good luck on your home renovation, those things are small ordeals to go through, but so worth it!


  8. Congratulations on a year of blogging! The cake is well-deserved. Maybe you can jump in with us when we get to the cake section of the Modern Baker Challenge?

    I’ve also had trouble with cakes. At least with bread, when it comes out all mis-shapen, you can call it rustic! With cakes, the expectation is for them to look perfect.


    • Thanks so much! I feel bad about not having joined the MB Challenge, it’s too difficult for me to add it to everything else I’m doing, but I’ve been following you guys…. maybe I’ll join for a cake or two… 🙂


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