Chocolate layer cake

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One of my brother’s friends is having a birthday party tonight. Every guest is supposed to make  something sweet; of course my brother took the easy route by asking me to bake something. He said I could make whatever I wanted. It can get a bit overwhelming, when you get complete free range like that, can’t it? There are so many things I want to bake, and sometimes it’s hard to decide. Especially when you’re not the one who will be doing the eating. What if my brother’s friends – and the birthday boy! – don’t like what I chose? In the end I decided to go with chocolate. Because, honestly, who doesn’t like chocolate? I’m very pleased with the end result and, to be honest, slightly bitter that I have to give this whole cake away without being able to have a taste!

I took this Devil’s Food cake recipe from this post; I decided to go with a vanilla butter cream instead of the meringue frosting they used. I got some inspiration for the decoration from this lovely post but ended up using (store bought) meringue to top off the cake instead of piping even more butter cream on top of the ganache. I was afraid it’d be a bit of a butter cream overkill!

Chocolate cake

3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup of boiling water
1 cup of buttermilk

1 + 3/4 cups  of flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

165 grams of butter (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar (I used vanilla infused)
1/2 cup of (firmly packed) light brown sugar

3 large eggs

What to do

01. Pour the boiling water onto the cocoa until you get a thick goo. Let this set until it’s lukewarm, then add the buttermilk and stir until completely dissolved and you have a chocolate-milk.
02. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt – set aside
03. In a large bowl cream the soft butter with a handheld mixer until very fluffy. Add the (vanilla infused) sugar and mix until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and mix well again.
04. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well with your mixer after every addition.
05. Add the flour and milk mixture – flour|milk|flour|milk|flour – mixing the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon after every addition. Mix until you have a smooth batter, but don’t overwork the flour.
06. Divide your batter over two 23 cm diameter cake tins. Bake them for about 22 to 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C (160°C fan oven)

07. Let your cakes cool out of their tins, flipped – so the top is now on the bottom, to make your cakes as flat and even as possible.

Butter cream and ganache

To ice this layer cake I made a butter cream from 500 grams of butter. I added one vanilla bean and added sugar until I thought it was sweet enough.
The ganache was made with 200 grams of dark chocolate (I used 100 grams of very dark 72% chocolate, and 100 grams of a slightly milder, 57% chocolate), 1 table spoon of honey and 2/3 cup of cream. (Wait until you’ve frosted your cake to make this!) Put ingredients in a pot and let it melt slowly on the heat, stirring constantly until you have a smooth, glossy ganache.

Assemble!

To assemble the cake, spread a generous amount of butter cream on your first cake. Make sure you have spread the butter cream a little higher in the middle, so that when you put your second cake on top and press firmly, the butter cream will be pushed outward towards the edges. Add a thin layer of icing to the top and sides of your cake. This is your crumb layer – there’ll be chocolate cake crumbs everywhere, probably. (There were, for me!) Put the cake in the freezer to let it set for about 30 minutes before moving on with icing. Now the crumbs will have set and your cake should be a lot easier to frost – without crumbs everywhere!

After you’re happy with your frosting job, make your ganache while your cake is chilling in the fridge. Make sure your ganache isn’t too hot, and carefully pour it over your cake. Help it spread a little with a spoon or palet knife. Decorate however you want, I thought the meringue were cute and would taste really lovely with the richness of the chocolate.

01Top: crumb layer before freezing.
Bottom: second layer of frosting – a lot neater!

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