It’s not often that an indulgent mom is stopped in her tracks by a turn-around in the dietary preferences of her soon-to-be 8-year old. Beset by a single-minded tyke-like devotion to glutenous ramen noodles and determined rebuffs of ‘weird’ vegetables, she has all but given up trying anything new in the kitchen. So, when a day dawns that a chocolate cake is airily requested of her, she puts on her poker face and with nary a fuss about the little miss’s long and violent past aversion to it, gets to work.
Quaffing a guffaw, she counters with a recipe that uses all the regular cakey ingredients, but in an unexpected sequence. In lieu of the conventional creaming of butter and sugar, there is sanding of flour with the fats. Drilled-in sermons about not activating the gluten in the batter are overlooked, as the flour is the first to plop into the mixing bowl. Yet, an intensely chocolatey cake with a crochet-like crumb and a moist, melt-in-your-mouth texture emerges from the oven, shadowed by watchful eyes while it is cooled, filled and frosted. Stray crumbs and crusts are snatched up as mom turns her back and remnants of colorful icing licked clean once the cake is suitably decorated for a precious milestone.
Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and Vanilla Butter-cream
½ Cup water
1 Teaspoon instant coffee powder/granules
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Cup milk
Dry Ingredients –
- 2¼ Cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ Teaspoons baking powder
- ½ Teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ Teaspoon salt
- ¾ Cup cocoa powder
- 2 Cups sugar
½ Cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup Oil – neutral flavored oil like canola or vegetable
4 Eggs, at room temperature
Raspberry filling (Recipe follows)
Basic vanilla butter-cream (Recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line the bottom of 2 round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick baking spray, or grease and flour well. Warm the water and dissolve the coffee in it. Pour in the vanilla and milk and set this aside.
Measure all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and sugar) into a large bowl and stir well with a fork, or sift them together. Cut the butter into a few pieces and scoop it into the bowl. Using an electric beater, mix the butter into the flour and then pour in the oil. Continue to beat until the oil and butter coat the flour.
Pour in the liquids that were set aside earlier and beat for about a minute. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, beating them in and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Once the batter is ready, scrape equal amounts into the prepared pans. Lightly thump the pans on the counter a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted in the centers emerges clean. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes before carefully turning out on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before filling and decorating.
Putting it all together
Trim the domes of the two cakes with a long serrated-edged bread knife to get level surfaces. Place one cake layer on the cake stand or serving platter with the leveled side up. Put half a cup of the frosting in a piping bag without a tip (or use a zip-top bag with about ¼” of the tip cut open). Pipe a thick rope of frosting just inside the outer circumference of the cake. This will prevent the filling from leaking out because of the weight of the top layer. Spread out the raspberry filling inside the dam created by your frosting rope.
Place the other cake layer on top, with the cut side down and then cover the entire cake with the vanilla butter-cream. Smooth the surface and sides using a flat spatula, or pattern the sides with a fork. Decorate the cake with whatever suits your fancy – sprinkles and candy are easy and colorful, chocolate shavings and whole raspberries would look luscious. Or, pipe on some swirly borders, add a special touch or two, and you’ve got a spectacular cake, perfect for newly blossoming taste-buds, or even the jaded palates abound.
Raspberry filling (Can be made a day ahead)
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed or use in-season fresh ones
1/4 to 1/3 Cup sugar, based on the sweetness of the berries
2 Teaspoons cornstarch/cornflour
Dissolve the cornstarch in a couple of tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Lightly puree the thawed berries along with any juices in a blender adding a little water if needed, to get the blades going. Strain to remove the seeds by coaxing it through a sieve with the back of a sturdy spoon. Bring the puree to a gentle boil in a small saucepan, add the sugar and let it dissolve. Finally pour in the cornstarch slurry. Once the mixture thickens, take it off the heat and allow to cool.
Basic Vanilla Buttercream (Can be made ahead – see Notes)
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Cups confectioners/icing sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
3-4 Tablespoons milk, or cream
Place the butter in a high-sided mixing bowl and cream it with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, salt, 3 tablespoons of the milk/cream and whip until fluffy and light, scraping the bowl often with a silicone spatula. Adjust the consistency of the frosting by adding more liquid if required, until it is easily spreadable .
- This frosting can be made ahead and kept refrigerated in a closed container for a day or two. Let it sit out for a while, and whip with an electric beater to restore its light texture before using.
- You could even freeze the frosting, tightly wrapped, for about a month. Allow it to thaw in the fridge, then soften at room temperature and beat it with an electric mixer before icing your cake.
- Since the frosting contains dairy, it is advisable to keep the cake refrigerated, once it is frosted.
- Avoid the formation of a crust on the surface by keeping the unused icing covered with plastic wrap.
- This recipe makes just enough frosting to cover the top and sides of a 8-10″ round, stacked-layer cake. If you would like more to pipe over your cake or even, add a layer of frosting under the raspberry filling, go ahead and double the recipe.
Chocolate Cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/chocolate-cake-recipe