• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Wendy DeBord

Finding the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe (Part 1)

598 posts in this topic

I did the CI Sour Cream Bundt Cake last night, and it is just about perfect.  Better than the Double Chocolate Epicurious cake in texture for sure, and with a little tweaking, just as good in flavor, if not more so.  It is moist, dense, and substantial in the mouth, which is exactly what I am looking for in a chocolate cake.  The only thing I would do is make it sweeter - I used 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, like it asked, but I would definitely use all semisweet next time.  Comparing recipes, the CI cake is all butter, has 5 eggs, and no baking powder, and it rose just fine.  Filled a bundt cake pan perfectly.  I'm going to top this off with a milk chocolate ganache glaze, drizzle on some caramel sauce, and go to town on this puppy for dinner!

Lani

p.s.  I did change one thing - I used decaf coffee crystals, 2 tsp.  So nice to get the coffee flavor without the caffeine hit.  And I did something I'd never done before - I ate 2 or 3 spoonfuls of batter before sliding it into the oven, it was so good.

I'm so glad you liked the cake! What percentage bittersweet did you use? I usually use a 60% cocoa for this cake.

Merstar - Thanks so much for pointing me to this cake! Two days later, and it's still going strong. It's definitely one of those cakes that gets better each day. I used 72% cocoa in my bittersweet, so that could be why I didn't find it sweet enough. I just made sure that the frosting was sugarfied, and that made it just fine.

One thing to note, test bakers, is that this cake needs to be well-wrapped, or completely covered in frosting or ganache at all times, or it can dry out easily. I left out a piece for someone for a few hours, and it was drier upon eating than the rest of the cake that was wrapped. I've considered subbing a little butter with oil next time I bake this, but I don't want to risk ruining a good thing ;).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Merstar - Thanks so much for pointing me to this cake!  Two days later, and it's still going strong.  It's definitely one of those cakes that gets better each day.  I used 72% cocoa in my bittersweet, so that could be why I didn't find it sweet enough.  I just made sure that the frosting was sugarfied, and that made it just fine.

You're very welcome, skyflyer!


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried the tweaked recipe for the epicurious cake a little while ago. I found the taste of the brown sugar almost overpowered the chocolate. Last weekend, I made the recipe as written on epicurious(the cake part) and much preferred it-I have made it before. Here's a picture of the cake I made. I made a 9x13 and cut out the shape of the horse while it was frozen(also filled it while frozen).

gallery_20283_442_18869.jpg

Sandra

ps, I have made the CI bundt cake and liked it a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend. I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda. So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda: 1 teaspoon instead of two. I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb. I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda. And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend.  I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda.  So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda:  1 teaspoon instead of two.  I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb.  I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda.  And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Did you make the original recipe or the Egullet-tweaked recipe?


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend.  I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda.  So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda:  1 teaspoon instead of two.  I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb.  I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda.  And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Did you make the original recipe or the Egullet-tweaked recipe?

I made the eGullet tweaked one. I also made the CI cake for comparison. I plan on finishing both cakes off (I made multiples) this afternoon and tasting them this evening. Chocolate cake is very subjective, but I'll let you know this household's opinion after we've tried them next to each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend.  I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda.  So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda:  1 teaspoon instead of two.  I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb.  I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda.  And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Did you make the original recipe or the Egullet-tweaked recipe?

I made the eGullet tweaked one. I also made the CI cake for comparison. I plan on finishing both cakes off (I made multiples) this afternoon and tasting them this evening. Chocolate cake is very subjective, but I'll let you know this household's opinion after we've tried them next to each other.

Just double-checking - The egullet tweak uses cake flour - did you use that in the Double Chocolate Cake and all-purpose in the CI cake?


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend.  I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda.  So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda:  1 teaspoon instead of two.  I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb.  I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda.  And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Did you make the original recipe or the Egullet-tweaked recipe?

I made the eGullet tweaked one. I also made the CI cake for comparison. I plan on finishing both cakes off (I made multiples) this afternoon and tasting them this evening. Chocolate cake is very subjective, but I'll let you know this household's opinion after we've tried them next to each other.

Just double-checking - The egullet tweak uses cake flour - did you use that in the Double Chocolate Cake and all-purpose in the CI cake?

