See.. I told you I'd be back with a spectacular cake to celebrate graduation. There's another reason to celebrate.. It's my Blogoversary!!! Woohoo! Today is the day I've officially been blogging for a year. One whole year!! I still find it hard to believe. For this wondrous occasion, I have no giveaways, no such things, just a heartfelt few words from me to my blog. This blog has been a huge part of of my life ever since I started it, and I figure, if we can carry out grand gestures for the people we love, why not a blog too! So here goes, feel free to skip ahead to the cake, or tell me I'm crazy, but this is me, straight from the heart.
Today marks the day you and I have been together for a year. 365 days. I could gush about how you changed my life, but in reality, you didn't. Instead, what you've done is made it better. And that's really the best thing possible, because I don't need more people in my life trying to change me.
You've inspired me in many ways. To start with the obvious - I've been venturing out of my safe zone, my happy place, and have made various things I never thought I would, and have even been scared of. But our association goes much deeper. You taught me how to create and stick to self-imposed deadlines. You taught responsibility. I could have slacked off and not posted indefinately, especially considering exams and stuff, but I always set a deadline to come back, and I always came back.
Moving on to people and relationships. That's one of the most important things you've done. Beginning from a journal of my baking endavours, you've literally turned into a social machine. I've met so many wonderful people, made so many friends in the virtual world, and I know that there are many people who read my ramblings every time, even if they don't reach out and introduce themselves. And I am thankful for that. You've made me feel accepted.
Acception of some 100+ people may not matter to most, but it's a huge deal for me. This acceptance has got me through soo many bad times. I always decided to keep you positive, and not let my teenage heart's numerous emotions come through, otherwise you'd become another outlet for me to cry. And that is probably the best decision I've made. At times when I've been down, when I haven't felt like living, it is you who got me back. Knowing that about a hundred people are there to read you, to hear me, I felt responsible. I put on a happy face, and somewhere down the line, the act became real. So I thank you.
And I look forward to many more years with you, life will change, but our relationship won't."
Thank you my dear readers, for sticking by me, for reading my often rubbish, each time, every time. I Love You <3 <3
Moving on to the cake, it is certainly in my Top 5 All Time Favourite Desserts. It's really THAT good. I'd been lusting over this cake ever since I saw it on the cover of a fabulous book, Chocolate Cakes. 90% of the cakes I'm requested to make are chocolate, so this book has been a lifesaver. It's got stellar recipes, that turn out every time. I'd always looked at the cover cake, never got around to making it, always saying that it's a big occasion cake. And the cake was absolutely perfect for the occasion. Trust me on this one, and make it next birthday, wedding, or maybe just as a cheer-me-up.
The cake is sinfully rich, without being too sweet. I've got a major sweet tooth, and I found this perfect. It is sweet. It is rich. It is fattening. But it's worth it. There's a nice crumb, none of that 'gummy' feeling, just deliciousness all around.
First step, a silky, buttery rich pudding. The cake takes quite a while to prepare, so plan accordingly. This pudding needs to chilled for atleast 5 hours.
Here is the sure-fire way to avoid pudding skin, since many people said they didn't understand what I meant in my previous post. You lay on the cling film directly on the pudding, and then refrigerate.
Next up, baking the cake. As you can see, it doesn't really rise that much, so don't worry about filling it too high. You have to torte and level the cakes, something that I always used to find easiest to do using a nice piece of thread. But this time, I used a cake leveler, and it was soo much easier. I highly suggest getting one of these if you bake cakes even on an occasional basis.
After torting and filling the layers, you have to put on a frosting of ganache. It was my first time making a water-based ganache, and for some weird reason, I was intimidated of this too. Probably because I've been conditioned to think that water in chocolate will cause it to seize. However, a large enough amount of water used, and nothing happens. The ganache went off problem free. While frosting a cake, I like to put on a thin coat first, called a crumb coat, to catch the crumbs, even while using ganache.
All you have to do now is lay on the ganache, put on the crumbs, and serve!! I wanted it to look exactly like the cover, so I decorated similarly, you can ofcourse choose to do as you wish.
