I could not explain to anyone right now how excited I am to be doing a blog post. For a month and a half now, life keeps getting in the way of creating fun desserts, so I was so fortunate to have an excuse to make this cake! So many great things have happened in these past two months. Christmas came and gone, as it always does, Kyle and my parents completed their half marathon (unfortunately I got a knee sprain two weeks before and couldn't run with them), me and Kyle have set a date in late April to be moving to the west side of Phoenix, which will be closer to my parents, and my mom's three year anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor, which brings me to this delicious cake.
Three years ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, which led to a double mastectomy, chemo treatments and radiation. To say how fortunate we are to have her still here with us today is an understatement. She is the definition of a fighter and is doing so amazing in her recovery from cancer. If you met her now, you would never know the pain or fear she and our family had to experience and that is why every year on January 27, we get together and celebrate life. We celebrate God's amazing grace which has kept her here with us and we admire His amazing plan for our lives which we never see coming and never realize the reason behind it until after we have recovered from the trials he leads us through. Her having cancer has taught us all the value of life and the value of family. This year we celebrated with a delicious salad, gourmet cheese, outstanding wine, and incredible family. And to think that when my sister Kayla comes into town at the end of February, we get to celebrate all over again with the whole family is just oh so exciting!
This cake has brought on a lot of inspiration for me. What I would love to do one day is bless others with the desserts I make. I would love to cater anything from weddings to house parties! However, with that comes beautiful desserts that are flawless, and with that comes lots and lots of practice. My amazing husband is constantly telling me to make a cake, or make danish pastries, or to challenge myself in some way that will better me for the future that I want to take in baking. And this cake was definitely practice. I found a new buttercream recipe that I absolutely love and a new chocolate cake recipe that is divine! So from here on out I want to make things that will not only be a resume for my baking in the future but will give the practice and challenge that I need to become a better baker and creator. So with that, I am going to be trying some new, fun gluten free and vegan desserts to spice things up :)
*both recipes adapted from the Miette bakery cookbook
yields two 6-inch cakes
for the cake:
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (4 1/2 ounces) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces 70% cacao chocolate. coarsely chopped (you can also use 70% bittersweet chocolate)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups (15 ounces) sugar
Butter two 6-by-3 inch cake pans, and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out excess cocoa.
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Whisk until the chocolate is melted. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the oil, whisking until combined. Raise the speed to high and whisk until fully incorporated.
Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and vanilla mixture. Add the sugar and whisk until the batter is smooth and liquid, about 2 minutes.
Stop the mixture. Remove the bowl and slowly add in the sifted dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated, preferably by hand, lifting and folding in the bottom center. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again just barely by hand. The batter will look lumpy but stop mixing.
Pour the batter through a medium-mesh sieve into a larger bowl to remove any lumps. Press agains the solids in the sieve with a rubber spatula to push through as much batter as possible, then discard of the lumps. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Transfer to wire racks and let the cake cool in the pans for 20 minutes. When the cakes are still warm, but cool enough to handle, carefully run an offset spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen them, then invert the cakes onto the rack and remove the pans. Let cool for another 20 minutes. Wrap the cakes tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate to ensure that the interiors are completely cooled before decorating, at least 1 hour or for up to 3 days. You can also freeze for up to 2 months, just wrap in a second layer of plastic.
for the raspberry buttercream:
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup water
5 large egg whites (178 grams), at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 cups (1 1/2 pound or 6 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup raspberry juice (recipe below)
In a small saucepan over medium hear, combine the sugar and water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook the mixture until it reaches 248 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a constant eye on it.
Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees F, whisk the egg whites on medium-low speed until soft peaks form.
When the sugar syrup reached 248 degrees F, reduce the speed to low and very carefully drizzle the syrup into the mixer bowl, away from the whisk so the hot syrup doesn't splatter. Be careful, because the syrup is hot. When you have added all the syrup, raise the speed to high and beat until the mixer is cool to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes. You need it cool to the touch so the butter does not melt when you add it.
Once it is cool begin adding the butter. Reduce the speed to medium, and with the mixer running, drop in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. If the mixture deflates or looks curdled, do not panic, raise the speed to high and continue to add the tablespoon size pieces of butter. When all of the butter has been added the frosting should be smooth and thick. If it is not continue whipping for a few seconds longer. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. (If you are making raspberry buttercream, this would be the time to add it as well. Mix until combined.)
Use the buttercream immediately, or cover and refrigerate until needed. Store in a zippered bag for up to 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer. (To thaw, leave in the refrigerator overnight, not the counter) To use the buttercream, that has been chilled, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour, or microwave in 15 second intervals, mixing in between each time until soft. If it gets to runny, refrigerate for 15 minutes and try then. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until soft and spreadable, about 2 to 3 minutes.
for the raspberry juice:
4 cups fresh raspberries
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
In a saucepan over medium low heat, combine all ingredients. Cook, gently stirring the berries to help break them down, until the berries are liquified, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain into a heatproof bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool to room temperature before adding to buttercream.
how to assemble:
Set cake top-side up on a stand. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into three equal layers. You do not need to level the top of the cake. Arrange all three cake layers on the work surface. Using your hands, brush away excess crumbs.
Turn the original bottom layer, flat-dark-side down; reserve this to be the bottom layer of the assembled cake. Brush any crumbs off the work surface.
Place the reserved bottom piece of the cake on the cake stand. Fit a pastry bag with a medium (1/2 inch) star tip and fill about half way with the buttercream. Twist it to seal and tighten the frosting down into the cone. Purge the bad of air bubbles by squeezing the bag until there is a burst of air and frosting sputters out of the bag. Keep the bag tightly twisted so that the frosting doesn't come back up onto your hands. Holding the bad at a 90-degree angle, pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the cake, keeping an 1/8 inch border at the very edge. Starting at the inner edge of the border, spiral inward filling in the center ring to make an even layer of buttercream. Using an offset spatula on the inside ring of frosting, with the spatula centered on the cake, smooth the inside of the ring, leaving the upped edges untouched.
Double check the second layer for cubs, then place it on top of the buttercream layer. He sure not to press to hard. Repeat with a layer of buttercream, as you did with the first layer. Double check the third layer for crumbs, and place on buttercream layer. Pipe a ring of buttercream just as you did before, but for the inner spiral of buttercream add just a little more frosting. Smooth the center as you did for the other two layers.
The cake needs to be served at room temperature so the buttercream is silky and smooth. Serve at once or leave at rom temperature for up to 4 hours. If you are storing for longer, refrigerate for up to three days and remove from the refrigerator 4 hours before serving.