The only change I made to the eGullet tweaked recipe was the reduction in the amount of baking soda, so yes, I used cake flour. And I made the CI recipe exactly as written.

Edited to add: I did change pan sizes. I made an 8", 4" and 3" with the eGullet tweaked recipe, and an 8" and a 4" with the CI recipe. There is a volume difference between the two recipes so I could not make a 3" as well with the CI recipe.


Edited by WhiteTruffleGirl (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For those of you who really like the Double Chocolate Cake flavor, but were unhappy with the crumb, I might suggest you repeat an experiment I did over the weekend.  I suspected this recipe had too much leavener, specifically too much baking soda.  So this weekend I made the cake with 1/2 the amount of baking soda:  1 teaspoon instead of two.  I got much better rise and even directly out of the pan I could tell it was a better crumb.  I just cut into the cake to taste it, and it confirmed that the crumb is much, much better with the reduced baking soda.  And the flavor is fantastic.

You might want to give this a whirl.

I'm going to try some other tweaks to it this week, but I thought you might be interested in what I learned.

Did you make the original recipe or the Egullet-tweaked recipe?

I made the eGullet tweaked one. I also made the CI cake for comparison. I plan on finishing both cakes off (I made multiples) this afternoon and tasting them this evening. Chocolate cake is very subjective, but I'll let you know this household's opinion after we've tried them next to each other.

Just double-checking - The egullet tweak uses cake flour - did you use that in the Double Chocolate Cake and all-purpose in the CI cake?

The only change I made to the eGullet tweaked recipe was the reduction in the amount of baking soda, so yes, I used cake flour. And I made the CI recipe exactly as written.

Edited to add: I did change pan sizes. I made an 8", 4" and 3" with the eGullet tweaked recipe, and an 8" and a 4" with the CI recipe. There is a volume difference between the two recipes so I could not make a 3" as well with the CI recipe.

Thanks for the info. Am looking forward to your reviews.


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^me too! :biggrin: whitetrufflegirl, are you talking about the chocolate sour cream bundt cake?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it's the CI Sour Cream Bundt Cake. I got a little sidetracked with other obligations, so they have both just received their crumb coat and are in the fridge. I'm using Pierre Herme's Caramel Ganache. Oh joy...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The following pretty much constitutes a brain dump, so please forgive the length of this post. I took a lot of notes while baking, finishing and tasting these cakes and just wanted to make sure I didn’t leave too much out. And if anyone makes me taste another bite of chocolate cake in the next three days, I think I shall have them beheaded. :raz:

Some of you might find it interesting to look at the following chart I prepared the other morning to compare the two recipes. If anyone wants to check my figures, please feel free to do so…I wasn’t fully caffeinated at the time I put it together. This is based upon the reduced baking soda version I made for the Double Chocolate cake. As you can see, there are some really interesting differences between these two cakes.

ChocCakes.jpg

As well, I thought it would be helpful for you to see a picture of the two cakes side-by-side. That’s the CI cake on the right, and the Double Chocolate cake on the left. No artistic photography here like Patrick’s…did these flat on purpose so you could properly see the differences. (Sorry for the quality of the photo…I have a very old, very crappy digital camera.) Also, I tried to do a very light layer of ganache so the cakes flavors were not masked. (Just try asking my husband to eat a cake without a bite of frosting…)

DCCICakes.jpg

Let me start by giving just a little bit of background about the baking of these two cakes. As noted in my earlier post, with the CI cake I baked an 8” round and a 4” round. The batter depth of the 8” round was 1” and 1.5” in the 4” round. The 8” round rose almost all the way up the 3” pan and the 4” round rose the full height of the 3” pan. There was absolutely no doming on either cake. All in all, the CI cakes rose beautifully. With the Double Chocolate (which I made first) I made 8”, 4” and 3” rounds. The batter depth was 1” in the 8” round and 1.5” in the 3” and 4” rounds. The cake rose to the full height in the 3” and 4” rounds, but I had significant doming in the 8” round and some doming in the other two. (I forgot my Magic Strips on the 8”, and then decided for comparison sake not to use them on the CI cake), It’s difficult to say exactly how high the 8” cake rose because of the doming. If it hadn’t domed, I would venture to say it probably would have been 2/3 up the pan.

