Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Are you guys sick of cake yet? I have liked making and tasting these cakes - it has been nice to be able to compare so many recipes so I will hopefully have one that I want to use when I really need a good cake. The last cake was a yellow cake - now onto a chocolate cake.

This recipe seemed very different to me. It is kind of surprising how different recipes can be and still make the same basic thing. The recipe uses a lot of liquid for the amount of solid ingredients and the batter is very runny. I re-read the recipe a few times to make sure I didn't screw up. It was the complete opposite of the last cake I made which had to be spread into the pans.

I had a few disasters while making this cake. My buttermilk was bad so I ended up using some of the dry buttermilk substitute I had. I was a little concerned about this - I don't like making a substitution like this on a cake. My second problem occurred ten minutes into baking. The cake started overflowing like crazy. This one could have been prevented if only I had read the recipe comments on food network. There were a lot of people that had this issue. Sounds like the way to fix this is to either use a 9 inch pan instead of the 8 inch pans or to use a deeper 8 inch pan. I slipped a pan in quick to catch the mess but not quick enough - I have a big mess to clean up now.

Despite the overflow the cake was fantastic. I had to trim the cake a little because of the overflow and it ended up being very crumby and hard to frost. The frosting recipe didn't make any extra so that didn't help either. You can see a few of the crumbs peeking through in my cake but it wasn't to bad. The cake was very moist and chocolaty. The coffee flavor didn't really come through in the cake but it did in the frosting. I am not a coffee drinker but I still liked it in this. My wife and at least one other person didn't like the frosting because of the coffee so keep this in mind if you are serving it to non-coffee drinkers. You could always reduce or eliminate the coffee in the frosting. The frosting had a very good texture and was not too sweet - it went very nicely with the cake. I will definitely use this recipe again.

Thanks to Mary at Passionate Perseverance for this recipe. Her blog is one of the first barefoot blogger blogs I have seen that is not predominantly a food blog. Looks like she has a lot of different topics she blogs on.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Serves 8

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Directions (Chocolate Buttercream recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 8-inch (use deep 8 inch or 9 inch pans) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  3. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Birthday Sheet Cake

A little late on this on but better late than never. As I mentioned in my last post I actually had an event I could use a sheet cake at. The last cake I made I wanted to rent the pan since I figured I would probably never make a large cake like this again - imagine my surprise when I was making one just a month later.

The event was a Reunion picnic for the Rev-Elations chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association. It is the first time they tried this and I wanted to try to make it a little more special with the cake. The frosting job was a little difficult. As you can see a lot of writing in not a lot of space - I think my hand is still cramping up from doing the lettering. I think the frosting job came out pretty good though. The event was also a big success - lots of good food and good times with all the past and current members. If you want to know more about the Christian Motorcycle Association and what we do please check out this link.

Now on to the cake. I was a little worried after reading all the food network reviews. It has the lowest rating of he recipes that I have seen. People didn't like the lemon, the cake was dry, it overflowed... Well a lot of the problems seemed to be with people adjusting the cake for a different size pan - this can be difficult if you don't know what you are doing. I like citrus so I decided to leave that as well. I am not sure I have ever made a cake with sour cream or corn starch as ingredients. This would defintly be an experiment.

The cake was very good. It was very moist (dry usually means overcooked which doesn't take long with a cake) and it was a sweet cake. The citrus was noticeable but not overwhelming at all. The frosting was thin which made me a little nervous. The recipe wanted it frosted in the pan - informal like - which is not what I did. My cake was cold when I frosted it and the icing set right up when it hit the cold cake so it worked out well. The frosting was very chocolaty and not too sweet. I think this was a nice combo with the sweet cake. My wife liked the lemon too and even thought it might need more since it was hard to taste with the frosting. Overall I really enjoyed it and it is a recipe I would make again. Reading comments on food network and the other blogs I might be in the minority though.

Thanks to Susy of Everyday Gourmet for this recipe. She ended up making two separate double layer 9 inch cakes instead of the sheet cake. Check out her blog to see how she changed the second cake up a little. Looks yummy.

Birthday Sheet Cake
Makes 1 12x18 inch cake

For the cake:
  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting:
  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
  2. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.
  3. For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.
  4. Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cakes, cakes, cakes

Are you guys sick of cakes yet? I hope not because I'm not done with them yet. Today is the due date for Barefoot Bloggers but this is not my Barefoot Bloggers post. The Barefoot Blogger recipe is for a cake. And not for just any cake, it is for a half sheet cake. Well I actually have some stuff going on later this week where I could actually use a sheet cake so I am going to cheat a little and delay my post until then.

To hold you over until then here is another cake I recently made. My wife had a friend at work that recently got married and she wanted to have a party for them. I decided I could make the cake. There is a lot of pressure when you are making a cake from someone else and I was a little nervous about this one. For one thing my wife told me that Mohamed has a lot of friends so there would be somewhere between 50-100 people. Every site I found seems to have a different guideline to how much cake I needed for that many people. I decided to make a two layer half sheet which is my biggest cake yet. I was a little worried with how hard it would be to work with a cake of this size.

Mohamed and Gianna said they wanted a marble cake and the colors were purple and silver. I decided to do a cake similar to one in my fondant class that I liked. It used a lot of gum paste daisies ( 40 small, 12 medium, and 4 large). I spent a couple of hours over two nights making the daisies and playing with the design.

I have been making all scratch cakes but I decided for this one to use a mix to make at least part of this a little easier. Since I don't really make boxed cakes I wasn't prepared for how much it was going to rise. I filled the pan less than half full and it was over the top when it was done. I'll know better next time.

One thing I have never been successful at was using a real butter cream frosting. I decided this was the occasion to try again. I figured if it wasn't working out I could quickly make the "Wilton" butter cream recipe. It came out fantastic and wasn't too difficult to work with. It did get a little hard to work with when it started to get warm but I would just chill it for a little bit and it would be fine again. I can say it was definitely worth it. It was much better than the "Wilton" Crisco butter cream recipe. It melted in your mouth and tasted much better in my opinion.

The project was a big success. Everyone liked the cake and they liked the fabulous punch my wife made. I have to admit I liked the boxed cake better than the scratch cakes I have been making. I am very interested to see how the Barefoot Blogger cakes come out and see if they can beat the box for me. Stay tuned!