Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Brother's Chocolate Cake


A brother's birthday is a very important event. I have 3 brothers, and they are all special to me in different ways. My youngest brother recently turned 13 and to celebrate we held a family dinner ending with a slice (or two) of birthday cake after blowing out the candles.

I made devil's food cake filled and frosted with a chocolate Italian meringue buttercream. The light and not too sweet buttercream pairs well with the rich chocolate cake and I was very happy with the look on the birthday boys face when he saw his cake.

The cake itself was easy to make and although the frosting is a little more involved than a regular buttercream, the taste is worth it. The decorations on the cake were easy but very effective, and I would love to make more cakes just like this one again and again.



Devil's Food Cake
From Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8 inch triple layer cake (I made a half-recipe for a 6 inch double layer cake)

1 cup cocoa
1¼ cups hot water
3 cups of light brown sugar; packed
2⅔ cups cake flour
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp of salt
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1½ tsp of vanilla extract
¾ cup cold water

1.   Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with baking paper and grease the paper as well.

2.   Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature.

3.   In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and dissolved cocoa and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

4.   In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.

5.   Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted almost comes out clean. There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

I can't resist making at least one cupcake!

Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream
Makes enough icing to frost and fill an 8 inch cake or pipe swirls on 24 cupcakes.

1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 egg whites
300g unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, melted

1.   Place the sugar and the egg whites in a heat proof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water. The base of the bowl should not be touching the water.

2.   Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. You can tell if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a little of the mix between your fingers. If you can feel the sugar crystal keep whisking.

3.   Transfer the mix to a large mixing bowl and beat on high for about 10 minutes. You can stop beating when the mix is cool. The mix will be thick and pure white a bit like meringue.

5.   Add the butter one piece at a time, beating until smooth between each addition. This step should take at least 6 minutes. Don't worry if the mix looks as if it may curdle, it will come together in the end.

6.   Once the butter has been added mix through the vanilla and melted chocolate. The melted chocolate must be cool.

This buttercream stores well in the refrigerator and makes a great chocolate cake filling. Be careful though not to leave it out in hot conditions as it could melt.


Exploding Star Decorations

Once the cake layers are cool, fill and frost with the chocolate buttercream and smooth the sides with a spatula or scraper until as smooth as possible.

Roll out fondant to ~5mm thick. Cut out any shapes you wish - I used different sized star cutters. While the fondant is still soft, carefully insert florist wire (special wire wrapped with paper tape) into the stars and allow to dry for at least a few hours until firm. Cut the wire to different lengths, then insert into the cake as you desire.

I covered up where the stars are inserted with a name plaque, hand cut out of fondant and piped with royal icing. The bow in front of the cake was made from rolled fondant with help from Cakejournal's tutorial. The plaque and bow need to dry overnight to hold their shape. Happy Baking!

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