Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Second Attempt: Chocolate Cake

Lets start off with the most successful part: the frosting. The frosting was easy! I think I could make frosting like this all day long if I really had to. Here it goes:

Quick Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter (I used one stick salted & one unsalted - and it turned out fine... both at room temperature.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

At one point I had heard/read a tip about sifting things to make them fluffier, so I tried doing that with the powdered sugar - but that didn't last long, I thought my arm was going to fall off. So with half the sugar sifted - I put the sugar and butter in the mixer with the wire whip attachment, started off slow and went up to about speed 4 for a few minutes. At first it just looked like my butter was globbing up with the sugar, but I just had to adjust the level of the wire whip attachment (to properly mix the ingredients from the bottom of the bowl). Soon after adjusting my mixer, it looked like frosting (as seen above)! I started adding the vanilla and used about 1.5 tablespoons of whipping cream. I think it came out really good!

Okay, now for the more interesting part: the chocolate cake. I used this recipe I found online for "Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake."

1 cup butter (I read somewhere you should only use unsalted - so that's what I did.)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten (I had forgotten to beat them...)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour (I read somewhere you should use cake flour because it's finer, so I did that instead)
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

I melted the butter, water and cocoa powder together on the stovetop - then put it aside to cool off. In another mixing bowl I put the buttermilk & baking soda together, then added the 2 eggs and vanilla. I then mixed the buttermilk concoction and the cocoa liquid together. In yet another bowl(!) I sifted the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together, created a well in the mix, and put the buttermilk - cocoa liquid in the well and mixed well. For some reason I decided to not use my awesome electric mixer... which I will end up finding out was a mistake.

I baked two nine inch circles in 350F for almost 30 minutes each. The first cake was completely unbalanced and had a crunchy crust (crispness shown in picture above the right side of the cake), so I used a cake leveler and cut off the crust before frosting it. The second cake was much more level, but still a little off kilter. So, instead of using the leveler, I instead used a damp cloth to press down the middle part that was poofing up! I don't think I pressed hard enough, but I think it's a pretty good method. The second cake had a crunchy crust as well, but I didn't know that until I had starting frosting it (or else I would have cut it off too!). The cakes look like they have uneven texture - something I'm thinking could have been prevented by using my super mixer.

I put an "X" on the cake that I thought would turn out worse. It's the first cake, the one with the crispy crust that I had cut off, but honestly I think it tastes better. Here is the second cake that I leveled by hand with a wet cloth:

I'm not exactly sure why I got a crispy crust, but I think it has something to do with 1) amount of batter in the pan 2) hotness of the oven 3) sugar 4) baking time?

I'll try again tomorrow!

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