Last night as I was finishing the cakes, the first thing I immediately noticed was the CI cake had a reddish cast from the natural cocoa powder the Double Chocolate cake did not. It kind of surprised me given how much more chocolate to cocoa powder there is in the CI cake relative to the Double Chocolate cake. Yes, there is more cocoa powder in the CI cake on a percentage basis, but not on a baker’s percentage basis. If anything, I would have expected exactly the opposite. If anyone has a theory, I’d be interested to hear it.

With regard to taste, having made both batters the same day I did come into this cake tasting with something of a preconceived idea of which cake I thought would have more chocolate flavor. The Double Chocolate batter was definitely much more intense and chocolately satisfying straight out of the bowl than the CI batter. (It was also darker…not a valid measure I know, but visual queues are always something we tend to notice anyway.) And, to some extent my expectations did match my taste experience, but not quite in the way I thought they would. The Double Chocolate cake comes on strong from the moment you bite into it. And it stays strong with a long finish. The CI cake is much more subtle. It starts a little softer then builds in flavor and then finishes more softly. And I think it’s mostly the coffee in the Double Chocolate cake recipe that is giving that flavor, for if you look at the chart, you’ll see that the amount of chocolate (in combo with cocoa powder) in the Double Chocolate cake is actually a lot less than in the CI cake. And, next to each other, the Double Chocolate cake definitely has an acidic finish. Not one you’d necessarily notice without having something next to it to compare it to, but it’s definitely there, and that has to be the coffee.

As for the crumb, as I noted in my prior post the Double Chocolate cake definitely benefited from the reduction in baking soda. The crumb of this cake was much less crumbly than the first time I made it, and the rise was much better. But the cake the texture of the cake bordered on rubbery and I know I didn’t over-mix it. My husband said it’s almost too moist, and I would tend to agree. There was also unevenness to the crumb that in combination with the (what I would characterize as almost excessive) doming suggests to me there may still be leavening issues with this cake. As well, I’m thinking there might be too much flour. (I got one heck of a crack on the top of my 8” cake and that can be a sign of too much flour. Of course it could also just be because of its doming.) I really do like the flavor of this cake and I think the texture can be improved. I’m thinking of playing with the following: eliminating the baking powder and slightly increasing the baking soda to compensate, increasing the number of eggs and slightly reducing the coffee, eliminating the oil and increasing the butter, reducing the flour and changing to AP or a combo or AP and cake and, changing the mixing method. I wish I worked for a test kitchen and could play with all these variables all day, but alas, I do not and cannot afford that kind of luxury on my own. I’ll probably do a few of these on one or two cakes.

The crumb of the CI cake was great, as everyone else that has made it has already noted. I know CI says not to change pan sizes with this cake, but they were really referring to trying to make this a sheet cake. It works beautifully in rounds. If you want to make this in two 9” rounds, my rough calculations suggest you’ll need to scale up the recipe by about 25-30%. If you want a more assertive chocolate flavor, you might try substituting coffee for the water the next time you make it to see how you like that.

Taking into account taste, texture and crumb, if I were to compare these two cakes against each other to wine, I’d say the Double Chocolate Cake is a Cabernet Sauvignon and the CI cake is a Pinot Noir. Both are good, it’s really just a matter of what you’re in the mood for. I personally believe there are still some problems with the overall balance of the Double Chocolate cake recipe as far as texture and crumb, and for me, the overall experience is suboptimal because of it. I really want to try and fix that, because I love the flavor of this cake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WhiteTruffleGirl: That comparison really went above and beyond pretty much anything I've read recently on this forum. Thanks so much for taking the time to do that! :smile:

You noted that the Double Chocolate cake domed and one of them cracked--I assume you levelled the cakes b/c the cake in the picture looks perfect. My cakes usually rise pretty evenly, and sometimes I don't have to level them at all. I've never had a crack. I've used both the tweaked recipe and the original recipe. It seemed to me that the tweaked recipe yielded a slightly more delicate cake, at least straight out of the oven.

I bought the ingredients yesterday for my cooking class...can't wait to taste the CI bundt cake for myself. :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great analyses, WhiteTruffleGirl. Thanks.

I don't know if you used the optional 1 tsp espresso powder in the Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake, but I always use 1 Tbsp - this gives it a deeper chocolate taste. ALso, I use a Cuban instant espresso, which is much stronger than most Italian brands, etc. Good idea about using coffee instead of water - I usually use brewed espresso instead of water in most chocolate cakes, but haven't yet in this one - will try it next time.

