Happy birthday to FTF! It’s been about one year of regular blogging, with a great website and beautiful photos by the handsome Mr. Smith, so I think this calls for some cake! We’ve had a big year: we moved, got married, and traveled the whole country. We grown the blog itself too: we took it through a major redesign, we added an affiliate marketer, we joined the Blogher Network, expanded to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter accounts and also added hundreds of posts (this is the 125th!) throughout the year.
This is my first ever layer cake, so that calls for even more celebration, I think!
While I’m not a big cake person (and would rather have a brownie over cake any day), I do make exceptions for birthday cake. That’s the one thing I need to have on my birthday, with an extra candle for good luck! (Any one else’s family have that tradition?)
Because this was my first try at a layer cake, I decided to take a note from some local kitchen masters – America’s Test Kitchen – for the recipe. I used their basic old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe, but let me tell you, it’s more than basic: rich and chocolatey and moist, and easy to eat a big slice! Make sure you serve it with a glass of your choice of milk; you’ll need it!
Being an ATK recipe, where their job is to test recipes every which way to come up with the best version, this cake recipe is very specific on the order of adding ingredients, which really does make a difference in the final product. The batter turns out pudding-like, so you know the final baked result will be moist and delicious! The steps take a while to do, but it is worth it in the end. To help make it easier on you with the number of steps involved, you can bake the cakes ahead of time (I baked mine the day before), and then make the frosting, assemble the layers, and frost it the day you plan to serve it.
ATK Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
rich and chocolatey and moist, and easy to eat a big slice! Make sure you serve it with a glass of your choice of milk; you’ll need it!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: (1) 9-inch, 2-layer cake
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing the pans
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (you can make this using 2 tablespoons lemon juice and regular milk; mix and let sit for ~5 minutes)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter; dust the pans with flour and knock out the excess. Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in a medium heatproof bowl; set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add the remaining 11/4 cups sugar, increase the speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg-sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of the remaining flour mixture and all of the remaining buttermilk mixture (the batter may appear separated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until the batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the batter once or twice with a rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans; smooth the batter to the edges of the pan with a spatula.
- Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.
Easy Chocolate Frosting
a very easy, simple frosting recipe that’s not too sweet
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2-3 cups
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer. Use the whisk attachment and whisk for a few minutes to cream the butter.
- Add in 1 cup powdered sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa, 2 tablespoons milk, and vanilla extract and continue to whisk.
- Gradually mix in remaining sugar and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Makes 2 cups total, enough to frost a 2-layer, 9-inch cake.
Source: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake, America’s Test Kitchen