BM# 100: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Pick an alphabet
For the third week of blogging for BM #100, I have chosen the alphabet ‘C’ and so you will find three posts, all starting with C. The first one is a chocolate cake. Though I make a lot of cakes, I don’t share the recipes often here in the blog. The reason is that I don’t deviate from my tried and tested recipes for cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, I always go with the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. Its the same recipe that you find in the back of their Cocoa powder box. Almost all other chocolate cake recipes that you find online are variations of this one. I like it a lot and stopped looking for another recipe longtime back. So anytime I make a chocolate cake, its only the outside design that’s different. The recipe is always the same and its already recorded in the blog. That’s the reason why I don’t feature the new cakes here in the blog.
Though the Hershey’s cake gives excellent results, I find it to be very soft. It’s not a problem for a cake with simple decoration, like just frosting with whipped cream or buttercream. But I wanted to make a fondant cake that’s supposed to carry a topper. In fact I had two such cakes to make, one with farm animals theme and another with Safari theme. I went with the Hershey’s cake for Safari theme but decided to try a different recipe for the farm theme cake. I didn’t have any problems with the Hershey’s cake, it held the topper just fine. But I still decided to try another recipe to see if I can find a sturdier cake.
The recipe here is from the book Erin Bakes Cake. Its one of the best baking books I have come across. The book gives a lot of ideas for flavor variations, about tweaking a base recipe to get different flavors. I have the library copy with me, but I think I will be buying my own copy soon. This cake was sturdier than the Hershey’s cake, but it wasn’t dense. You can make three 8″ cakes if you are using 2″ deep pans. The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.
For the animal toppers, I have used a mix of gum paste and fondant. The farm animals are sitting on a 1″ tall cake base. The base itself can be taken out before cutting into the cake. So its a good way to save the toppers. It has a long shelf life and so you can display it in a covered glass cabinet. I looked at YouTube Videos for making the animals and made them a week ahead so that they can dry completely.
Recipe Source: Erin Bakes Cake
Makes three 8″ cakes in 8″X2″ pans
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks/227 gms), softened
- 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8″ pans.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add both the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat this mixture until its fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides down in between so that everything mixes uniformly.
- Add the eggs (one at a time) beat it in until its mixed well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with warm water so that there aren’t any dry lumps. Add the milk and whisk to combine everything.
- Stop the mixer and add half of the flour to the butter-egg mixture. Mix it lightly with a rubber spatula. Now beat it in low speed so that flour doesn’t fly everywhere.
- Once you stop seeing flour streaks, add half of the milk mixture. Beat it in. Alternate between the flour mix and the milk mix once more.
- Divide the batter evenly between three pans. Bake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes free of crumbs. Take out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan itself for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover with two rounds of cling wrap and return to the pan until its time for filling and frosting.