Please pardon the screaming blue background! I always carry my cakes in my tupperware covered cake carrier which happens to be a bright blue that goes well with… um nothing! Maybe a carrot cake. But anyway, this week in my psychology class we discussed and read about Eastern psychology and meditation. Some of it is similar to Judeo-Christian philosophy (Buddhism and Hinduism) and some of it (Taoism)… not so much. But the main point is to bring mindfulness to the present. Zen Master Thich Naht Hanh states in one interview, “What is it we’re so busy with, exactly?” I thought this was a great question to ponder.
Back to the recipe: My super awesome cousin asked me to make a princess birthday cake for her daughter’s party. In addition, I had to make another cake that was egg-free for her brother. (That recipe will come later.) My go-to super moist chocolate recipe is so deliciously moist that I was afraid it would not hold up to being stacked into three layers. So, here is a go-to easy recipe for a chocolate layer cake. I love doing chocolate cakes – so simple, so delicious, so moist and they only use up ONE bowl. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. I know Dutch cocoa is difficult to find, but I have had great success replacing this with Hershey’s Dark Cocoa which contains natural and Dutch cocoas. I purchased some special Double Dutch Dark Cocoa from King Arthur Flour since so many recipes I have call for it and I wanted to try it.
*Normally, 5 ounces of flour is used to equal 1 cup. However, KAF differs from this calculation and I use their weight measurement instead since they developed the recipe.
Chocolate Layer Cake
yield 16 servings
2 cups (14 oz.) sugar
2 cups (8.5 oz) AP flour*
2 Tb. cornstarch
3/4 cup (2.25 oz.) Double Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. espresso powder (or omit for children)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 large eggs (or 3 X-large eggs)
3/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cup (10 oz) water, or coffee, or milk (I used water, normally I use coffee when it isn’t a kid recipient)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You need two 8″x2″ round pans. You could use shorter 9″ pans . Or split the batter between 3 – 8″ round pans like I did since mine were not 2″ tall. I weighed the total batter and divided by 3. I used parchment on the bottom and sprayed with Baker’s Joy. Many people also grease with shortening and dust it with cocoa powder.
2. In a great big bowl: Whisk sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt together.
3. Add the eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix it all up. It’ll be a little thick. It’s okay. Add the water (or coffee, etc.) little by little and mix it all up until smooth. Pour and bake 35-38 minutes for 2 – 8″ pans. I used 3 short 8″ pans and it took 23 minutes to bake.
4. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn it upside down and continue to cool. Now, if the edges are a little crusty, here is how to fix it: you can cut them off (but then you get crumbs!) OR wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. Do just before they get completely cool and your edges will be soft again. This may or may not be problem for you.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Buttercream Frosting – this is my standard go-to frosting. For large layer cakes like one with more than 2 layers plus decorations, I will increase the yield. So, for this 3 layer cake I made this recipe using 3 sticks, 5.25 cups sugar, 3 tsp. vanilla, 3-4T milk. You will find many buttercream recipes that use twice as much sugar – I think personally that is too sweet and this is a great balance. But please taste test before decorating! Using toothpicks is great for this. My kids love to be my testers! 🙂
2 sticks of butter (8 oz.), softened
3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar – SIFT to make it look pretty
dash of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tb. milk
1. Beat butter until smooth. Gradually, add the powdered sugar. Beat until incorporated.
2. Add salt, vanilla and 1 Tb. milk. Beat and add milk until you get the desired consistency. It it really dry here now in St. Louis, so my frosting this week took the full 2 Tb.
There is only one cake I like to decorate: using one color and one tip. I don’t have the patience, time or supplies to do 10 different colors. I tried to do an ombre cake once and it just stresses me out. I like this cake decorating method a LOT. Now, most people use a Wilton tip#12. I only own a #9 and I think I will go out and buy the 12 now that I know this is easy to do and worthwhile. Do yourself a favor and spend the 99 cents on the tip! 🙂
1. Level your cake if necessary. This cake recipe was awesome and I had no dome problems.
2. Fill the layers with your filling or frosting.
3. Crumb coat the cake: layer the cake with the frosting with a thin coat of frosting. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. If you want your cake super pretty: Add another thin coat if the cake underneath is still showing. Put in the fridge for another 30 minutes to set. This will insure that the cake does not show through the petals.
5. For the side: Take your frosting and put it in the decorator’s bag with tip#12 attached. Start down the side and then take your offset spatula and smear the dot to the right. I guess you could go left if you are left handed…. I practiced on foil first.
6. To end: it is difficult to end and do the last row. I just do the best I can and make note that it is the “back” of the cake. Most people will never notice.
7. For the top: I took a ruler and put a dot with a toothpick where the middle is. Then I put a dot in the center of the top of the cake. Don’t touch the dot. From here, you can spiral out more petals from the middle. This will take more time. OR, you can just do rows starting from the middle and working your way around just like you did on the side.
I think this would be really pretty on cupcakes, too.