Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

In my kingdom, Ina Garten isn't just a Barefoot Contessa, she's the Queen of Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos!

For the second time in a mere ten days, I've baked her Double-Chocolate Layer Cake, with chocolate butter cream icing, no doubt. I do love to bake, but this cake has turned out flawless, both times. And it's not nearly as difficult as trying to walk in stilettos (which I try not to do, especially in the kitchen or the garden.) No matter how well a recipe reads, I'm always very skeptical of having enough frosting because I have to fend off 30 little and 10 larger fingers that live in my house and try to sneak a taste when my head is turned.

(Non sequitor Moment of Humor -- Q: "Mom, do you eat cake with your fingers?" A: "No, I like to eat my fingers separately.")

Many times I have scrambled to find something to fill in the gaps between the bottom of the cake and its plate to hide bare spots. (Pansies and wild violets make a nice filler this time of year.) Oh, this recipe offers plenty for "sampling" and a generous frosting of the cake too!

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

from foodandwine.com, recipe by Ina Garten


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk (substitute 1 cup milk, 1 Tablespoon white vinegar)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed coffee (substitute 1 cup very hot water)

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules (substitute 2 teaspoons very hot water)


Make the cake.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper, butter the paper. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. In a bowl, use an electric mixer (preferably with a paddle) to mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In another medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, the slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cook in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

Make the frosting.

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until the most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. In a bowl using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and cooked chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
3. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Make ahead: The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

Note: Not only is there no way on earth I'd give extra caffeine to my kids, but in my immediate family, only my daughter and I like coffee or any hint o'coffee flavor or the smell of coffee brewing or even know how to spell coffee, so the substitutes above are my own (well, actually my friend Renee's) modifications.


  1. Sounds fantastic. A lucky crew there, no doubt!

  2. Yummy! and can I melt the chocolate in a double boiler? We threw out our microwave 2 years ago and have had to find alternate methods for things...

  3. Of course you can use a double boiler! Just make sure you don't "cook" the chocolate, and that it returns to room temperature before you incorporate it into the frosting.

  4. Ok! Maybe for Austin first Communion this weekend...it sounds so goo and chocolate is his fav!