Photo: Macrina BakeryIt's the most wonderful time of the month, a week in, when the rent has already been paid and we all receive Macrina Bakery's recipe of the month in our inbox. Le nom!
This month, they've featured "Mom's Chocolate Cake", which is introduced thusly: "This dessert is named in honor of those homemade chocolate cakes that moms are famous for. I like to apply the frosting in big swirls."
Here's how to make it happen at home.
Mom's Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) layer cake
For the cake:
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup boiling water
For the vanilla syrup:
1/4 cup pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
For the chocolate frosting:
12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
PREPARING THE CAKE LAYERS:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9 x 3-inch cake pans by brushing the inside with oil, then lining the bottom with a 9-inch circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine eggs, milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and mix well with a whisk. Set aside.
Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Toss with your hands to combine. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Using the whisk attachment, mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Keep mixing as you add the boiling water in a slow stream, mixing just until the water is incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for 35 to 50 minutes or until cake is set in the center. Test center with a skewer to make sure the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
PREPARING THE VANILLA SYRUP:
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar is dissolved and the liquid is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
PREPARING THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING:
Place chocolate in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water. It’s important that the water be just simmering; if it’s too hot it will scorch the chocolate. Stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until all of the pieces have melted and reached a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 5 to 8 minutes to cream the butter. Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium. Starting out on a higher speed will likely result in a snow storm of powdered sugar, a real mess. When the butter mixture is light and fluffy, add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and continue mixing a few more minutes until the frosting is thick enough to spread. If the frosting gets too soft, simply chill it in the refrigerator to firm it up. If it stays in the refrigerator for too long, let it sit out for a few minutes and then re-whip it.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE
Invert the cooled cake to remove it from the pan. If it sticks, run asharp knife around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake. Using a sharp bread knife, carefully cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or cardboard cake circle and brush it with a little vanilla syrup. Spread a generous amount of chocolate frosting (about 1/4 inch) over the cake. Top it with another layer of cake and repeat the process. Add the final cake layer. Place a dollop of frosting on top of the cake and spread it 1/8 inch thick, spreading any excess frosting down onto the sides. Spread a little more frosting on the sides until the entire cake has what bakers call a crumb coat: a thin underlayer of frosting that keeps crumbs out of the final layer of frosting. Crumbs will be clearly visible through the frosting. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. The remaining frosting can stay at room temperature while the cake chills.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and add the final layer of frosting. I like to create a swirl pattern in the frosting, just like the cakes I remember from childhood. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. This cake is best served at room temperature, so remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.