FIRST MONDAY FAVORITE: FEBRUARY 2017

First Monday of the month, and it’s time to share with you my favorite recipe from January. It was fun to look back at the month and realize there were so many great things happening in the Bewitching Kitchen. I had a tough time picking my favorite, but here it goes, The Carioca Cake! How could I not pick that one? One of the most stressful adventures I faced in the kitchen, but at least it had a happy ending…

If you missed it, here is the link back to it…

carioca-cake

First Monday Favorites is the blog event started by Sid. Participants share their favorite recipe from the previous month. Not necessarily the most popular by views or comments, but our own favorite. Click on the link below to see everyone else’s favorite recipe. And, if you’d like to participate, visit Sid’s website and drop her a line, we firmly believe that the more, the merrier!

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STAY TUNED FOR NEXT MONTH’S FAVORITE! 

😉

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CARREMENT CHOCOLAT: THE SHOW-STOPPER


Carrement Chocolat Cake

Grab a chair, make yourself comfortable, this will take a while.

I suppose I could call this post A Convoluted Approach to Cake Baking.  I won’t publish the full recipe, as that would not be fair with Dorie Greenspan. After all, it’s the cake on the cover of her book, a cake she developed as an alternative for one of those masterpieces conceived by Pierre Hermé, and I am sure a lot of sweat and who knows, maybe a few tears were involved in her culinary quest to perfect it. Those truly interested can get a copy of her latest book, which by the way, I reviewed not too long ago (shameless self-promotion).

The cake has five components. FIVE. Which proves I was not in the right frame of mind when I decided to go for it. Let’s count them together:

1. A chocolate cake that must be sliced in half.
2. A chocolate filling, custard-type.
3. A syrup to soak the cake.
4. A ganache to ice the cake.
5. A topping of cubed bittersweet chocolate, salted. Surprisingly, those cubes are not simple pieces of chocolate that you can grab in the store. You are supposed to make them yourself.

That was the cake chosen to celebrate my 6 years of blogging.  Excuse me while I wipe tears from my face, I laughed so hard I cried a little…   Moving on…

The cake is a typical French layer cake, supposed to be shorter than your regular American type layer cake. Short and sweet… A single cake, baked in a 8 x 2 inch round pan, sliced in half, etc etc.  Please notice that the composite photo below clearly shows two cakes instead of one. Has Sally gone mad? I won’t answer this specific question. Let’s just say that I allowed the first cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then inverted it on a rack  as instructed. One fourth of the cake stayed inside the pan, laughing at me (insert crass language here). I scraped it all as carefully as I could, pasted the pieces together, but of course realized that slicing that poor baby in half would be impossible for someone with my skills. Quickly, I assembled all the ingredients again and baked a second cake. The level of distress was getting a bit high, and it was only 8:30 am on a sunny Saturday.

composite
For the second cake, I used parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan, and greased the living bejesus out of it. I also waited 30 minutes to invert it. That cake unmolded like it was baked by an expert  on Ace of Cakes. I danced a little to celebrate, and moved on to the making of the chocolate custard filling. The recipe starts mixing whole milk with sugar, so I promptly mixed the 3 tablespoons of sugar called for in the ingredients and proceeded to warm up the milk, only to find out that in that stage you add only 1.5 tablespoons of sugar.  The remaining sugar is beaten with egg yolks a little later in the method (Sally visualizes Dorie Greenspan giving a small lecture on how to read a recipe carefully before starting to make it). Poured the milk down the drain (please, don’t lecture me on waste), started all over.  The custard almost curdled on me, but it did not.  I danced a little to celebrate, and moved on to the making of the salted chocolate cubes and shards.

SaltedChoc

That involves melting good quality semi-sweet chocolate, gently and carefully, and adding the correct amount of Maldon salt flakes.  I did all that, but thought that the amount of chocolate seemed a little small. What the heck, Dorie knows what she’s doing when it comes to cakes. Placed the concoction in the freezer, where it would stay until next day. In theory. Not in practice. Later, much later that day, while I was making the icing, I noticed something under the stove peeking out. Four squares of semi-sweet chocolate that somehow found their way there, and only by a miracle were not consumed by Buck, the forever famished Jack Russell who sniffs and swallows food items within a mile in 1 second flat.

