So I dropped the ball in April—and then have continued to leave the ball on the ground and stare at it dejectedly for the 23 days since April ended.
How, you ask? I’m supposed to be making a chocolate cake every month—remember?
But April was busy—I was doing a lot of job interviews (more about that soon!), I got sick, we had company almost every weekend, and although all of that stuff (except getting sick) was awesome, it also meant that my time/patience for cooking was at an all-time low and I pretty much retreated into my bed and never wanted to come out. Plus, the longer I went without cooking, baking, and posting a recipe meant that it was even harder to convince myself to do it, because the guilt was so bad I just couldn’t face it. But then I used my sick day to redo the index over here, and suddenly I was excited again.
Anyway, I made this one last night and it came out great-- the perfect thing to get me back into the baking spirit! The cake recipe comes from the same wee card that produced such gems as this cornbread and these biscuits, so I figured it would be ok, but I was totally wrong about a few things here. First of all, I assumed that because this cake batter was sifted (and sifted and sifted) and calls for cake flour (which I never have, so I just swapped out a few tablespoons of flour for cornstarch per this shortcut), that the end result would be fluffy, spongy and light, but I was most decidedly wrong. Instead, the cake came out with a dense and heavy crumb-- not at all unpleasant, just different from what I expected. Had the layers been any thicker, the density would have been problematic, but with such thin layers, the heaviness was just fine. Additionally, the cake is just the right side of 'dry,' so it pairs perfectly with a moist icing or would do just as well being filled with jam, custard, or fruit curd instead of frosting in between the layers.
The cake recipe called for 'butter frosting,' so I searched out a chocolate frosting recipe that... involved butter (?) and settled on this Creamy Chocolate Frosting recipe from a Baker's Dot Chocolate recipe card from the 1950s. The frosting came out really tasty, but was super temperamental-- once I figured out how to work with it, though, it was great. If you have a double-boiler, this is the perfect time to bust it out so your frosting stays soft and pliable as you use it. If you don't have one, then work quickly and plan to reheat your frosting once or twice during the process. The problem comes because the warm melted chocolate gets mixed with cold butter, which makes the whole thing thicken up to the point that it becomes pretty unmanageable. If you start with soft (room temperature) butter, that helps, but if the frosting thickens to the point where you can't spread it, just zap it in the microwave for 3-5 seconds and it'll soften up just enough to work with again.
But don't let that deter you-- this recipe is totally worth it. The frosting sets nice and firm without getting the crust that buttercream usually forms on the edges, and the measurements listed here make exactly enough frosting to frost between the layers and on top of your cake without any pesky leftovers (always a pain when you're making frosting!).
This is a simple cake, perfect for a weeknight treat when you've had a particularly good (or bad!) day at the office, and pretty enough to share with friends but quick enough that you won't mind keeping it all to yourself, either.
3 spoons out of five. It's super tasty, and while I'll definitely make the frosting again, the 'sift-three-times' thing was just a little much for me when it comes to a regular white cake.
one year ago: Brioche!
One-Egg Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Grease 2 8-inch layer pans and set aside.
Sift flour once, measure.
Add baking powder and salt and sift together 3 more times, then set aside.
Cream butter thoroughly, then add sugar gradually and beat together well.
Add egg and beat thoroughly.
Add flour mixture, alternating with milk, very small amounts at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.
Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
Pour into prepared pans and bake 15-20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Melt chocolate over low heat, then pour into a mixing bowl.
Add sugar, salt, and water and beat until smooth.
Add one egg yolk at a time, beating after each addition.
Add butter in small amounts, gradually, beating well after each addition.
Frost layers while still slightly warm.
If frosting becomes too stiff to spread, warm it over a double boiler or in the microwave for a few seconds, just until soft.
2 c cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
1 c sugar
¾ c milk
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 c powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 ½ tbsp water, very hot
3 egg yolks
1/3 c butter, room temperature