I tried the Double Chocolate Layer Cake many years ago, and it was too sweet/ not chocolatey enough for me. The original 3 cups sugar was obviously too much for my taste, and I hadn't starting tweaking recipes yet at that point. Now I know what works for me, and I'd use a lot less sugar, as in the egullet-tweaked version. Maybe I'll try it again with all the tweaks, including decreasing the baking soda, although I'm a little concerned about the texture issues.


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the write-up, WhiteTruffleGirl. I will definitely be trying the CI recipe in the coming weeks.


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great analyses, WhiteTruffleGirl.  Thanks.

I don't know if you used the optional 1 tsp espresso powder in the Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake, but I always use 1 Tbsp - this gives it a deeper chocolate taste. ALso, I use a Cuban instant espresso, which is much stronger than most Italian brands, etc. Good idea about using coffee instead of water - I usually use brewed espresso instead of water in most chocolate cakes, but haven't yet in this one - will try it next time.

I tried the Double Chocolate Layer Cake many years ago, and it was too sweet/ not chocolatey enough for me. The original 3 cups sugar was obviously too much for my taste, and I hadn't starting tweaking recipes yet at that point. Now I know what works for me, and I'd use a lot less sugar, as in the egullet-tweaked version. Maybe I'll try it again with all the tweaks, including decreasing the baking soda, although I'm a little concerned about the texture issues.

Merstar,

Thanks for the tip about Cuban espresso powders. I'll have to search it out. Do you have a brand name? That will make it easier to hunt for.

I should have mentioned this in my write-up so I'm glad you brought it up. I discoverd when I went to make these cakes on Sunday morning I was basically out of espresso powder, and the nearest store that sells it is about 13 miles away. So I ground up some espresso beans in my burr grinder and steeped them briefly in my coffee (for the Double Chocolate) and the water (for the CI) to approximate the flavor I would have received from the espresso powder. I then strained that mixture through a double thickness of coffee filters over my chocolate/cocoa powder. Not the same thing I know, but something of an approximation.

Like you, I am not a fan of sweet chocolate cakes. (Or sweet desserts period.) The reduction of sugar in the eGullet tweaked recipe (coupled with the switch to a combo of unsweetened and semisweet chocolate) have made this version of the cake decidedly not too sweet. Both my husband and I have very strong "too sweet" meters, and both of us felt the sweetness of this cake was just about dead on.

I found out last evening I am attending a rather large family function this weekend (one of those last minute "let's get together" pot luck things) and have been asked to bring a couple of cakes. I guess this is an excuse to try yet another version of the Double Chocolate cake today with additional modifications. If it works, great...if it fails and falls or the texture is awful, I've got back-up cakes in the freezer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Merstar,

Thanks for the tip about Cuban espresso powders.  I'll have to search it out.  Do you have a brand name?  That will make it easier to hunt for.

I should have mentioned this in my write-up so I'm glad you brought it up. I discoverd when I went to make these cakes on Sunday morning I was basically out of espresso powder, and the nearest store that sells it is about 13 miles away.  So I ground up some espresso beans in my burr grinder and steeped them briefly in my coffee (for the Double Chocolate) and the water (for the CI) to approximate the flavor I would have received from the espresso powder.  I then strained that mixture through a double thickness of coffee filters over my chocolate/cocoa powder.  Not the same thing I know, but something of an approximation.

Like you, I am not a fan of sweet chocolate cakes.  (Or sweet desserts period.)  The reduction of sugar in the eGullet tweaked recipe (coupled with the switch to a combo of unsweetened and semisweet chocolate) have made this version of the cake decidedly not too sweet.  Both my husband and I have very strong "too sweet" meters, and both of us felt the sweetness of this cake was just about dead on.

I found out last evening I am attending a rather large family function this weekend (one of those last minute "let's get together" pot luck things) and have been asked to bring a couple of cakes.  I guess this is an excuse to try yet another version of the Double Chocolate cake today with additional modifications.  If it works, great...if it fails and falls or the texture is awful, I've got back-up cakes in the freezer.