Puzzled, I tried to find out in which step of the recipe I lost that chocolate. I had just weighed the chocolate for the icing, and those pieces were the exact weight I expected them to be. So the missing pieces had to be for the chocolate cubes, the salted chocolate now in the freezer. Hummmm… that doesn’t bode well, does it?   Already worried, I went to the freezer, grabbed the salted batch, unwrapped it, whacked a little piece and tasted it… Aaargh!!!!!!  Way way WAY too salty, absolutely horrible, it would have ruined my cake…  Back to square one, I quickly re-made the salted chocolate and put it in the freezer at 9 pm on a Saturday evening that felt as if I had run a marathon in Arizona, mid-July.

Next day, the big day of assembling my masterpiece!  I had an important decision to make, go for a single cake sliced in half, or do a double cake using both layers.  Thinking back, I should have used the good cake, sliced in half, and frozen the other one to make something like a trifle, maybe? But I got greedy. Made the simple syrup, spooned some on the first cake, placed it over a rack on a baking sheet.  Added the filling. Topped with the second cake, added syrup, and placed the whole thing in the fridge for one hour.  I have a picture for you from that stage, and those who are experienced cake bakers might be able to see the type of trouble I set myself for.

fridge

Two problems… I think the cakes, although baked in the exact same pan (I simply washed it after the first cake played that nasty trick on me), ended up with slightly different diameters, so the top one was just a tiny bit bigger. I did not even notice at first.  Second problem, I did not allow the filling to ooze out, thinking that it would be too messy.  I am the daughter of my Dad, and we both hate any type of sugary mess. That was a major faux-pas, because I did not end up with a smooth surface in between the layers. Once I was done covering the cake (with not enough icing, I should add), the whole thing looked like Pillsbury Dough Boy going out for a karate lesson with the belt tightened too tight.  No bueno, folks, no bueno.  By then, I was in complete distress, rushed to the backyard where the husband was covered in sweat and mud while trimming trees, and informed him that my cake had been ruined. I also informed him that I would never ever be taking a picture of that “thing”, or any other cake again. And, finally I made it clear that my blogging days were over. I know for a fact that he rolled his eyes to the skies above, but he refuses to admit it, saying it was my imagination. Still, after pointing out the harsh reality that I often receive a lot more sympathy from our dogs, he promised to go back inside and help me out. Then, he reminded me that his Grandma was a fantastic cake baker and he’s got her genes (insert my own eye roll here, it’s appalling the type of stuff I have to put up with; I’ve got some great genes too, just don’t walk around bragging about them).

Staring at the cake, he said “it’s not that bad.”  That, in Phil’s speech means “Holy cow, you really screwed this one up big time!”.  He analyzed the situation and asked me to make a second batch of icing. At that point the cake was already costing me three times as much as it should, but who am I to count pennies in such a situation?  A full batch of icing was made and cooled while we had dinner. Late that Sunday, my dear husband put perfect icing music on, and patiently covered all boo-boos, smoothing out the surface as best as he could. Then I topped the cake with a properly salted batch of chocolate cubes and shards. And collapsed on the sofa.

Slice

THE OUTCOME

All the struggle was more than worthy!  The cake was absolutely delicious, rich, decadent, and the topping of salted chocolate, salted just right, by the way… was the perfect match for the cake underneath it.   My advice for those who want to try it:  read the recipe carefully, spread the preparation over a couple of days, and make it short and sweet as intended. One cake, sliced in half, no need for more.  Squish the cake filling so that it oozes out, like a competent brick layer would do with cement. Don’t worry about the mess. It will ensure that the layers will be well matched, and the icing will cover it all as icing is meant to do. On a side note, there must be some type of literally prize for someone who manages to use cake filling and cement in the same phrase. No? Well, that’s a shame!

Dorie, thanks for a fantastic recipe, it was a great opportunity to push my limits.  And of course, a special thank you to the man who stands by me when even I can hardly stand myself… Thanks to him, I shall keep on blogging…

Most important lesson learned: never underestimate your opponent. Never!

