I’m a loyal person. Once I find a recipe (or person, place or thing!) I really like, it’s rare that I stray from it. This is the chocolate cake to which I have devoted myself. I served it up to my colleagues in December and received nothing but compliments and praise. The original recipe calls for a ganache icing, but I prefer a simple buttercream.
For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
Preparing your cake:
I trim the top of my cakes to make them level and because these cake trimmings are so good to nibble on – yum! You can use a proper cake leveler or you can just use a good, sharp knife and a steady hand.
With your spatula, take a small dab of frosting and put it in the middle of your cake board. Next, take one leveled cake and place it bottom-side down on the cake board. The frosting is there to keep your cake from sliding.
Now spoon a few scoops of frosting onto the center of the cake and smooth it out so the entire top is covered. Be careful to not get cake crumbs in your frosting as you work. Dipping your spreading tool into a bit of water now and again can make this process easier. In regards to spreading without crumbs, practice makes perfect. It’s not easy.
Once that layer is covered, take your next leveled cake and place it top-side down onto the frosted half. The bottom is now the top and you should have a perfectly level cake top to frost.
Again, scoop a bunch of icing into the center of the cake and begin spreading outwards being careful to not get chocolate crumbs in your white buttercream icing. Take your time! Now cover the sides with frosting…carefully!