Below you will find a seriously good, slightly unusual chocolate cake, and the best buttercream frosting I have been able to figure out how to make! It’s a little labor intensive, it’s easier to just grab a Betty Crocker box and take the short cut, but it’s SO much better to make your own! Normally I shy away from buttercream, but I figured out the perfect way to make it light and delicious without the grittiness I usually get!
I did steal this one, but made the adjustments that get the cake to be super silky and very dense. Check it out below and let me know what you think!
- 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- ½ cup corn oil
- 1 ¼ cups chilled water
- 6 oz chocolate, melted and at room temperature
- 18 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
You’ll need 3 mixing bowls for the cake, and a stand mixer or hand held mixer for the cake and icing. It’s a lot but it’s necessary, I found out the hard way!
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake tins, round or square are fine. In a medium sized bowl combine all the ingredients for the cake up to but not including the eggs. Use a fork to combine them and set aside. In a small bowl, or a measuring jug, combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract, combine well and set aside. (*quick note here, please, please use good extract, and not artificial essence. That will quickly lose it’s flavor. To make your own, 2 cups good vodka or bourbon in a Mason jar, and one vanilla pod, pushed down to cover with the alcohol. Let it stand for a few days, you’ll see the change in color almost immediately. Keep in a dry cool place and shake every few days. After about 2 weeks, you’ll have good extract. You can keep it forever, and feed it more alcohol as you use it up!)
In the third bowl, if you have a stand mixer, use that bowl, combine the vegetable oil and melted butter and beat them together like mad. When they look fairly amalgamated, add in the water and again beat like mad. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture. Mix until well combined, then add in the sour cream mixture. Don’t do it out of order, or skip a step and add all the dry ingredients to the wet, do the two additions of dry then the sour cream, that will make the cake dense and rich. If you short cut it, you’ll end up with a flat hard cake (my husband said it “hurt” his mouth to eat, but it was still delicious!) Stir all well to combine and divide up in to the two pans. Tap the filled pans on the counter lightly to release any air bubbles and put them in the oven. They will bake for 50 – 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once fully baked, cool the pans on a rack, and when fully cooled, either wrap well with plastic wrap and save until ready to frost, or just start frosting them. It’s critical they are completely cooled.
For the frosting, you’ll have to do a little forward planning. Critical step number one is to allow the butter to come fully to room temperature well in advance. I usually take it out of the fridge the night before I make it and let them wrapped sticks sit overnight and most of the following day. When you’re ready to make the frosting, plop the butter into the mixing bowl and beat it like mad, for longer than you even think necessary. Once it’s pretty light and looks whipped, start adding in the confectioners sugar one big spoonful at a time. This is going to take a while. Critical step number 2, once the sugar is fully incorporated, once again, beat like mad. In doing so, you’re not only adding air, you’re also allowing the sugar to dissolve more in the liquid in the butter. It’s not going to curdle, the sugar also acts as a stabilizer, so beat away. At this stage, I let it sit for a good 20 minutes, beat it again, then add in the vanilla, and then the completely cooled chocolate. And one more time beat like mad. Stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl and beater, as you beat it, the color will be come lighter, and the texture will be very fluffy. Once you’re sure it’s all combined, time to frost!
Find the plate or cake stand you’ll be serving on, and set the cake on strips of wax or parchment paper, like so with the rounded top side down (borrowed from the Betty Crocker site):
Dab a tiny bit of the frosting under the cake on the plate to hold it in place. Use about 1/3 of the frosting on the top of the cake, and leave a 1/4 inch border around the edge, for expansion when you put the second layer down. Next layer should be humped side up. Use the rest of the frosting to ice the remaining cake, including the sides, and once you’re done, remove the paper strips, and you’ll have a clean presentation!
Of course, you can change up all the flavors of the cake by changing the vanilla extract to something else, and also replacing the water in the cake with a fruit juice, or a liqueur. If you do, just watch the baking time and test slightly earlier than 50 minutes.
Happy New Year all! Go forth and bake!!