I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's Perfect All American Chocolate Cake and paired it with an adaptation of Martha Stewart's Rich Dark Chocolate Frosting. The frosting is a departure from my usual Swiss meringue buttercream, which never yields a dark shade of brown. No eggs used in this one, just an inordinate amount of chocolate:
Three sticks butter, teaspoon salt and quarter-cup confectioners' sugar were creamed until fluffy with a Kitchen Aid mixer. A pound of melted and room-temperature cooled dark was slowly stirred into the creamed butter. Flavour was intensified by slowly adding in a cooled mix of six tablespoons of Dutched cocoa dissolved in six tablespoons of hot espresso.
I found this frosting to be slightly tricky so I jotted down some notes below.
Another departure from my usual style, I did not tort this cake into four layers. RLB's cake (seen above wrapped airtight in Ziplock, where they were frozen and thawed) is incredibly good so I wanted my tasters to have more of it in proportion to the frosting and filling for every bite.
I fiddled a bit with the frosting, not sure if I wanted it to come down in thick swags along the sides of the cake or to go with my favoured spatula swirl. I went with the first option, but after fiddling too much, I knew that I was no longer in a state that's Zen enough to make relaxed swoops of frosting. Spiral swirls it is, I decided.
The key to the frosting is getting it to the right consistency. Pull some frosting onto the inner sides of the bowl in which it is being mixed. If the frosting holds up and doesn't drip down, it is ready to use. When done correctly, this frosting spreads, swoops and swags like a dream.
Starting with butter that's soft but cold and making sure that the melted chocolate and dissolved cocoa mixture are on the cooler side of room temperature helps in getting it right the first time.
If you end up with a frosting that's too liquid and it drips when you test it agains the inner sides of the mixing bowl, pop the frosting in the fridge. Stir and scrape the sides of the container every 20 minutes.
Now, if you've overshot and the frosting has become too solid, try vigorously stirring the frosting with a spatula, pressing the frosting agains the side of the bowl. If it's still solid, turn your stove on and lightly wave the bowl a foot above the flames (or heated elements). When a bit melts at the sides, take the bowl away from the heat and stir again.
The All American Chocolate Cake is fragile when mixed according to RLB's instructions - or at least, in all my attempts. Instead, I mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another. To the dry ingredients, I mix on low cut pieces of butter until sandy and well blended. I add the wet ingredients in three parts, mixing on medium-high for two minutes and scraping in between. Thanks to Nick Malgieri for this technique.
Gearing down for September when I will be attending UBC medical school, I will maintain this blog with bi-monthly posts. I find baking and blogging calming so I don't see any reason to say goodbye just yet. Thanks to all of you who have been browsing on to my humble blog and please keep coming back.
I can tell I'm excited about September because I seem to be inclined to paste images of the rod of Asclepius these days.
Next week: Tuesdays with Dorie.