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Salmon Sous-Vide with Miso-Maple Glaze

TWO YEARS AGO: Avocado “Hummus”.

THREE YEARS AGO: Moving is not for sissies!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Awesome Broccolini

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pizza! Pizza!

SIX YEARS AGO:  From Backyard to Kitchen

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS FOUR!

cake2
June 16th, 2013

My beloved blog turns 4  years old today! To celebrate, I assembled all the cake suggestions my readers offered two years ago, assigned numbers to each of them, and drew the winner cake. Celia’s suggestion was the lucky one, so I gathered all ingredients, took a deep breath and made her White Chocolate Bundt Cake to celebrate the occasion…

She wrote a great post about this cake, one that made the process almost pain-free to a person who hyperventilates with just a glimpse of a Bundt pan. Those crevices are evil. To make matters worse, the cake included that dreadful step of creaming sugar with butter.  But, a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. I did not run away from it, kicking and screaming. Sometimes it is good to resist a first impulse.

WHITE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE
(from Celia’s  blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

for the cake:
450g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
250g unsalted butter, softened
440g white sugar
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
5 large (59g) eggs, at room temperature
115g white chocolate, melted and still warm
250g thick Greek yoghurt
115g  white chocolate chunks or chips

for the topping (optional):
115g (4oz) white chocolate
65ml (¼ cup) heavy cream
115g (4oz) milk chocolate

Heat oven to 350F.   Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with oil.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Slowly beat in the melted white chocolate. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour mixture to the butter in thirds, alternating with the Greek yoghurt. Beat for 45 seconds after each addition. You want to end with flour rather than yoghurt (improves the final texture of the batter). Place the batter in the pan in three layers, separating each layer with the white chocolate chips.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, but start checking after 45 minutes.   The top will be brown and a sharp thin knife inserted in the center will come out with a few crumbs on it. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then gently loosen around the edges before inverting onto a wire rack to allow the cake to finish cooling at room temperature.

Topping:  In a glass or ceramic bowl, heat the white chocolate with the cream until just melted. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle over the cake.  In a separate bowl, heat the milk chocolate in the microwave until just melted. Stir until smooth.  Drizzle over the cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Things went extremely well with this cake from making the batter to inverting the pan to reveal a perfect cake in all its gorgeous glory!
I was already thrilled because contrary to 99.5% of the cake recipes I’ve tried, this one actually produced enough batter to fill the pan to proper capacity.  Every other recipe leaves me wondering if my kitchen has some type of black hole that sucks cake batters and takes them to another dimension.  Now, this is a nice looking Bundt pan, ready to be baked.

photo(10)
I baked the cake, allowed it to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, chronometer in hand, heart pounding fast. And voilá, when I inverted the pan, this is the vision I was rewarded with:

photo(7)
Is this a thing of complete beauty or what?  I BAKED THAT!  I know, I know, unreal…   I did several victory laps around the kitchen island, then a few around the house. Oscar followed me, wagging his tail, Buck got scared and ran away to hide.  Chief?  He slept through the whole celebration, but I won’t take that personally. A 14-year old dog earned his right to sleep through anything!

Time to ice the cake. That’s when the road got a little bumpy.  I should have read Celia’s post more carefully. She added a note to say that the white chocolate ganache is usually too liquid, so she prefers to simply melt the pure white chocolate to drizzle on top.  Well, my ganache was so liquid it disappeared into the cake.  I also did not do a very good job with the dark chocolate drizzle, so in the end I covered the whole cake with powdered sugar on top of the drizzle for cosmetic reasons.  Over-kill? Maybe.  I do agree with Celia, though. This cake is so amazing, a simple dusting with powdered sugar is more than enough.  We took a platter to the department and everyone loved it!

photo(13)
One thousand four-hundred and sixty-one days blogging.  Food blogging brings many wonderful things with it. First, the virtual connections made with readers and other bloggers. Too special for words.  Second, it provides a journal of our adventures: travels for work and/or pleasure,  a sabbatical with its nano-kitchen challenge, the move of our home and lab to Kansas.  Third, it is a valuable database of recipes we tried and enjoyed. I normally don’t blog on a recipe that didn’t work, unless I feel it’s worth re-visiting it.  Sometimes I like to pick a recipe at random from the index, and read about what was going on with us at the time. Were we in Los Angeles when I baked that? Was that post written during a dreadful ice storm in Oklahoma?  Was Pits, our beautiful dalmatian still hanging around in our kitchen, stealing butter and T-bone steaks from the countertop? Has it really been four years?  😉

