Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wedding Cake Testing

Let's eat cake! Lots of it...
I have made three cakes in the span of a week and it was awesome… if I could bake cakes forever, I would be the happiest girl on Earth! The reason behind all this cake baking frenzy is because DFJ and I want to make our own wedding cake. Well, maybe I want to do it more than he does, but he’s always been agreeable and easygoing… a true keeper! Oh, and he’s also one happy cake tester… too happy that I have to give away half of the cakes each time because it’s just not ok to eat three entire cakes in one week.

All three cakes that I made were delicious. Each one is very special in its own way, but the third one was the charm. It really makes for a great wedding cake!

It sounds like a totally crazy combination, right? So crazy that I knew it was just going to be good and I had to make it, pronto! This cake had a really interesting flavor. I know that the word interesting is something that most people use to describe something that is not really interesting or exciting and use the word anyway because there’s nothing else to say. But, that’s not the case for this cake. It really has interesting flavors, simple and complex at the same time. I would consider this cake more of a quick bread since it isn’t too sweet and soft. Dark chocolate, rosemary, and olive oil are three of my favorite ingredients in any recipe and these three ingredients all thrown together into a cake is too good to be true. Friends, this is a good one… simply lovely, subtle yet intense, with a magic touch that makes it so good, yet you can’t quite place what it is that makes it good. This would be a perfect cake to serve for brunch parties or just an everyday, snack cake.


This cake is for dark chocolate and stout lovers! If beer isn't your thing, worry not, because once the simmered down beer goes into the cake, there is nothing left but a rich, dense, moist, chocolate cake that has a mild sweetness and full body.

The icing is amazing. Really, it is! Powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and buttermilk... so rich, chocolatey, and perfectly sweet. I am in love with it and couldn't stop licking it off the whisk, the bowl, and the sides of the cake. This might be my go to quick icing from now on!

Cake # 3: Also Known as My Wedding Cake!

After searching all of my cookbooks for a promising cake recipe, I came upon this particular Ina Garten recipe in Barefoot Contessa at Home: Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. Even before I finished reading the directions, I knew that this would be the one and it had to be made in my kitchen soon. Now that the cake problem was solved, I needed to find the perfect frosting. That was when I remembered the best buttercream frosting I have ever had in my entire life. It was at Delancey’s in Seattle. DFJ and I happened to be there on the night of their 3rd anniversary last year. So, I emailed Molly Wizenberg and asked her for the cake and frosting recipe. She was very sweet and happily shared it with me… it is the best coincidence that the Delancey cake recipe is so close to the Ina Garten recipe that I found. In the end, I decided to make Ina Garten’s cake with Delancey’s Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting.     

Absolutely lovely! This cake is perfectly sweet with a rich chocolate flavor and notes of coffee… Every bite is surprisingly light and airy with its moist and spongy texture. A truly delicious and decadent cake with a delicate softness that just makes you smile and fall in love with it. The frosting is just as heavenly… buttery sweetness with hints of salted caramel. What could be possibly be better than this? After the first bite, DFJ and I knew that this would be the perfect celebratory cake to welcome us into our new life together.

As much as I would like to share the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting, I am not sure if it is my place to do so. But I would be happy to tell you that there are two components to the frosting: the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I made meringue for the first time!) with a homemade salted, caramel sauce that has real vanilla beans in it for added flavor. So very special!   


Wedding Chocolate Cake
Very slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake; Barefoot Contessa at Home

a teaspoon or so of butter to grease two, 9-inch round cake pans
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little bit to dust the pans
1 ½ cups sugar (the original recipe calls for 2 cups)
¾ cup cocoa powder (non-Dutched)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
½ cup olive oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil)
2 large eggs (the original recipe calls for extra-large eggs at room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Frosting (I made Delancey’s Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting that I got from Molly Wizenberg; Ina Garten uses a Chocolate Frosting; and I believe any chocolate or buttercream frosting that you love would be great with this cake)

Set an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease every inch, space, nook, and cranny of both cake pans with butter. Lightly dust with flour, tapping the bottom and sides of the pan to spread it around. This will help ease the removal of the cake from the pan once it has slightly cooled.

Brew a pot of good coffee… I used the French press method, but I believe that drip would work just as well.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk well together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make sure that everything is well combined. In a separate large bowl, pour in the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use a hand held electric mixer set on low to combine everything together.

Slowly and gradually pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on low speed until just combined. Use a flexible spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and carefully pour in the coffee into the mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined and once again, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pans, making sure to place an even amount in each. Bake for 38-40 minutes. Test both cakes for doneness using a cake tester poked in the middle. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Cool the pans on a cooling rack for 30-40 minutes. Turn the cakes carefully by placing a cooling rack on top of each pan (one at a time) and flipping it over. The cakes will lie on the racks flat side up. Let the cakes cool completely.

Gently place a plate or a cake stand on top of one cake. Hold both sides of the plate or cake stand and the cooling rack (with the cake sandwiched in between) firmly with your hands, and flip the cake onto the plate or stand. The flat side of your cake should be on the bottom. If you’re particular with how your cake will look, you may want to even out the top of the first layer since it is rounded… but I don’t care about that too much so I didn’t bother to do anything. Frost the top of the first layer using whatever frosting spatula you have (offset spatula, a frosting knife, what have you). Place the second layer on top, with the rounded side up. This is tricky… I carefully slid the second layer off the cooling rack onto my outstretched palm, then held it gently with both hands, and carefully but surely placed it on top of the first layer. Whew! Spread the rest of the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Savor every bite and enjoy!!! I have one more slice left to have as dessert tonight!            



  1. Wow, all these cakes look fantastic! And for some reason, I would have never thought to make my own wedding cake (weird, eh? I love baking..). I am so excited for you. If only I lived near you. I would be too glad to be a tester too ;)

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