I have never been a big fan of cake. I was always the one who only looked forward to the ice cream part, of ice cream and cake. But, as I have learned, most people don’t agree with me. In fact, I know quite a few cake lovers. So avoiding cake was not an option. As luck would have it, an opportunity for cake came up very quickly in the form of a 21st birthday.
Jake’s sister, Michelle turned 21 yesterday and I decided to make a cake for her. I was really worried about making a dry, tasteless cake. After all, the only time I’ve made a cake previously, was from a box. But, armed with my Christmas presents, I decided to take on this seemingly impossible task.
So, what kind of cake should I make? Naturally, I asked Jake. Michelle is his sister and I thought he’d be somewhat useful. I was wrong. My boyfriend can be very helpful, except when I’m trying to figure out what to give his family. Boys!
I did eventually find out, from the birthday girl herself, that Michelle likes chocolate. So chocolate cake it was. I decided to stick with a sponge cake, chocolate flavored of course. It wasn’t too difficult to make, except one part.
Eggs were not my friend that night. I tried two times to separate them, but I kept getting yolk in the whites. Jake finally took over and separated them, like he’s been doing it all his life. I’m only slightly bitter that it was his first time too. Anyway, since he did so well on separating the egg whites, I made him whip them too. In the end, we baked a pretty decent cake.
I waited until the next day to frost and fill the cake. Since Michelle said she likes chocolate, I went with a simple ganache filling. I used 8 oz of bittersweet and 4 oz of semisweet Ghirardelli baking chocolate. (Ghirardelli is the chocolate of choice in my crazy circle.) It was too much for me (too much chocolate gives me a headache), but Jake liked it. So he cut the cake in half and I filled it with the ganache. Jake then decided to use the rest of the ganache to do a crumb coating.
I let that sit in the fridge for half an hour, before frosting it with buttercream. I loved that buttercream, so it was very difficult to actually frost the cake and not just eat the frosting. The cake did eventually get frosted, but it took awhile. Jake came down several times, surprised that I was still frosting. In my defense, I’ve never frosted a cake and I wanted it to look good.
After everything, I boxed the cake, and put it up far enough away from where Jake’s dogs could get it. I didn’t realize, until after putting the cake up, that I forgot all about the cake syrup. So in the end the cake was a little dry. I heard no complaints though, so I’m calling it a success.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Makes one tall 8″ cake
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F put a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour 8″ round pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
Sift flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder.
In a separate, large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar vigorously, until light in color and thick. Add vanilla. In another bowl, whisk egg whites, forming soft peaks, and then add 1/4 cup sugar slowly, until stiff and glossy. Do not over-whisk.
Fold 1/3 of egg whites into yolk mix, gently. Fold in half of flour mix. Continue until all of flour mix and egg whites have been folded in. Do not over-fold. Pour batter into cake pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes.
Remove cake from oven. Use thin knife to loosen cake from sides of pan and then remove cake from pan. Wrap cake well and place in fridge for at least 20 minutes.
From Savory Sweet Life
12 oz chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat heavy cream to boiling. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely mixed and glossy. Place in fridge until slightly cool, then whip.
From Savory Sweet Life
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed, until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of cream and beat for 3 minutes. If desired, add remaining sugar for stiffer consistency. Add remaining cream 1 tablespoon at a time, if frosting needs to be thinned out.