A very wise and dear mentor, Leon Rosenberg once told me: “Memory fails. Keep a diary.  You will be glad you did”.  I am sure glad I started this site, the closest thing to a diary I can keep up with…

To my readers, followers, fellow food bloggers, friends in real and virtual life, thanks for stopping by and warming up this place with your presence!
Now, I invite you to join me as I start the fifth year of Bewitching Kitchen!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three!

TWO YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns two!

THREE YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

GOT STOUT?

Make a chocolate stout cake!

This wasn’t just any stout beer …it was a stout made by Chuck, a graduate student in our lab, who is soon to become Dr. Chuck.  In my husband’s opinion he already deserves a PhD in beer making.  We like to think that growing bacteria in our lab on a regular basis helped him master the brewer’s yeast, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.  What matters is that Chuck has been producing amazing beer, and he often shares his favorites with us. I love to cook with beer, so when he gave us a couple of bottles of his oatmeal stout I immediately reserved one  to make this cake.  As an added bonus, it gave me a chance to use this very cool baking pan, that was sitting ignored in our kitchen for way too long, from my cake-phobia.

CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKE
(from Bon Appetit, September 2002)

1 cup stout beer
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Heat the oven to 350°F.  If using a bundt type pan (or the flower pan I did), make sure to coat all the ridges with melted butter, using a brush.  Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is fully  smooth.  Allow it to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, beat eggs and sour cream until blended, preferably using an electric mixer.  Add the  beer-chocolate mixture to the egg- sour cream and beat just until combined. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a spatula, fold the batter to make sure everything is well mixed, with no clumps of flour remaining.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 35to 40 minutes for a single cake, or 25 to 30 minutes for a 6-single cake pan. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack.  Serve with a dust of powdered sugar on top, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

To my taste, this cake is close to perfect!  The bitterness of the beer cuts any excessive sweetness, making this chocolate cake a “grown-up” dessert.   The original recipe called for a ganache coating, but I opted for a light dusting of powdered sugar instead.

The flower pan makes for a nice presentation, but one cake might be a bit too big for a single person.  I was happy with half, saving the other half for later.  About 5 minutes later, that is…   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: The Odd Couple

ONE YEAR AGO: Cottage Loaf and Yeasty Dogs

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CHOCOLATE INTENSITY

Last week we hosted a reception at our home, but the guest of honor had a serious gluten allergy, so I chose a flourless chocolate cake as the dessert.  I’ve made this type of cake several other times, but on this occasion I went with a new recipe whose name I couldn’t resist:  Chocolate Intensity Cake.  Nothing beats that! The cake bakes in a water bath to ensure its fudgy texture, and then it gets smothered in chocolate ganache, as a double dose of goodness.  If you’re a cake-pro,  go for a completely smooth icing and perhaps some decoration with ganache on top. I went with swirls, for reasons that I won’t discuss in public.

CHOCOLATE INTENSITY CAKE
(from The Cake Book, by Tish Boyle)

for the cake                                                                              
8 ounces 62% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 + ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup strong brewed coffee
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt

for the glaze
6 ounces  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅔ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform cake pan.

Place chopped chocolate in a large bow and set aside. Place the butter, sugar, and coffee in a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to boil. Pour the hot butter mixture over the chopped chocolate, let it sit undisturbed for one minute, then whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs until completely blended.  Add the vanilla extract and salt, mix again.  Pour a small amount of the hot chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisk gently, and add all the egg mixture into the bowl with the hot chocolate.

Pour the batter into the springform pan.  Wrap the outside with three layers of aluminum foil, place it inside a large roasting pan and pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan  Bake cake in the water bath for 35 to 45 minutes, until the center is still a bit shiny but almost set  Carefully transfer the cake pan to wire rack and let the cake cool for 20 minutes. Run a thin bladed paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, open the springform, and place the cake over a plate still on the bottom of the pan.  Refrigerate for at least  2 hours before adding the glaze.

