I read in a cookbook that some American auntie has this saying: “A sad cake is a happy cake.”
Like how an ugly cake is also a beautiful cake? Or a sunken mess is also a risen sponge? These Americans are crazy.
But I take back my words. Now I fully understand what she meant after I made this cake, taken from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers In Baking.
It was meant to be the Salty And Sweet Cake, their signature item in their funky New York bakery. But, I tell you, their recipe for the salty caramel frosting was a complete farce. Already, I wanted to kick Nick Malgieri’s rotund behind for making me make rock sugar instead of caramel a few weeks ago (read diatribe here). What should I do to these two jokers who told me to make caramel by heating the sugar up to the Hades-like 350 deg Fahrenheit? The caramel was so burnt it smelled of putrified rodents. It’s supposed to be Salty and Sweet, dudes, not Rabid and Radioactive!
But I’m relinquishing my right to shove the vile sludge down their throats: They are saved by their recipe for the chocolate cake layers. I’m not a fan of chocolate, but even I totally swooned when I sank my teeth into the cake. It was moist, it was tender, it was super chocolatey. It was possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.
But here’s the “sad cake is a happy cake” part. The three layers have to be baked individually, and while each rises to a grand 1-1/2 inches, it sinks by 1/2 inch with 10 minutes to go before it is done.
They emerge with slight ridges around the sides. But still, stacked together, they make a tall, delicious cake with a slight bounce. There was no salty caramel frosting so I piled on some leftover buttercream from the freezer. It worked just as well.
I cut a slice for myself and gave the rest to my husband to share with his colleagues in the office. I am proud to report that, ahem, the cake was a bona fide hit.
Don’t believe me? Read comments below. (C’mon, people of Discovery Inc, show me some love!)
(Or no more cake for you.)
Moist Chocolate Cake Layers
Adapted from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s Baked
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 deg Fahrenheit. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line them with parchment, then butter and sprinkle flour over.
2. Combine cocoa powder, hot water and sour cream in a bowl and set aside to cool.
3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl and set aside.
4. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbon-like, about 5 minutes. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
5. Add flour mixture, alternating with cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Do not overmix.
6. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.