Layered cakes aren't my forte. If you've peeked at my recipe index you'll notice that it's seriously lacking in the cake department. I've always struggled with issues like rise, sticking or texture. I'm sure many of you have faced similar problems. It's downright frustrating to go through all of that work (and ingredients) only to end up with a cake catastrophe. That's why I usually prefer making cupcakes. They're easy, you can scale down the recipe and they're just more fun! So when you do see a cake recipe pop up on here, you know it's gotta be a good one!
I made this Classic Chocolate Cake for Sunday dessert. I wanted to do something different and I really wanted something chocolate! This cake fit the bill. I started off with the batter for the cake. I adapted a recipe that I had saved a while back and hoped for the best. I used part all-purpose flour and part cake flour to help create a lighter and more tender crumb. I typically have three natural unsweetened cocoas on hand (Hershey's, Scharffen Berger, and E. Guittard) that vary in quality and color. I went with the Scharffen Berger cocoa powder because it seemed like the happy medium. Feel free to use whatever you have in your pantry, you can't go wrong! Since I don't drink coffee I opted for using baker's espresso powder diluted in warm water as a substitution, which helped add depth to the flavor. After everything was mixed up, I buttered and floured my pans, filled them and popped them into the oven to bake.
Meanwhile, I made the chocolate buttercream... and let me tell you, it was heavenly. Light and fluffy, it was whipped to absolute perfection! The powdered sugar and cocoa powder were nicely balanced creating one of the best tasting chocolate buttercreams I've ever had. Once the cakes had cooled I made sure to even them out so that when I stacked them they'd be even. One trick I've found extremely helpful is to place each layer of cake upside down so that the bottom is facing up. Not only will that help create even layers, but will help you avoid picking up crumbs when you're frosting it. After the frosting was on, I did my best to smooth things out. Of course it wasn't perfect, but I think the imperfections somehow made it all the more inviting- like one that grandma would make. Classic, simple and undeniably delicious.
Classic Chocolate Cake
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. cake flour
¾ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. sugar
½ c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. warm water + ½ tsp. espresso powder (or 1 c. coffee)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3½ c. powdered sugar
¾ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ c. (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
5-6 tbsp. heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9" round cake pans, set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, oil and vanilla. With mixing speed on low, add one egg at a time. In a glass measuring cup combine the buttermilk and coffee.
3. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With mixing speed on low, gradually alternate adding whisked dry ingredients and buttermilk/coffee mixture. Mix just until combined. Remove bowl and pour the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
4. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. While cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream by beating the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter is smooth and creamy, add salt, vanilla and heavy cream. Mix until incorporated. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder (I used my guard on my mixer to prevent any of the powder from escaping). Once combined, beat on medium-hight until fluffy, about 2 minutes. If the frosting isn't spreadable enough, add a splash more of cream and beat another 30 seconds.
6. To assemble, place one layer of cake onto a round or a cake stand. Frost the top evenly, then add the next layer. Frost the top of that layer and then the sides of the entire cake. Decorate/pipe as desired.
NOTE: I find if I forget to put my butter for frosting out ahead of time, 10-12 seconds on power 4 in my microwave does the trick- soft, but not melted.
Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction, The Best Chocolate Cake | Makes 1 double-layer 9" cake