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Blog

from scratch

Andrea

I would love to continue to gush about you all and your amazing support but I'm afraid that you're going to get tired of me.  So I will simply say Thank You, and know that you know how much meaning there is behind those two words.

The last couple of days have been emotionally trying but things are finally starting to calm down.  I hope that the future will be more certain tomorrow after I meet with potential new employers over lunch.  Yes, new employers.  I basically was laid off from my current position yesterday, although the exact terms have been unclear.  All I know is that my current employer does not have enough work to sustain two employees, and seeing as I am the one with much less time invested I was the logical cut.  We discussed the potential for part-time work, but mutually agreed that the amount of hours he could employ me (8-10 hours/week) were really not worth the frustration and hassle that would come with them.  My last day is Friday.

I am very fortunate that my hubb's company is interested in bringing me on board to help them with a very busy project they have in the works.  We have a history...not only has my hubb worked for this architecture firm for the last 1-1/2 years but I also was employed by them while I was in graduate school. They are great guys who design beautiful buildings and I feel honored that they are eager to have my help.  We have a meeting scheduled over lunch tomorrow to discuss details, timing, terms etc., so until then I don't have much more information to give.  I can say that I am excited, a little sad but very hopeful.  

In times like these I find comfort in my kitchen.  It may be poorly laid out, partly unfinished and lack any amount of counter space on which to work but somehow I still manage to find joy in creating delectable eats within its boundaries.  If you had peeked in my window anytime Sunday afternoon you would have found me amidst a cloud of flour, furiously scrubbing and chopping potatoes and finely slicing fresh red cabbage.  The potato salad recipe will come soon, but tonight I give you my first ever, from scratch, made on my own cake.  For my hubb on his twenty-seventh birthday, with love.

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I found this recipe a few weeks ago when it popped up in my google reader after Tara had a little chocolate cake taste-off.  Any recipe with 1250+ reviews on Epicurious deserves at the very least to be printed and filed in my recipe drawer.  But this cake was lucky, for I had a very special occasion coming up that deserved a 1250+ review recipe, my hubb's birthday.

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I clicked through a few more blogs  that had featured this old-fashioned chocolate cake in the past, and decided that the raspberry filling option was just too good to pass up.  Don't worry, I emailed it to my hubb first for his opinion and he heartily agreed.  The filling did not disappoint.  In fact, we have some reserved in our fridge to top off vanilla ice cream, or maybe even some morning oats.  

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The recipe calls for two 10" x 2" round cake pans, but I had three 9" x 1.5" round pans to use.  I adjusted the cooking time and all was well, we just wound up with a taller finished product...which I think made it all the more grand and birthday-appropriate.

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I got a little carried away with the amount of filling between the dense layers.  My thinking was "the more the better!", and, "what a pretty picture it will make!".  However, when it came time to smear chocolate ganache across the entire outer surface the excess filling was problematic.  It oozed out and mixed with the frosting, making it difficult to get an even spread.  My advice?  Save the excess for vanilla ice cream.

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This cake is excellent.  The kind of excellent that makes it worth the 4-hour prep time (with a lot of resting to allow for cooling between steps..and photography) and the extra mileage you tack on to your runs to make up for having not just one, but two slices.  The kind of excellent that leaves you dreaming of the endless possibilities this recipe permits just by changing the filling, or making cupcakes instead of a towering cake.  The kind of excellent worth sharing with very good friends while drinking champagne and celebrating a very special birthday.

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Double Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling

Makes 12-14 servings. Recipe from Epicurious via Seven Spoons and Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

For cake layers:



  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

  • 3 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk (for dairy free variation: mix 1 1/2 cups soymilk with 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and set aside to curdle)

  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla


For ganache frosting: (halve this if filling with raspberry or other filling)

  • 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

  • 1 cup heavy cream (or soy creamer)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter (or margarine)


For raspberry filling: (optional)

  • 2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


Method:

Make cake layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 300* F and grease two 10″ cake pans, or three 8″ or 9″. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

  2. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

  3. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

  4. Divide batter between pans (pans should only be half full - if you use 8″ pans you will have some batter leftover) and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes for 10" pans, 50 minutes for 8"-9" pans.

  5. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.


Make frosting:

  1. Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

  2. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). I found that stirring this over a bowl of ice water did a great job of cooling it off quickly and evenly.


Make filling:

  1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken. Let cool.

  2. Spread filling between cake layers, assemble, and spread ganache over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.