WhiteTruffleGirl,

The brand of Cuban instant espresso I use is Bustelo. I used to buy it in my local supermarkets in FL, but since I moved to NC, I haven't been able to find it here. Luckily, I brought a few jars with me. Once I use them up, I'll have to order it online somewhere, which of course, will be more expensive. I prefer Bustelo over for example, Medaglia D'Oro, because it's much deeper and stronger. Since I love very very deep, dark chocolate, it works great for me in chocolate cakes. I wouldn't drink it, as I wouldn't drink any instant espresso or coffee - for drinking straight, I stick to brewed espresso. Just a note: If you do find the Bustelo, the word "espresso" is in tiny letters on the jar, away from the main label, but it's there.

Let us know how your next Double Chocolate Cake comes out!


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is this the brand you're refering to. 

http://beryls.safeshopper.com/142/cat142.htm?386

This is what I use.

Yes, that's the one, but I hope you're not ordering from that site - they are way overpriced - $6.50 for a 4 oz jar, plus $7.00 Shipping???? That's a total rip-off. I checked around and found two other sites that sell it for much less. The first site sells double the size (8 oz) for 11 cents less than beryl's 4 oz jar, plus only $4.00 shipping, and their 4 oz jar is $4.59 :

8 oz jar - $6.39 - Shipping is $4.00

http://store.cubanfoodguy.com/product_info...products_id=193

4 oz jar - $4.59

http://store.cubanfoodguy.com/product_info...?products_id=62

http://www.cafecubano.com/detail.aspx?ID=110

4 oz jar - $4.39 (doesn't list shipping cost)


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hm... I wonder what results I'd get using macadamia, almond or hazelnut oil.

I made the double chocolate cake and used hazelnut syrup to wash the layers before I filled them with Almond/hazlenut cream filling and frosted with whipped choc ganache buttercream, also flavored with hazelnut syrup.

the flavor combination was very good. the cake was a huge hit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried the BLACK CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO CAKE WITH BITTERSWEET GLAZE by Regan Daley? I've been eyeing it for awhile, but was hoping I could get some feedback on it before trying it. Here are the ingredients (I'll probably be decreasing the sugar, as per usual):

Cake:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, in small pieces

7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 cups boiling water, cooled (or 2 cups of strong black coffee)

3 cups granulated sugar

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) Kahlúa or other coffee-flavoured liqueur

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour, not self-rising

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze:

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, in small pieces


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Based on skyflyer and merstar's recommendations, I tried the CI Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake again. I used Callebaut bittersweet, which despite the name is actually a fairly sweet chocolate, and Hershey's cocoa (one of the few "natural" cocoas I find palatable). I baked to moist crumb stage. I had a little batter left over which I baked in a 4" pan. I tried a few bites of the 4" about an hour out of the oven, and my first impression is very favorable. Sweeter than I remember, moist, very chocolatey. I certainly like this better than the CI Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake I tried, and the Wooley cake as well. I'll try to post pictures and further commentary after I try the cake tomorrow, but right now I'll go ahead and say this cake is very good and definitely worth a look.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made the Double Chocolate cake again today, and chose to throw caution to the wind. I pretty much changed everything I planned on in this round of cake making deciding there was no real reason not to. Here is what I did:

1) Reduced the amount of flour from 2 3/4 cups to 2 1/4 cups

2) Used a combination of AP and cake flour—1 3/4 cups AP and 1/2 cup cake flour

3) Eliminated the baking powder and re-increased the baking soda from 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons to compensate for the loss of the baking powder

4) Eliminated the vegetable oil and increased the butter to 8 oz.

5) Reduced the coffee from 12 ounces to 8 ounces plus one tablespoon (the only reason I added the additional one tablespoon was because the mixture was a little thick without it)

6) Increased the number of eggs from 3 to 5

7) Changed to a creaming mixing method

8) Changed oven temperature to 325

There actually was a method to all of that madness. The first time I made this cake I loved the flavor but like many of you was unhappy with the texture. Per my previous posts, I felt the leavener was at least part of the problem. In starting to fix that problem though it only served to emphasize—at least to me—other problems with the basic formula for this cake…problems inherited from the original Epicurious recipe.

Rather than bore you with all of my rationale for each of these changes (some are obvious), let me get straight to my results.

