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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chocolate Cake

Yet another chocolate base recipe, but a good one, so tune in.

(You must forgive me for not taking a picture of what the cake should look like inside; but here is an example  to show the four layers and the filling from 

I think the method in making a chocolate cake is important, particularly where it involves creaming the butter, sugar and eggs together. You'd want to make sure during the creaming process that you get as much air into the mixture as possible, because after you add the flour your technique needs to shift from beating to folding. The biggest no no's in cake making is over-mixing or over beating the cake batter. Not only does it give a dry textured cake at the end, the excess beating of the cake batter will activate the gluten in the flour, thus giving the cake a doughy texture; not very nice to eat really. 

I find the cake turns out better when the cocoa (in the recipe) is mixed in last. Why? I don't know to be honest. There's something funny about cocoa, but if you mix it in too early, it some how affects the taste and texture of the cake. I may be wrong, but I'm just talking with what I've experienced in baking a chocolate cake. 

The recipe provided makes two 20cm diameter cakes (i.e. that the batter is to be divided between two 20cm diameter cake pans), which can be sliced in half after baking creating four thin layers in total. Alternatively, you can stick with have two thicker sized layers. Do note that a dome may form on top of the cake. I would recommend that you use a serrated knife to remove it, so it gives you a flat surface to work with. Also, it would make the cake a lot easier to fill.

With the scraps (i.e. from the dome), don't throw them away. Either crumble them up with your fingers or place them in a food processor to blitz, and use the crumbs to decorate the sides of the cake. Not only does it mean you can be a little more lax about the way you ice the cake, but also that nothing goes to waste.

As for the filling, a chocolate buttercream or even chocolate ganache would be great. I would suggest buttercream if you'd like something not too rich, and chocolate ganache if you're a chocoholic like myself. You could also work with both, such as filling the layer with buttercream and then drizzling some chocolate ganache over the buttercream. Just be creative!

I've used this cake a number of times, my last being for a Cookies and Cream Cake:

 If you look closely, I have used the remainder crumbs as decoration on top of the cake. It was meant to resemble cookie crumbs, in particular Oreo cookies (*twist, lick and dunk). Apologies for the bad quality photo, I only had my Iphone on me at that time and was still looking into purchasing a DSLR (which I have now, finally! I'm currently using a Nikon D7000)

Okay now for the recipe! Trust me, this will definitely a crowd pleaser.

Chocolate Cake Recipe

227g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Caster Sugar
5 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Self Rising Flour
170ml Full Cream Milk (Buttermilk is also fine; it will give you a moist cake)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (Be liberal as to how much vanilla you'd like to add in)
1 cup Cocoa powder, sifted 

1. Preheat oven to 170C, and line two 20cm diameter cake pans with baking paper.
2. In an electric mixer, on a medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You'd want to spend a little more time on this step so to incorporate more air into the mixture to give a fluffier cake.
3. One at a time, beat in each egg. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated into the butter mixer before beating in the next one. If you find the mixture is splitting, at in one tablespoon of the flour to bind it.
4. Turn the mixer to a medium low speed.
5. Alternatively, mix in the flour, full cream milk and vanilla  until all incorporated. (I.e. mix in 1/3 cup of the flour, then 1/3 cup of the milk alternatively until all used up).
6.  Turn off the mixer before adding in the cocoa. Then on a medium low speed mix the batter until all the cocoa is incorporated into the batter. Be careful not to overmix or overwork the mixture.
7. Divide the batter between the two baking pans, and smooth out the tops before putting the cake pans into the oven.
8. Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until cooked. It is best to start checking the cake at the 35 minute mark given that all ovens bake differently.
9. Cool the cake in their tins before turning them out to ice. Note that if you freeze you cakes in the freezer for a bit, it is easier to ice the cakes.
10. Ice the cakes with your preferred icing. You can keep the layers as is, or slice each in half to get four layers in total.

Happy Baking! Enjoy!

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