Sometimes, only a chocolate cake will do. One with multiple layers, ganache frosting, loads of delicious butterfat, and sour cream in the mix if you’re lucky or tend to choose your chocolate cake recipes based on the inclusion of sour cream, as I do.
It’s a doddle to put together, as it’s original loaf form might tip you off to. Just be sure to ice artfully, of course. And top it with all manner of “dressy” choco-bits, like milk chocolate curls and cacao nibs. I drew the line at those little silver baubles, but I was feeling only mildly flamboyant that day.
Anyway, the taste is rich and lush, and a hair on the dry side, but nothing that a syrup soak might not fix, or using half oil and half butter (perhaps). Or, maybe just loads more jam than the recipe calls for. And my cherry preserves are bar none, so more of that stuff can only be a good thing. (*Liz proceeds to dream of eating the rest of her strawberry-basil-habanero preserves, like, right off a spoon so that they don’t go bad before her Halifax trip*)
Now, off to go brine some chicken and make pesto from the garden. And some peanut sauce. And maybe blueberry bars. Ya ya. ^_^
Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: a 9 1/2 x 5-inch loaf cake, or two 8-inch cakes
For the Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup best-quality red raspberry or cherry jam-for filling
- 1 teaspoon water
- 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans, dust the inside with cocoa powder and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on the top of one another.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each one goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream. Still working on a low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix only until they disappear into the batter, Give the batter a last stir with a sturdy rubber spatula and scrape the batter into the pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If, after about 20 minutes, the cakes looks as if they’re browning too quickly, cover them loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the pans to a cooling rack and let the cakes rest for about 5 minutes before turning them out on the to rack. Cool to room temperature upside down.
Bring the jam and water to a boil over low heat or in a microwave oven. Stir to smooth it, and keep at hand.
Slice off the very tops of the cakes with a serrated knife if they are very uneven. Then cut each cake into 2 even layers (making 4 layers total). Put the first layer (originally the top of the cake) cut side up on a serving plate and spread 1/3 of the jam on it. Top with another layer and another 1/3 of the jam. Repeat. Lift the top layer into place, cut side down. Use a small pastry brush to chase away any crumbs on the top or sides of the cake.
To Make The Frosting: Fit a heatproof bowl into a pan of gently simmering water, add the chocolate and warm, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. Still working over the hot water, stir in the sour cream. Don’t be concerned if the cream tightens-just keep stirring gently and the frosting will become smooth and glossy.
Remove from the heat and cover the sides and top of the cake with the still warm frosting.
Dorie says its ready to serve as soon as it is frosted, but likes to wait about an hour, until the frosting develops the slightest little crust; the frosting underneath the crust will still be soft and velvety. Serve with a bit of whipped cream and if you’d like a pitcher of the Smooth & Tangy Chocolate Sauce.
Playing Around If you want to serve the cake with a sauce that is perfectly matched to it, double the frosting recipe and use half for the frosting and the other half to make a sauce.