Monday, October 6, 2008

I have had a busy week with little time for the computer. Needed to go to Wellington again for the last part of my university course. I did manage to fit in a quick visit to Moore Wilson though :-). Added a couple more cookbooks to my collection (like I need any more!!).... 50 Great Curries of India and Ladies, A Plate, and a candy thermometer. Lots of reminiscing in the latter book with cakes and biscuits I remember from my childhood. Some of my favourites are now my kids' favourites.

Been a busy weekend. Went to the Home and Garden Show in Hamilton on Saturday and got a phone call last night to say I had won the $1300 expresso machine and coffee grinder that the Red Cherry Cafe had up for grabs. I had bought some coffee beans and that entitled me to enter the draw. I was stoked and couldn't really believe it. I never win anything so I was very excited. I am such a coffee addict, so it will be a very welcome addition to my kitchen. The Red Cherry Cafe roasts its own beans and they do make very nice lattes! Not sure if I will be able to match them but it will be nice doing brunch on the deck with a mug of freshly brewed coffee.

Last night was my stepson's 10th birthday. It is a family tradition to have a meal and celebration with the family on special occasions like this. The birthday person gets to choose whatever they want for the meal, so his request was pizza, fries and cheerios. Pretty typical for a 10 year old boy and we just ignore any Heart Foundation warnings on this day!!! For his birthday cake he chose Devil's Food White-Out Cake by Dorie Greenspan.

I have always admired this cake on the front of Dorie's book, so what better opportunity than a birthday for it to make its debut. Unfortunately, my cake pans were a fraction too big, so it gave quite a thin layer of cake once it was halved. However, they were just what I had on hand, so I had to make do. The marshmallow frosting was easy enough to make, but it seemed to take ages for the syrup to heat to the right temperature, but my new candy thermometer came in very handy for this. The kids loved the cake, as did the hubby. It was very brownie-like with an interesting flavour coming from the marshmallow frosting. It didn't get the recommended time to refrigerate before cutting so was a bit crumbly, but certainly didn't detract from the flavour. It certainly kept his layers better today when I cut it.

Devil's Food White-Out Cake
From: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
½ cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
½ cup boiling water
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

For the filling and frosting:
½ cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter two 8-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. When it is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. At this point, the batter will be thick, like frosting. Still working on low speed, mix in the boiling water, which will thin the batter considerably. Switch to a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully bakes, the cakes will be springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Don’t worry if the tops have a few small cracks. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cakes layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

When you are ready to fill and frost the cake, inspect the layers. If the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. With the same knife, slice each layer horizontally in half. Set 3 layers aside and crumble the fourth layer; set the crumbs aside.

To make the filling and frosting:
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242° F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.

When the syrup is about 235° F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour in the hot syrup, pouring it between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable – don’t try to scrape them into the whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting. Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it’s really better to use it right now.

To assemble the cake: Put a bottom layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a long metal icing spatula, cover the layer generously with frosting. Top with a second layer, cut side up, and frost it. Finish with the third layer, cut side down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Don’t worry about smoothing the frosting – it should be swirly. Now, cover the entire cake with the chocolate cake crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs in to the filling with your fingers.

Refrigerate the cake for about 1 hour before serving. (If its more convenient, you can chill the cake for 8 hours or more; cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.)


Linda F said...

The cake looks fabulous Deb, and well done you for the coffee machine win, what a score!!!!! Now you really can indulge that coffee habit! I have often driven past the Red Cherry roasters and wondered what it is like but have never popped in, I must look in next time!!!!

Jan said...

You did really well the cake looks great, but I think I would have been put of by all the instructions, love your blog...Jan

Mary said...

Mmm birthday cake! I love Italian meringue icing, a must for birthdays around here as well. And lucky you! Espresso or cappuccino would be the perfect partner to all your delicious desserts!

Cakelaw said...

Congratulations on winning the coffee machine - it sounds devine! Your son's cake looks just perfect - I'll admit to being a little scared of making this cake because it looks hard, but yours looks perfect.

Tammy said...

the cake looks awesome! Just like in the book, My husband was working at the home show so you may have seen him! he works for Herman Pacific - they sell specialty timbers. How great winning a prize!

n.o.e said...

Go, you, for making that cake! I might have to call in 'sick' when TWD chooses it... Yours looks amazing; I think the thin layers are appealing.