Make the glaze by adding the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream almost to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until completely smooth, add the vanilla, and stir again.  Let it sit for 5 minutes at room temperature, then slowly pour the glaze over the chocolate cake, starting from the center. Smooth the surface and sides with an offset spatula.   Refrigerate the cake, and bring to room temperature for 1 hour before slicing it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I was nervous about serving this cake at the reception, because I hadn’t yet tested the recipe.  So, I stressed over the baking time, stressed over glazing, stressed over when to remove it from the fridge, and if that wasn’t enough, I  stressed about how to serve it without completely butchering the slices. That last part was easy, I handed the knife to my beloved husband.  😉

To my relief, the compliments kept coming, two guests said it was THE BEST cake they had ever had, and they were using all caps for the statement.  Two commented on the pleasant “smokiness,” wondering where that could be  coming from, and indeed, it was the coffee singing in the background.  Coffee and chocolate, hand in hand, a perfect match.

I must say that this cake was awesome.  The ganache becomes a single entity with the cake, making a velvety, smooth texture.  A tiny slice will be enough because it’s so rich, but the intense chocolate flavor will linger in your mind, and you may find yourself reaching for a second slice, just to make sure you weren’t dreaming!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Semolina Barbecue Buns

TWO YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

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THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BAKING

My husband and I agree on most important subjects, from personal finances to laboratory experiments.  However, we  can’t decide who is the most stubborn.  Obviously, it is not me, but this week, I confess to a certain amount of stubborn determination…  

…I baked a cake.

FONDANT AU CHOCOLAT
(from a food blog)

175 g  bittersweet chocolate
240 g  butter
400 g sugar
8 eggs
130 g all purpose flour

Butter a 10-inch round cake pan.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and reserve.

Place a pan with a small amount of water inside over the stove burner, and bring the water almost to a boil.  Place a large bowl over the simmering water, and add to it the sugar and the eggs (still cold from the fridge).   Beat them together with a whisk or an electric beater, just until the mixture is at room temperature.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg/sugar, whisk to incorporate.   Sift the flour over it in three additions, and mix with a spatula until smooth, but do not over-mix.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake in a 350F oven until barely set in the center.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was the most straightforward recipe!  No creaming butter and sugar, no cooking syrup to the  “hair-of-an-angel” state, held at exactly 237.8 F while pouring over the spinning blades of a  mixer. Still, I created another Armageddon in my kitchen.

The recipe instructed to bake the cake for 30 minutes until barely set.  I baked for 35 minutes and it seemed set. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick a tester in the center because I didn’t want to ruin the surface.   Unfortunately, I trusted my  “instincts” and removed it from the oven. You’ll notice that I omitted the baking time in the recipe: please use a toothpick to make sure the fondant is cooked.

The recipe didn’t specify when or how to unmold it.  I am aware that some cakes should  cool in the pan,  others should come out right away.  I compromised  and waited 10 minutes.  It unmolded easily, but while flipping it over, the cake broke in two unequal pieces. One fell on the cake stand, the other on the countertop. Between them flowed a voluminous  lava of chocolate batter, too much to qualify my production as a “molten chocolate cake“.   Instead it became a “Cocoa Tsunami”, that took no prisoners.

I admit to shedding a few tears.  The saint I married assembled the pieces on a baking sheet,  placed them back in the oven at a mellow 325 F for 30 minutes, and I regained my composure.  Once both the cake and I had cooled off,  I shaved chocolate all over to cover the abuse.

Fate has repeatedly told me to stay away from cake baking.   I’m  just too stubborn, perhaps I must now admit, more than the man I married.   But, no need to tell him that…   😉

Notes to self:
1. Never use your bare hands to stop a flow of hot cake batter.
2. Chocolate fondant cake is so awesome that it’s worth the struggle.

ONE YEAR AGO: Pain de Campagne

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receita em portugues na proxima pagina

BEWITCHING BIRTHDAY!

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…

CHOCOLATE-RASPBERRY LAYERED CAKE
(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.

ENJOY!

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!