Again I baked thee cakes, an 8”, a 4” and a 3”. For comparison sake, I kept the batter depths equal to my cakes as Sunday, although I had a little left over batter due to the change in mixing method. (Doesn't that suck…I had to eat cake batter…which tasted fantastic btw.) All three cakes rose very well, although not quite as high as the CI cakes that utilize the same mixing method and were filled to the same volume in the pans. There was no molten frothing of bubbles, no doming and the cakes looked beautiful coming out of the oven.

Usually I prefer to wait a day for chocolate cakes to cure before cutting into them and tasting, but needless to say I was too anxious, so I cut open the 3” cake. What a nice cake. There is absolutely no crumbling the way there was with the original recipe. The crumb is moist, but not at all sticky or “too moist” the way both my husband and I felt the last cake was. The crumb is not quite as fine as the CI crumb…but definitely getting much, much better.

The flavor is wonderful. I wish I had one of the prior cakes on hand to compare it to, but I do not. I’m not sure if this one is as intensely flavored as the last one…hard to say, especially since I’m not used to eating them so soon out of the oven. But I will have the opportunity to eat this one next to the CI one tomorrow evening, so I’ll report back after that.

All in all I’m very happy with most everything I tried. For me, I think the texture is significantly improved over where it’s been. I think the next time I make it the one thing I’ll change is making it with all cake flour. I’m not sure if the AP/cake flour mix is wrong, but I’d like to see if all cake flour is right.

I’d be more than happy to explain to anyone that is interested why I made the changes I did, so feel free to ask if you want to know.

btw…I’ve been meaning to bring this up…shouldn’t we be calling this triple chocolate cake?

Edited to add: I tried to add my formula chart, but it had Godzilla proportions...I'll try to fix that and add it tomorrow.


Edited by WhiteTruffleGirl (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a very successful tweakery, WhiteTruffleGirl! By the way, did you see my post to you on page 15 regarding the Cuban instant espresso?


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Similar Content

    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Hi all! I'm trying to perfect my lemon bar recipe, which is from my grandmother's Purity cookbook with all sorts of notations and changes she made. It's perfect in terms of flavour and the pâté sucree base works exactly as it should, but the topping is coming out too fluid.
       
      The topping is 3C sugar, 1/4C lemon juice, the zest off of those lemons, 1tsp baking powder, 6 eggs and 2C coconut.
       
      What can I do to firm it up a bit, so that it stays put once I cut the bars? Would cornstarch or tapioca flour do it?
       

    • By Daily Gullet Staff
      by David Ross

      I was pushing my shopping cart through the aisles of Yoke’s Supermarket on a recent “Fresh Friday,” when a spritely-sounding young woman announced over the public address system, “Attention shoppers, attention shoppers, two minutes until the next Cakewalk, two minutes.” Frozen with suspense and the anticipation of winning one of Yoke’s chocolate crème de menthe cakes, I stood pat on the number 36 yellow flower pasted on the floor in front of me. I wasn’t going to budge off that number 36 -- I wanted a cake. While I waited to hear my number called, I was overcome with a sense of nervous anxiety --the same emotion I had felt as a young boy waiting to win a cake when I was seven years old. I wondered why a boyhood fascination with winning a cake still left me with such a deep, lasting hunger some 47 years after I first danced a Cakewalk.

      What was it that tugged at my heart, telling me to delve deeper into the meaning of the Cakewalk? Why did I sense that there was an underlying truth I hadn’t discovered as a child? The only way I could unveil the mystique behind my relationship with this odd little dance to win a cake would lie in retracing the footsteps of my childhood, setting forth on a quest to discover the history of the Cakewalk.

      + + +
      We moved to Salem, Oregon from The Dalles, in the Summer of 1964, when my Father, Edgar Ross, accepted a position at the Oregon Department of Agriculture in the Commodity Commissions Bureau. My parents settled on a ranch-style, three-bedroom home on the corner of Ward Drive and 46th Avenue in the new community of “Jan Ree” Gardens. Our lot was bordered by new homes on two sides and to the East was a field of Blue Lake bush beans that would soon be consumed by the encroaching development. Mother and Father shared a few details about our new home. It had a second bathroom, a wood-paneled living room and an unfinished family room that my father promised would have a metal wood stove. But they kept one little secret from my sister and me until we were a block from our final destination on the day we drove to Salem -- our new house was next door to the grade school. I didn’t know whether to feel good or sick at the thought of living next door to the school where I would spend the next five years.

