(*Also check out "Healthier recipe ideas" article)
Moist & Delicious chocolate cake
This cake has a full bodied not too sweet chocolaty flavor.
Makes 2 ten-inch cakes
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups strong coffee
1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350°. Grease the sides and bottoms of the cake pans with butter or shortening and either line bottom with parchment paper or dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set pans aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
3. Stir in the sugar.
4. In a small bowl combine the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into the dry ingredients.
5. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and coffee.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until set around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
7. Transfer pans to a wire cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely in their pans before removing. Loosen sides of cakes by running the flat side of a knife blade around the sides of each pan. Invert onto wire rack topside down and remove the pan. Reverse the layers by turning them topside up again, to prevent layers form splitting.
1-2-3-4 Vanilla Cake
named for its basic composition: one cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, and four eggs. Perhaps also for the fact that it’s a snap to make, and disappears just about as fast as it’s dished out. Makes two 9-inch cakes
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350°. Grease the sides and bottoms of the cake pans with butter or shortening either line bottom with parchment paper or dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set pans aside.
2. In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter thoroughly on medium speed until light in color, about 1 minute. Gradually add granulated sugar in a steady stream, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add eggs into the butter-sugar mixture, about a tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until batter is almost white in color, about 5 minutes; stop once or twice to scrape down sides. (If mixture looks curdled, stop adding eggs and beat on high speed until it’s smooth. Resume adding eggs on medium speed.)
5. On low speed, alternately adding combine flour mixture with milk, a little of each at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Bake about 25 minutes, until the centers spring back when touched lightly or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool for 15 minutes. Loosen sides of cakes by running the flat side of a knife blade around the sides of each pan. Invert onto wire rack top-side down and remove the pan. Reverse the layers by turning them top-side up again, to prevent layers from splitting.
Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week. Or, add a layer of foil over the plastic wrap, and freeze for up to two weeks.
Simple Buttercream This is a good short-cut easy to make recipe, sweet and simple. The trade off: it’s not quite as smooth or subtle as a Meringue Buttercream. Makes 5 cups
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other flavor)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Meringue Buttercream Fluffy, silky-smooth, meringue buttercream icing provides both a substantial cake filling and a just- right, creamy consistency for decorating. Makes 4 cups
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Blend in the vanilla. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Mix on high speed using the whisk attachment, until firm, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes.
4. Reduce the speed to low, and add the creamed butter, about 1/4 cup at a time, to the meringue. Beat until smooth.
*Don’t worry if the buttercream seems to break down and curdle when the butter is added to the eggs. Just continue to beat it until it smoothes back out to a soft, creamy texture.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week. To restore consistency, bring back to room temperature and stir with a stiff rubber spatula or electric mixer.
For Chocolate Meringue Buttercream, add one part ganache (recipe, follows) to three parts of Meringue Buttercream recipe.
Ganache isn’t just a chocolate lover’s dream, even though it’s a giant chocolate truffle of a filling -- —it’s a cake maker’s delight. It makes a wonderful sturdy base coat for a cake that will later be covered in fondant. It’s the one thing I can’t resist “sampling” while making a cake. Makes 3 cups
12 -ounces semisweet chocolate chips (or block semisweet chocolate, finely chopped)
1 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or other flavor (*optional)
1. Place the chocolate pieces in a large heat-proof bowl.
2. Bring cream just about to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chopped chocolate.
3. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
4. Whisk the chocolate and cream (and add flavor if desired) until well combined; dark, smooth, and glossy.
5. Let sit at room temperature until cooled. To thicken, beat with hand mixer for a few minutes. It also thickens over time as it sits.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. To restore to spreading or glazing consistency, heat and stir over double boiler for a few minutes until softened.
(*If you don’t want to use raw eggs in icing Meringue powder, which is available at cake- supply shops, makes is a safe alternative; the packaging will carry a recipe for royal icing.)
This smooth, white, hard-drying icing holds its shape when you’re piping decorations. It’s also used as a "glue" to connect decorations together. It’s sensitive to heat and humidity, and also to grease, so keep it cool, and make sure your utensils have been cleansed thoroughly of butter and oil. Makes about 2 1/2 cups
2 large egg whites, room temperature*
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Beat the egg whites on medium speed to loosen, about a minute.
2. Add sugar about a cup at a time.
3. Add lemon juice beating continuously until stiff but not dry, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. To restore to piping consistency, stir with a stiff rubber spatula.
1. If icing is too thick, add more egg white; if it is too thin, add more sugar.
2. To make a thinner royal icing for flooding borders, gradually adding a few drops of water until the icing has a syrupy consistency.