Does it look similar? It did to me, I can't make anything exactly the same, I'm weird like that. I like being unique :P
New Brooklyn Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Chocolate Cakes
For the filling -
2 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder [I used natural]
1 1/2 cups [420 ml] hot water
3/4 cup [180 g] sugar
3 oz [85 g] semi sweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup [1/2 stick, 55 g] unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract, or half a vanilla bean
For the cake -
2 oz [55 g] unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup [50 g] Dutch-process cocoa powder - Again, I used natural
3/4 cup [200 g] whole milk
2 cups [240 g] cake flour - I used the usual substitute
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt - Omit if using salted butter
1 cup [2 sticks, 226 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups [480 g] sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract - Half a vanilla bean again
For the frosting -
12 oz [340 g] semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup [170 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup [140 ml] lukewarm water, 88°F to 90°F (31°C to 32°C)
1 tbsp light corn syrup - You can also use honey instead
2 tsp vanilla extract - As usual, half a vanilla bean.
For the filling -
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cocoa powder, hot water, sugar, and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until the cocoa powder dissolves and the chocolate melts.
- Add the dissolved cornstarch and the salt, increase the heat to medium-high, and boil gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly, especially at the edges.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, stir until butter melts.
- Pour the filling into a bowl, press plastic wrap onto its surface to prevent skin formation. Refrigerate until the pudding thickens, atleast 5 hours, or overnight, until it reaches the consistency of soft pudding.
For the cake -
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line two 9 inch cake pans. I used 8 inch instead, without any problems whatsoever.
- In a medium saucepan, heat together the chocolate, cocoa powder and milk over low heat. If you are not adept with melting chocolate directly on the stove, you could use a double boiler. Stir until the chocolate is melted, and the cocoa powder has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, if using.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, beating between each addition. Add the vanilla, and beat for a minute.
- Now slowly add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated.
- Pour into prepared pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the top is lightly springy, about 45 minutes.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutess, and then remove and cool cake on wire rack. I prefer refrigerating the cake slightly before torting, it makes the cake less delicate.
For the frosting -
- Using whatever method you are comfortable with, direct heat, double boiler or microwave, melt togethet the butter and chocolate, until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
- Using your fingertips, the temperature of the hot water and cake should be similar. I didn't bother using a thermometer, just heated the water and stopped as soon as the small bubbles started to form. Now you can add the water to the chocolate mixture, and stir until blended. The mixture will slightly thicken.
- Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla, and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, until it is cool and slightly thick.
To assemble -
- Place a cake board on one of the inverted cakes, and turn it so the board is on the bottom. Using a long serrated knife, a thread, or one of these nifty tools, slice the cake in half. I usually also slice of the tops, to ensure that all layers are perfectly level. It was these tops that I used for the crumbs on the side.
- Here's a great tip to make picking up cake layers easier, use a egde-less cookie sheet, or the bottom of a tart pan. Pick up the top layer, leaving only the bottom layer in place.
- Spread about 1/3rd of the cold filling onto the layer, leaving 1/2 inch at the edges plain, and then slide on the top half of the cake layer. Spread another 1/3rd of the cold filling on this layer.
- Now level and slice the second cake in half, laying the top half of the second cake onto the filling. Spread the last third of the cold filling on this layer.
- Now lay on the bottom half of the second cake, upside down on this filling, so that the bottom is on top. This ensures we have a perfectly straight, level top. You will now have a 4 layer cake.
- Using a spatula, lay on a thin layer of ganache on the top and sides of the cake, which becomes your crumb coat. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to firm it up.
- Now spread on the remaining ganache over the chilled cake, using a spatula.
- Crumble the levelled tops of your 2 cakes, and press these crumbs on the sides of the cake.
- Your cake is completed. Let the cake sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
All these steps might sound intimidating to you, but trust me, it's easy. Just follow the instructions. And the leftover pudding can be eaten with the remaining crumbs for a delicioud midnight treat. It's what I'm doing right now, while writing the post up! :)