Thursday, 28 May 2009

Yank Bakes Mile High Devil's Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

So Sunday brought the first experiment in the kitchen for the all new weekly themed post Yank Bakes. This weeks Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake was brought to you by HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE.

The all important Recipe:

Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)Makes an 8-inch 3-layer cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch processed

1 ¼ cups hot water

3 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 2/3 cups cake flour*

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

9 ounces (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature

3 large eggs1

½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup cold water[*1 cup cake flour is equal to

¾ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans (We baked ours in 9-inch pans, and they almost overflowed. Make sure your 8-inch pans are tall!). Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature. (To speed this up, whisk the cocoa into ¾ cup hot water. Then add ½ cup cold water to cool it down.)In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low blend to combine. Add the butter and the dissolved cocoa. Then raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water until combined. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cakes tester inserted into the almost comes out clean. (Our 9-inch cakes were done at 25 minutes.) There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert and remove parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

5 egg whites

1¼ cups brown sugar

¼ cup water (We omitted this)

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (We reduced this to 2 ½ sticks)

(We made our buttercream using the Swiss meringue method-- Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture is fluffy and cool to the touch. Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium speed, add butter a few tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture becomes very thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.)Place all the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer; set aside.In a heavy medium saucepan combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then bring to a boil without stirring and cook until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.Begin beating the egg whites on medium low speed. Slowly pour in the syrup making sure not to hit the beater. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.With the mixer on med-low add 1-2 tablespoons of butter at a time. When all the butter has been added increase the mixer’s speed to medium and beat until the mixture looks curdled or separated. Continue to beat until the icing comes together again looking like soft smooth whipped butter.Assembling the cake:Place one layer flat side down and cover it with 2/3 cup of the frosting. (We used ½ cup frosting between each layer. We had just enough leftover to frost the top and sides.) Top with second layer and repeat process. Top with third layer and frost the sides of the cake.

So a few notes on how easy (or not) the recipe was to follow

I could not find non dutched cocoa for more information on the difference go here
I used normal cocoa and the world did not end and my cake tasted pretty darn good.

I could not find cake flour or corn starch so I just used plain old flour. I have since found corn starch so if I remake this recipe I will let you know if it works any better with the “cake flour”

I used 8inch pans and as my pans were not that tall I split the batch into four instead of 3. It gave the cake a cool look when sliced and I think it added to the mile high thing. Because I had an extra layer to sandwich I was much more conservative with the frosting on the sandwich layers and found I had more than enough for the tops and sides.

My four cakes took 23 mins except the one that seemed a little larger than the other 3 took 26 mins to cook

The Frosting: This caused more tears than the end of the sixth Harry Potter Book. I decided to follow the recipes directions not the notes by the woman whose blog I found this recipe on. The part about blending until the frosting looks curdled and comes back together again took about 20 mins, I don’t have a stand mixer so I stood holding my electric mixer for that 20 mins plus the 5-10 mins to get to this stage. Having made traditional Swiss merguine butter cream before that method is a whole lot simpler.

I also ran into a problem when I frosted the cake, filled all the layer great no problems but as I started to frost the tops and the sides the frosting split. I have had Swiss merguine butter cream split on me while making it but I have never had it split once it had come together. I am not sure what the issue was but I will not use the same recipe for frosting again and to be quite honest I did not feel that the brown sugar added enough to make it anymore special than good old butter cream. To save the cake I frosted it the best I could and then stuck in the fridge and about 20 mins later I pulled it out and smoothed it over as best I could and did this two or three times at about 20 min intervals as the butter cream hardened in the fridge.

Over all feelings: Damn this cake was good like really sickly good, like the only cake I have had in a long time that I knew there was no way I could go back for seconds right away because it was so rich. You only need a tiny sliver as well to be satisfied. So far the cake has served 12 pieces and I can probably get 4 more out of it so it would be ideal for large dinner parties.

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