Happy Thursday! I've been eager to talk chocolate cake with you, ever since my post on Classic Vanilla Butter Cake. If you read that post, you might recall that I mentioned my husband and I often debate which cake is a bigger crowd-pleaser: chocolate or vanilla. He's a vanilla man, and although I used to be a full-on and devoted vanilla lover, my heart is now true to my all-time favourite chocolate cake recipe: Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake. It's simply the yummiest, richest, most delicious cake recipe I have (not to mention the easiest). It pairs well with many icings and fillings, but works particularly well with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. For fellow cake decorators, you are likely all-too familiar with it, but for those who aren't, it will likely become an important addition to your baking repertoire. It's super-creamy, silky, satiny texture is only beat by its buttery, rich, yet not-too-sweet taste.
It also goes on so beautifully, unlike sugary frostings, and therefore gives you some beautiful and simple options when using it to decorate a cake. It's also what's used to coat cakes before they are covered with fondant and can hold sprinkles terrifically well, but it is delicious and diverse enough to be used on its own, especially for occasion and wedding cakes. That's why I chose to do this gorgeous ruffle cake, to show you how beautiful and show-stopping Swiss Meringue Buttercream can really be. I first saw this ruffling buttercream technique on Martha Stewart, and couldn't resist it's frilliness, so decided to use it for this small occasion cake I made yesterday -- so simple and so girly.
Speaking of girly, Reese was home while I was getting ready to make the chocolate cake, and when I called up to her room, and asked her if she wanted to help, down she came with her full ballerina-princess costume on. I swear I didn't stage that, but it sure made for some pretty-in-pink photos of her helping bake the cake.
First thing she did (her own idea) was start cutting parchment circles for her baking pans--this is so my child!
When I look at this photo, besides relishing in how adorable she is, I can't help but wonder if Grant would appreciate my baking adventures just a wee bit more if I wore this outfit each time I baked. (I can't help but think that this photo will cause me to tear-up when she's grown and gone.)
Such focus! I love this retro mixing bowl and tool set I found at my favourite vintage/shabby chic style shop near our house -- perfect for her little hands.
Okay, back to cake. This chocolate cake recipe is such a simple and delicious one. I call this cake "rich & ruffled" because not only does the cake and Swiss buttercream taste rich, but it's also a premium cake in its ingredients, although worth every single penny. As far as the cake goes, using a premium dark cocoa powder is paramount. I always use extra dark cocoa powder for this cake, and any other recipe that calls for cocoa powder. It's a sure way to bring your chocolate baked goods to a new level of quality and decadence.
The ruffling technique itself is quite straight-forward. Once I tinted the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (I went with a retro coral colour using a combination of Sugarflair "Peach" and Spectrum "Electric Pink" gel colours) I applied a thin layer on the filled and stacked cake, to ensure that the ruffles had something to adhere to. Placing the cake on a rotating cake stand, and with a large piping bag (I used 18") filled will buttercream and fitted with a large petal tip (I used Wilton #123), I started at the bottom, holding the piping bag straight with tip pointing at cake board and the smaller part of the tip facing outward, and just did a back and forth motion until I reached the top of the cake then started again beside that row, and so on.
Once the cake was ruffled all around the outside, I did a circular ruffling around the top. If you're a visual person, you may enjoy, and benefit from, watching a quick and helpful ruffling tutorial on YouTube, done by the fabulous Melody from Sweet & Saucy Shop in California. My ruffled cake wasn't perfect, but it's pretty forgiving. Ruffles are always lovely (especially fluffy buttercream ones!).
Here is the finished cake in its full ruffled glory. So simple and perfect for showers, birthdays, weddings, or any special gathering. Thank you, Martha and Melody!
Let's take a minute to adore ruffles. Ruffles, ruffles, and more ruffles!
Chocolate cake, anyone?Happy Ruffling!
Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups 220 g all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 400 g granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup 90 g Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Dark
- 2 teaspoons 10 g baking soda
- 1 teaspoon 5 g baking powder
- 1 teaspoon 9 g salt
- 2 eggs (at room temperature, lightly beaten)
- 1 cup 237 mL strong, hot black coffee or espresso
- 1 cup 237 mL buttermilk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup 119 mL vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon 15 mL pure vanilla extract
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 5 large egg whites (150g)
- 1-1/4 cups 250 g granulated sugar
- 1 pound 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons 10 mL pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
For the cake layers:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 2 x 9" (or 3 x 8" for slightly shorter layers) cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper.
- In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients to mixture and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer).
- Divide among prepared pans. Batter will be liquidy.
- Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean, about 35 minutes. Try not to overbake.
- Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed, gradually add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
- Add vanilla and salt and mix well.
- Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
- Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks.
*If doing the ruffly cake, you can increase the cake recipe by 50% for a 3-layer cake (or 6, if you slice each in 2) and make the buttercream x 3. It requires tons and tons of buttercream. Trust me!
**This cake is sturdy enough to be used under fondant, stacked, etc. but also moist and tasty enough too go on its own with almost any type of frosting, glaze, sprinkles, etc.
[Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe adapted from Martha Stewart]