I don't bake many cakes, and that's probably no surprise to anyone looking at my haphazard frosting application. However, that's OK. As the master cake artist Glenna reassured me, it proves that the cake is homemade. I made this terrific Ina Garten recipe in honor of my cousin Charmayne and her handsome fella, Julius, who came to dinner on Sunday. Charmayne and Julius just moved to Sacramento and are in the exhausting process of unpacking all their worldly goods and moving into a new apartment. Therefore, I felt a cake was in order. Ina Garten swears this is one of the best cake recipes she's ever made. And it lived up to her praise. It was delicious and easy for my rusty cake baking skills. I made it while I was having one of my "tired" periods and the one bowl method was greatly appreciated. The cake has one cup of freshly brewed coffee in the batter and a tablespoon of instant expresso in the frosting. As Julius noted, it cut the sweetness nicely, but didn't announce any presence of coffee in it.
If you read the recipe, you'll see that the frosting is actually chocolate flavored butter. It's so good, you really don't need any decoration, but I decided to put raspberries on top and it was a nice tart note against the rich chocolate taste.
Double Chocolate Cake (Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• 2 cups sugar
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 large eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
• 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1. MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
4. MAKE THE FROSTING: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
6. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.
MAKE AHEAD The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.