      Hayesville Elementary School was typical of the architecture of grade schools built in the early 1960’s-an L-shaped, non-descript building painted in drab green and grey. The assembly room, cafeteria and administrative offices anchored the building with the classrooms jutting out from the principal’s office. I started the school year in Mrs. Rhonda Sample’s second grade class. She was young, blond and attractive, totally unlike the spinster vision I had of the teacher that awaited me at my new school. The highlight of the school year was the annual “Open House at Hayesville.” Students showcased their talents, dazzling parents with displays of frogs and snakes in aquariums, samples of cursive writing on paper chains hung over the blackboard and paper mache busts of historic American figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Mothers and fathers could take a tour of the gleaming, stainless steel kitchen where Mrs. Fox prepared our hot lunches each day-warm, billowing cinnamon rolls dripping with powdered sugar frosting and her buttery, oven-fried chicken. But the most anticipated event of Open House at Hayesville was the annual Cakewalk Raffle -- a silly fun dance around the classroom. The winner won a cake and the proceeds went to fund other activities at school.

      We cut footprints out of colored construction paper and pasted them in a large circle on the spotless, pink vinyl-tiled floor. Each “foot” was given a number from one to twenty. Red, white and blue streamers were tacked on the outer walls and then brought to the center of the ceiling to define the center point of the cakewalk circle. When the room was ready, Mrs. Sample turned on the lights and opened the door, welcoming a parade of Mother’s who pranced into the room carrying Tupperware cake caddies, Pyrex baking dishes, glass cake domes and disposable aluminum trays coddling their precious cake creations.

      Three long tables were placed against the wall and covered with proper linen tablecloths. The tables served as the stage upon which the cakes would strut their stuff. The chorus line of cakes went on and on through the annals of cakedom-Chiffon, Angel Food, Devils Food, Sponge Cake, Pound Cake, Marble Cakes, Chocolate Torts and Jelly Rolls. There were cakes garnished with coconut, dusted with nonpareils, frosted with peanut butter, sprinkled with peppermints, and dotted with spiced gum drops. I entered the Cakewalk over and over until I won, seemingly always at the end of the evening when very few of the best cakes were left on the table. While Mother’s “Burnt Sugar Cake with 7-Minute Frosting” was good, it would be a total embarrassment in front of ones classmates for a kid to choose the cake made by his mother. No, should I win the Cakewalk and should it still be available, I would choose the Spiced Praline Crunch Cake made by Bernie Bennett’s Mother.

      The historical importance of the Cakewalk wasn’t a part of Mrs. Sample’s second-grade curriculum at Hayesville in 1964. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we were insulated from the racial struggles of the South at that time. I was a young white boy in a middle-class American family. I led the colorful life of a kid, yet I lived in a country that saw only shades of black and white.

      Only three years before my second grade, in the Spring of 1961 the Freedom Riders set out on a campaign to test the Supreme Court Ruling that upheld the segregation of blacks and whites at bus depots, waiting rooms, lunch counters and restrooms throughout the South. The Freedom Riders were met with ignorance and violence. African-Americans couldn’t drink from the same water fountain I drank from. I never knew.
      + + + The Cakewalk played an important role in the history of America -- a long-forgotten chapter that tells the story of the struggles forced upon the enslaved, who in spite of their burdens rose above the oppression of race and found a new form of the expression of freedom.

      The seeds of the Cakewalk were sown in the segregated deep South sometime around 1850, as a parody of the way plantation owners escorted their ladies into a formal ball. The women wore long, ruffled dresses of silk and glass beads with long, white gloves that reached above the elbow. The gentlemen were outfitted with top hats and tail coats. Couples pranced and paraded into lavishly decorated ballrooms, arm-in-arm in high-stepping fashion, marching into the center of the party, often to the music played by a banjo-strumming fiddler who worked in the fields.

      The winner of the dance contest sometimes won a cake presented by the master of the house, leading many to think this is where the name the “Cakewalk” comes from.

      African-American slaves who watched the proceedings took the dance on as their own in the yards outside their shacks, mocking what they saw as the frivolous customs of the plantation owners. According to the oral histories of slaves and their descendants, the Cakewalk was a marriage of traditional African tribal dances and rhythms combined with the dance steps of the upper classes. When the land barons and ladies saw the slaves dance, they missed the satirical element entirely, but the popularity of the Cakewalk had been established among the elite and it now transcended the boundaries of class.

