All-American Chocolate Butter Cake
Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (2.25 ounces) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (8.25 ounces) boiling water
- 3 whole eggs (5.25 ounces)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (8.25 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
Whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth, and cool to room temperature. In another bowl, combine the eggs, ¼ of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment to blend. Add the butter and the remaining cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until the ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium to medium-high speed and beat for 1 ½ minutes to aerate. Scrape down the sides and gradually add the egg mixture.
Pour into two prepared 9” cake pans (lined with parchment paper, buttered and floured) and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks in the pans for 10 minutes then release onto wire racks. Store tightly wrapped with plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days, 5 days refrigerated, or 2 months frozen.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
From Style Sweet California
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) egg whites (from about 3 to 4 large eggs)
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks – 340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (optional)
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Whisk them together briefly by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.
Create a double-boiler: Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture.
Heat the egg white mixture: Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved.
Make the meringue: Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes. When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
Add the butter: With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Use the paddle attachment to mix it in. The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.
Add the vanilla: Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla bean seeds (if using) and the vanilla extract.
Mix until smooth: Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth. This may take a few minutes, but centime to mix until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.
Note: Yields approximately 3 1/2 cups - enough to nicely frost an 8-inch double layer cake, but without any leftover for decorating with.