Saturday, October 8, 2011

My First Ever Layer Cake

So I successfully made a chocolate layer cake a few days ago! I did this purely out of stress.  I like to bake when I’m stressed.  So I spent four hours baking and making my kitchen look horrendous and my cake look pretty.  I posted a picture of it already on facebook, so most of you have probably seen it, but here’s the final product:

I brought this along to our weekly family gathering for dessert.  And of course I had to warn everyone that it was my first time making a layer cake and it didn’t turn out quite how I expected, so I wasn’t sure how good it would taste.  Well, of course we all forgot about the cake when we sat down to a table so full with my mom’s delicious dinner that we literally couldn’t even fit all of it on there along with our dinner plates.  She is the most amazing cook.  So all of us were very full when it came time for dessert.  But everyone thought they might have room for a little sliver of my cake.  As we were finishing up our last bites of ham and roast and mashed potatoes and salad and biscuits and fruit salad (and I’m sure there were other things, too, that I’m forgetting), Jessie asked me, “so what’s in this cake??”

“Okay,” I said resolutely, “Let me tell you the story.”  At this point you could see everyone around the table brace themselves in resignation.  They all know me well enough to know how my stories often happen to be epic retellings that never seem to end and tend to spiral off into completely different topics in a never-ending sort of way.  Well, this is what I had to say about baking my cake and why I was pretty sure it hadn’t turned out exactly like it was supposed to.

I’d searched allrecipes for the best chocolate cake and came up with this Too Much Chocolate Cake.  That looked really good to me.  But I didn’t have the bundt pan it called for so I decided to make it into two 9 inch pans and do a layer cake instead.  And it called for one 18.25 ounce package of Devil’s Food Cake mix, but I didn’t have that.  I did have some sort or another of a triple chocolate cake mix, so I used that instead.  However, it was only 14.something ounces so I decided to cut back on all the other ingredients just a bit as well.  Instead of one cup of sour cream and vegetable oil I did just slightly more than ¾ cup.  And I didn’t really measure the warm water.  It called for half a cup, but I probably put in about half that amount cause it seemed like it would be too runny otherwise.  Well then it called for a package of instant chocolate pudding.  But I didn’t have chocolate pudding.  So I put in a package of instant vanilla pudding instead and added a huge heaping tablespoon of cocoa power.  And then it called for two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  But I didn’t have two cups.  I had about ¼ cup, so I put that in and then I just dumped in the rest of a bag of dark chocolate chips that I had laying around instead (they’re practically the same thing right??).  And then it called for four eggs, but I didn’t have four eggs (yeah, yeah, I don’t have anything – I haven’t been to the store in a while).  So I put in three eggs instead.  So, my cake batter ready(ish), I filled my cake pans and popped those in the oven.  It called for them to be in there at 350 degrees for 50-55 mins! (what?) that seemed like a really long time to me… But I set the timer for that anyway (after ten or fifteen minutes… I forgot right away… oops.)  But then like 35 minutes (I think) into baking it seemed like they were done - actually getting a little overdone - the edges were starting to shrink away from the pan and get a little hard and my tooth pick came out completely clean, so I pulled those babies out and let them cool.

Anyway, in the mean time, I decided to start my icing.  I’ve been really hungry for cherries lately, but I didn’t want to ice my entire cake in cherry frosting.  So I decided to do that between the layers and then do chocolate on top and around the sides! Yum!!  Well it turns out that it is extremely hard to find a good cherry frosting recipe.  I looked forever!  I didn’t really want a buttercream or creamcheese one because I didn’t feel like that was in keeping with the cake.  So finally I ended up with this recipe.

Well that was all well and great, except I didn’t have frozen cherries or fresh cherries.  What I did have was cherry pie filling.  So I just picked out the cherries in that and scrapped all the gooey stuff off and put them in my food chopper (I don’t have a food processer) and chopped them up until they were nice and pureed.  Oh, and I didn’t have unsalted butter so I just used salted sweetcream butter and omitted the pinch of salt.  Mmmm.  Usually icings for me turn out awful, but this was really good and light and fluffy with just the right amount of cherry flavor.  It was supposed to be "the texture of icecream" but I'm glad it didn't turn out that thick.

Then I choose this Creamy Chocolate Frosting, WHICH I DIDN’T CHANGE AT ALL!! (I know. It’s a miracle!)

And I must say, I didn’t realize how much I’d deviated from the recipes until I was sitting there telling everyone (who were all in tears, by the way, laughing so hard at my interesting choices in substitutions).  No one had much hope after that of it actually tasting any good, but for all those changes, it actually turned out quite yummy!  I think everyone was pretty suprised.  Maybe not the best cake in the history of cakes, but definitely a great first-time success!!

So, here are the recipes (and my changes, too, if you're crazy enough to want them!):

Too Much Chocolate Cake

  • One (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix (14 ounce package of whatever chocolate cake you have)
  • One (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate (vanilla) pudding mix (+ a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder)
  • One (slightly more than ¾) cup sour cream
  • One (slightly more than ¾) cup vegetable oil
  • Four (three) eggs
  • ½  (¼) cup warm water
  • 2 (¼) cups semisweet chocolate chips (+ some random number of dark chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan (2 slightly greased 9-inch cake pans).
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 (35-45) minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate if desired (on cooling rack for however long it takes) and, dust the cake with powdered sugar (make a ridiculous amount of frosting to cover - recipes below).  

Cherry Frosting

  • ½ cup frozen whole cherries, thawed (cherry pie filling, gooeyness removed) 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 ½ cup confectioners sugar, (sifted)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Place cherries in the bowl of a food processor (chopper) and process until pureed
  2. Use an electric mixer to beat butter and salt until light and fluffy. 
  3. Slowly add confectioners sugar and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and cherry puree, mix until just blended. Frosting consistency should be dense and cr eamy, like ice cream. (fluffy).

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

Yay for cake!! :)