      Wealthy farmers went on to sponsor competitions between plantations and the dance moved to large cities in the South and then to the East where it became a staple of traveling minstrel shows and ultimately to Vaudeville, the lights of Broadway and throughout Europe.

      On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation with these humble words, “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Inspired by the renewed freedom gifted to them through Emancipation, a freedom that allowed them to express themselves openly through dance and music, African-Americans led a creative revival that would usher in new forms of dance and music that had never before been seen or heard. The artistic contributions of former slaves and their descendants would forever change the creative landscape in America.


      From this humble beginning in the sweltering, humid heat and back-breaking work of picking cotton, African-American artists penned the notes of a new from of music called ragtime that would eventually evolve into jazz. It was the Cakewalk, unintentionally and ironically, that crossed the bounds of race and class status as it burst into the popular consciousness of America By the 1890’s, African-American actors, dancers and musicians had started forming their own production companies and staged versions of the Cakewalk became all the rage.

      Scott Joplin, (1867-1917), was an early musical pioneer of the Cakewalk style of music. Known as the “King of Ragtime,” Joplin wrote and performed in the style of rag—a combination of dance and marching music entwined with the “ragged” rhythms and soul of African music. One of Joplin’s most famous pieces was “The Ragtime Dance,” (published in 1902), that included a Cakewalk:

      “Turn left and do the “Cakewalk Prance, Turn the other way and do the “Slow drag, Now take your lady to the World’s Fair and do the ragtime dance. Cakewalk soft and sweetly, be sure your steps done neatly.”

      The vaudeville team of Mr. Egbert Williams and Mr. George Walker were two of the first African-Americans to take their musical show on the road in a grand scale. Crowds packed into The New York theatre in 1903 for 53 stunning performances of song and Cakewalk dances in William’s and Walker’s new production “In Dahomey” -- the first all-black musical to be performed on a grand scale in a major Broadway venue. After its raging success in America, “In Dahomey” crossed the Atlantic, performing for seven months of standing-room-only audiences at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London before returning to New York.

      By the turn of the century, Americans were moving off farms and into towns and cities in record numbers. Ragtime music transformed into a new genre called “Jazz,” with emerging talents like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington playing at the Cotton Club in New York.

      By 1930, the public fascination with dance theatre began to fade as America was lured by the intrigue of other forms of entertainment like talking motion pictures. But the early concepts and the heritage established by the Cakewalk endured throughout the twentieth century and into the 21st, namely, as a contest to raise money at church socials and school functions. The Cakewalk also delivered new words into the American vocabulary-“take the cake,” and “it’s a real cakewalk,” are terms used to refer to something that is “the best,” or a job easily done. Cakewalk software is a cutting-edge firm today that produces award-winning digital audio and recording software to the music industry.

      + + +
      I’m nearing my 54th birthday in November, some 46 years removed from my second-grade class. I had been lost until that Cakewalk at Yoke’s, yet now I’m found. I’ve learned a lesson in respect through the Cakewalk -- a lesson that taught me how emancipation allowed the enslaved to express themselves through music and dance. A lesson that freedom is an unalienable right bestowed upon all Americans. I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the place that this little ditty we call the Cakewalk plays in the history of America, opening our eyes to a world that was color blind.

      I found my personal truth in the Cakewalk -- a truth far richer and deeper than the dreams of a boy winning a cake.

      * * *
      David Ross lives in Spokane, but works a one-hour plane ride away. When he's not tending to his day job -- or commuting -- he writes about food and reviews restaurants. He is on the eGullet Society hosting team.
    • By pastrygirl
      Do you ever end up with ganache that reminds you of extra-heavy mayo?  I was winging it today, testing batches that set up ok but grainy, then weirldy flexible. The 60% i usually use is 39% cocoa butter, but in this batch I used 72%, which is 45% fat.  I also made some other changes but was trying to keep a similar ratio of liquid to chocolate.  The 72% ganache is far thicker than the 60% ever is - it probably needs more cream or a splash of booze, right?  Arg, I should know this!
       
      I got annoyed and left the slab out to do whatever it will overnight - cross your fingers that it is either use-able or save-able tomorrow!
    • By JohnT
      I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
       
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
       
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
       
        
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.