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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday . . .

to my blog that is! My blog turns 1 today, so I decided to bake it a cake:

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Just kidding, I really baked this cake for a friend's 30th birthday, but we can pretend it's for my blog.

When I started this little blog, I didn't know what to expect. Would I have the time and energy to keep up with it? Would I be able to maintain the pace of constantly trying new recipes, photographing the finished products, and documenting the results?

I can honestly say that I love this blog and what it's brought to my life. That may sound a bit overstated, but it's true. For the last few years, I felt like I didn't really have a lot of hobbies. Bob writes his own music, plays guitar, and golfs, but what did I do? In college there was only time for studying and well, partying. It seemed like the only thing I really excelled at was school, and since my graduate classes ended in 2006 and I was left with the notoriously unfulfilling research portion of the degree, I needed a hobby.

I have always liked cooking. My mom is a fantastic cook, and I loved watching her. Sometimes she wonders how my sister and I know how to do something in the kitchen because she never formally taught us, and we just tell her we learned by observing.

While I cooked some in college, and more after, I seemed to always resort to the same recipes. This blog challenges me to expand my culinary horizons - to try new techniques, to explore new flavors. It forces me to make time for my hobby now, rather than allow it to be something I intend for the future. I have come a long way since my first post, and I hope to go much further. So happy birthday little blog! I hope we celebrate many more years together :)


Now onto this recipe. My friend loves chocolate and coffee, so for his 30th birthday I wanted to make a cake that incorporated both. I turned to my trusty "Cake Bible" and decided to make a Mocha Cake of sorts - a double layer Chocolate Fudge Cake with Coffee Neoclassic Buttercream frosting.

Let me just say, this cake is fantastic! It's moist and delicious. The chocolate flavor is wonderful, and it's just a really, really good cake. The frosting is almost too indulgent, if that's possible - it's velvety, smooth, perfect. I like the coffee flavoring, but I think I'd love it flavored in many different ways as well. It was actually pretty simple to make because of Rose Levy Beranbaum's neoclassic method she developed; it eliminates the need to monitor the temperature of the sugars, which is always a good thing. I have so far made two cakes from this book, and both have been delightful. I can't wait to make more!

One of the things that Rose suggests in her book is to brush your cakes with liqueurs to keep them moist if you won't be eating them right away. Growing up on box mix cakes, I find that I crave that moisture that only seems possible when using oil instead of butter. When I first baked this cake and had to level off the top of each layer, I tried the cake - perfectly moist and delicious. I frosted it and let it sit out at room temperature over night under a foil tent, which Rose says is fine. The next day I was a little disappointed that the cake was more dry than it had been, despite being protected by a blanket of buttercream. No one else noticed and the cake got rave reviews, but I think if I would have brushed the cake with a little coffee flavored liqueur it might have stayed a little more moist.

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup non-alkalized cocoa powder (such as Hershey's)
1 1/2 liquid cups boiling water
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups (10.5 ounces) sifted cake flour
2 cups (15.25 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, must be softened

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.
1. Prepare two round 9-inch by 1 1/2-inch cake pans: grease, line bottom with parchment or wax paper, and then grease again and flour. (If you only have 2-inch high pans, either do 2/3 the recipe for 1 layer or 1 1/3 the recipe for 2 layers). (I used Crisco spray w/ flour instead, and it worked great!)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

3. In another bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides.

5. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about 1/2 full. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center (mine took quite longer than 30 minutes).

7. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight or frosting.

Coffee Neoclassic Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 liquid cup corn syrup
2 cups (1 pound or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, must be softened
2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d'Oro)
1 teaspoon boiling water

Directions:
1.Dissolve espresso powder into 1 teaspoon boiling water. Set aside to cool.

2. Grease a 1-cup heatproof glass measure and place near the range.

3. In a bowl, beat the yolks with an electric mixer until light in color. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan, preferably non-stick, and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles). Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.

4. If using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Don't allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer turned off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Continue beating until completely cool.

5. Gradually beat in the butter and the dissolved espresso. Place in an airtight bowl. Bring to room temperature before using.

Source: Cake and Buttercream - The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

17 comments:

  1. Happy Blogiversary! :)

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  2. Aww happy blogiversary! You're awesome. I hope you have many, many more years of blogging.

    And how good does this cake look? It looks amazing!

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  3. That is a gorgeous cake!! I think I'm going to need to try that coffee buttercream. It looks so creamy! Happy blogiversary!!

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  4. Happy Birthday to your blog! Your cake looks fabulous - I am sure your friend loved it!

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  5. Happy Blogiversary! That cake looks gorgeous, not to mention delicious.

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  6. Happy blogiversary! The cake sounds amazing.

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  7. Congrats on one delicious year!

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  8. I want this cake for my b-day too. Happy Blogging and many more years to come.

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  9. Happiest Birthday to your blog! You are quite talented, my friend.

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  10. Happy bday to your blog. I know what you mean about loving your blog! Your cake looks delish. Great tip from Rose about brushing it with a liqueur to help it retain its moisture.

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  11. Happy blogiversary! What a gorgeous cake, beautifully decorated!

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  12. Happy Blogiversary!!! Looks like the perfect cake to celebrate :)

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  13. Happy blogiversary! That cake looks delicious.

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  14. That looks like it's straight out of a gourmet cake shop--layer cakes are my fav!

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  15. Happy blog birthday! Time flies, huh? Your friend is quite lucky to have such a good lookin' cake!

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  16. Beautiful Cake for your blogiversary!
    I can't believe your blog is 1- How exciting!
    I am glad you have found an outlet for what you love. Keep the great recipes and pics coming!

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