Wednesday, June 2, 2010

And today, you get:

Cake. Who doesn’t like cake? This one has borderline unreasonable amounts of chocolate ganache, which if you're looking in my book, makes for a good dessert. And anyway, who likes reasonable cakes? Reasonable cakes, it seems to me, are a paradoxical thing, much like nourishing celery or salty sugar or milk powder.

Onward, then, with our unreasonable cake-making. (My original intention was for this to be read with one arm gallantly raised in the air, William Wallace style. While riding a Scottish draft horse and with your face pained white and blue, if you really wanted to make the sell. I realize, though, that some of you may be much less prone than I am to corny movie references spun around for the purposes of baking. I will forgive you for keeping your arm down.)

Anyway, see? I am not abandoning you. I’m bringing you chocolate cake. Unapologetically rich, intense, chocolate cake. Which is the best kind. Now, go! Bake! Bake!

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

18 oz bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided
fresh raspberries to garnish
Powdered sugar to garnish

For cake:
Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch cake pans nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl until combined, and then pour this into the well you've made in the dry ingredients. Whisk just until blended. Divide cake batter between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

For chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Once it has almost reached a boil, pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups of your ganache to a small bowl, and cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread. (It will take about 1 hour.) Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top. Spoon chilled ganache over, then spread evenly.

Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of the barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. (The freezing and removing will get a bit annoying, but it is worth it: you need the ganache to set so you'll end up with a smooth outer layer.)

Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. The cake can be moved to the fridge if you aren't ready for it, and brought back down to room temperature before serving. Arrange your raspberries on the top before you serve as well.

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