Thursday, March 24, 2011

Icing, like love, covers a multitude of sins.

It's been three months since my last post, oh my! I'm sorry my chickadees!

Recently my church celebrated their 5th year anniversary complete with a chili cook off and a baking battle! I, not owning a single chili recipe to my name, decided to enter into my forte - baking; and I won!

I (Coffee Buttercream Crumb Cake), Shurama (Peruvian Flan), and Kristen (Chocolate Torte)

I agonized over what to pick, but I finally found a winner (literally!). My entry?

Coffee Buttercream Crumb Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I forgot to take a picture of mine, but it looked nearly identical to this version. Picture from DessertGirl.
Chocolate Cake:
The secret to a super moist cake? Sour cream. I didn't have much so I substituted part of it with vanilla yogurt. I then decreased the amount of vanilla extract I put in the batter.

3/4 c. dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 c. sour cream
2 2/3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) unsalted butter, softened & cubed
1/2 c.  shortening (I used more butter)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract 

Coffee Buttercream Icing
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/3 c. heavy cream
3 sticks (1 1/2 c.) unsalted butter, softened at room temp, cubed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. coffee extract (I used extra strong 100% Colombian coffee. Decrease the water and use more grounds.)

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Since I had no corn syrup on hand, I substituted 1 tbsp. sugar and a 1/4 tbsp. water. 

8 oz. good quality 60-72% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened, cubed
1 tbsp. light corn syrup 

1. Gather all of your ingredients in one place (not necessary, but it helps keep you from making a ginormous mess!)  

2. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease three 8 in round cake pans; line with parchment paper, butter the parchment and flour. Knock out any excess.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa powder and sour cream. Add 1/4 c. of hot water, blend well and let it cool.
4. In another bowl, sift your dry ingredients together (flour, powder, soda, salt, BUT NOT SUGAR). This is important. Your cake may not be the right consistency if you do not.
5. In a third, larger bowl, blend shortening and butter until smooth. Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs on medium. Set the mixer speed to low and add the vanilla.
6. Now it gets fun! Take all three bowls in one location. Begin alternately adding the liquid and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture (in that order). Place the cake batter into the pans and level  them.

7. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the cook time. Place on wire racks. When they cool, turn the pans upside down, loosen the cake and remove the parchment.

I didn't use parchment because, surprise, I didn't have any! I buttered and floured the pans and crossed my fingers. I call this recipe crumb cake because I had to reassemble the tattered pieces into a cake shape on the serving tray. Thankfully, icing, like love, covers a multitude of sins! 

During the times the cake is baking, go ahead and make the icing. It'll save you tons of time. While the cakes are cooling, the icing can be in the refrigerator firming up to use. 

1. In a medium heavy pan whisk together the flour and sugar. Add the whole milk and cream and bring to a rolling boil. This will thicken the icing. Be sure to stir frequently or it WILL burn to the bottom of your pan (still edible, but your icing will have little brown bits.)
2. Transfer to a mixing bowl (I used glass), and beat on high speed until the mix it cool. It helps if you put it on top of frozen food. 
3. Reduce the mixer's speed to low and add in the butter. Gradually increase the speed back to high and whip until fluffy. Add in the coffee and vanilla and mix until incorporated. 
4. Set in fridge to firm.  

After the cake has cool and your icing is ready to go, layer your cakes. Place one down; even the top with a knife if you'd like; spread a even layer of icing and repeat until all the cakes are stacked. Once it is all assembled spread a thin layer of icing all around and place back in the fridge. This is called a crumb coat and will help your cake to look pretty. Wait about 15 minutes and spread the rest of the icing all over it. 

Now it's time for the ganache! I didn't have a double boiler (has anyone kept talley of how many things I haven't had for this cake?) so I used a glass bowl and a sauce pan. It worked mighty well!

1. Chop your chocolate into course pieces. I used two Lindt 70% Cocao bars and their breaks make it super easy!
2. Place all the ingredients into the already boiling double boiler. Stir until the whole thing is smooth. 

When you go to glaze the cake, do it in two layers. The first helps even the top out (and makes it wonderfully thick!). The second can be your side drizzle. To add a nice touch, garnish with the chocolate covered espresso beans and chill for 20 minutes!

It's not hard to make, just time consuming. And the result is well worth the effort! 

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