I you have ever visited my home you will notice two things: One – I am very messy and two – I LOVE cookbooks and have a bit of a collection. Until my husband took over the shelves (that he built for my cookbooks – harumph!) with his work I had all of my cookbooks neatly organised by colour (my brain works that way) with a small spot in the kitchen for my frequently used books. One of the books that has always lived in my kitchen is Lisa Yockelson’s Chocolate and the muckiest page in the book belongs to her Heirloom Devil’s Food Cake. I love it. Regardless of who the cake is made for or belongs to, I usually eat most of it. Sometimes maybe perhaps I eat all of it…
For my son’s latest birthday I made my favourite cake, but I have also used it for some other celebrations:
This year’s LEGO cake, in all its lime green glory:
And some pinata action:
Heirloom Devil’s Food Cake
2 ¼ cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cup plus
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
1 ¼ cups buttermilk, whisked well
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease the inside of two 9-inch layer cake pans (1 ½ inches deep) with shortening, line the bottom of each pan with a circle of waxed paper cut to fit, grease the paper, and dust with flour.
2. Mix the batter: Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
3. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 45 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. On low speed, alternately add the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl frequently to keep the batter even-textured.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly between them. Spread the batter evenly.
5. Bake and cool the layers: Bake the cake layers in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until risen, set and a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer withdraws clean (or with a few crumbs attached). Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto other cooling racks, peel away the waxed paper, and cool completely.
6. Set up the serving plate: Tear off four 3-inch-wide strips of waxed paper. Place the strips in the shape of a square on the outer 3 inches of a cake plate.
7. Assemble and frost the cake: Center one cake layer on the plate (partially covering the waxed paper square; the strips should extend by at least 1 inch). Spread over a layer of frosting. Carefully position the second layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake, swirling the frosting as you go. Once set, gently remove and discard the strips of paper. Let the cake stand for 1 hour before slicing and serving. Bake and serve within 1 day
Chocolate Butter Frosting
4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
7 tablespoons milk, heated to tepid
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
1. Place the confectioners’ sugar, salt, melted chocolate, vanilla extract and milk in the bowl of a heavy-duty freestanding electric mixer fitted with the flat paddle. Scatter over the chunks of butter and beat on moderately low speed for 2 minutes to being the mixing process.
2. When the frosting begins to come together, raise the speed to moderate and beat for 3 minutes, or until very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to keep the frosting even-textured.
3. Increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes, or until very creamy. Adjust the texture of the frosting to spreading consistency, as needed, for adding additional teaspoons of milk or tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar.