Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ina Takes the Cake

Here's the rundown on the chocolate layer cake I told you about yesterday: 

I first saw this recipe in the March, 2007, issue of Food and Wine magazine and then I discovered Ina, my best bud in the Hamptons, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, published it in one of her cookbooks.  You know she's got some confidence in this baby if she's blanketing the media with it.  And rightfully so.  Ina is quoted in Food and Wine saying it's the most fabulous chocolate cake she's ever made.  I bet she's made quite a few. 

The gang at the weekend crabaganza (see previous post) gave this cake high marks, and believe me, that's one tough crowd.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake
(Also called Beatty's Chocolate Cake in Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 C sugar
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's dark chocolate)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 C buttermilk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 C. freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 8-inch round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. 

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal.  With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.  Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of cake.

Now here's the deal on the frosting:  I didn't use Ina's recipe because it has a raw egg in it and that grossed me out.  Turns out there's a big egg recall today so I may have made a wise decision.  But if you are brave, here is her recipe for the chocolate frosting, followed by the one I used:

6 oz. semisweet chocolate (Don't use chocolate chips because they contain stabilizers)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 C sifted confectioners' sugar
1 T. instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.  Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water.  On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended.  Don't whip!  Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Don't use chocolate chips)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 C half and half
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 T. instant coffee granules, mixed with 1/4 C hot water

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted.  Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add, one at a time, the chocolate, coffee, half and half, and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl.  At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar.  I keep adding confectioners' sugar until I get the frosting to spreading consistency.

Notes:  This cake was in the trunk of my car for 4 hours and when I reached my brother's house, the icing was melting.  I put it in the fridge for an hour or so, tidied up the frosting and I think it ended up looking better than in the picture, which I took before the trip.  I suggest storing this cake in the refrigerator.


  1. FYI, never put an iced cake in the trunk of a car and drive 4 hours on a 95 degree day. If you do, bring an icing spreader!

  2. This cake was heavenly and can't wait to make it myself.