Sometimes you just need a chocolate cake. Wait. Make that NEED a chocolate cake. Yep, that was me this week. There has been a lot going on in my life lately and a luscious cake was just the thing to soothe my frazzled soul. This is one heck of a great cake and I am thrilled to share it with you!
Gale Gand is one of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors and the original recipe I started with is one of her most requested. Deeply chocolatey, with a tender crumb and rich chocolate filling, it is a cake that anyone would be thrilled to receive, be served after dinner, or as a snack with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.
I used all of the ingredients called for in the original recipe with the exception of substituting my favorite gluten-free flour blend. I did change the method slightly from Gale’s original, because it was easier to make with my KitchenAid mixer.
One of the directions in the recipe tells us to sift the flours together. A quick and easy way to do this is to use a wire basket or colander like the one above. I set it in a bowl, add the flours and other dry ingredients, and then tap them into the bowl. Whisking will also work or putting everything in a covered container and shaking it hard. The idea is to blend everything evenly and break up any clumps.
Because time was short, I chose to make this as a sheet cake. But the next time I make this I am definitely going to follow the directions for making this as a layer cake. I love Gale’s idea to turn one of the round layers into crumbs and using them to decorate the outside of the cake. If you have any thin spots or aren’t the best at frosting cakes, the crumbs will hide any beginner’s mistakes.
The only thing that was surprising about this recipe was the texture of the batter. It was gummy and very thick and required a lot of work to get it into all the corners of the baking pan. I didn’t get the top as smooth as I would have liked, so topping it with the frosting covered up the unevenness and made it look beautiful.
I baked this cake after dinner and it was getting late, so instead of making the frosting the recipe calls for, I just whipped up a quick butter/powdered sugar chocolate frosting. I didn’t make quite enough to fully cover the cake all the way to the edges, which you will notice in some of the photos. But since The Artist doesn’t like frosting much anyway, it was fine.
Because it was the first time I made this recipe and I was converting it to gluten-free, The Artist and I did a little quality control and took a bite before I frosted it. It was pretty darn good. And then I added the frosting and cut a piece for photographing. After my photo shoot was done we both had another bite (someone has to eat the pieces I cut!) and thought it was even better.
About 20 minutes later, here comes The Artist again, sneaking into the kitchen to grab another slice. Before heading back to bed, he turned to me, and with a laugh, cursed Chocolate Mondays because one bite wasn’t enough … he had to have another piece before he could get to sleep, LOL!
Happy Chocolate Monday! Have a wonderful week!!
Make the adjustments noted for gluten-free. Always check the ingredients and labels. If you have questions, contact the manufacturer.
- 2-1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting or gluten-free flour blend if needed
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, and more for the pan
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unsweetened Natural cocoa powder, gluten-free (see Note*)
- 1 tsp baking powder (Rumford brand is gluten-free)
- 1 tsp baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill brand is gluten-free)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups water, divided
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups unsweetened Natural cocoa powder, gluten-free (see Note*)
- 2/3 cup cornstarch (gluten-free)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the vegetable shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla. Remove the paddle attachment, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and put on the whisk attachment.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend. Add this mixture slowly to the whipped butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting on low and increasing the speed to high once incorporated. This helps pull in any stubborn pockets of dry ingredients. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until incorporated. Add half the milk and beat until smooth. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, remaining milk, and remaining flour, beating between each addition. Once the final flour has been incorporated, increase speed to high for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer, remove whisk attachment, and using a rubber spatula, scrape the bowl and beater, making sure everything is combined and no pockets of dry ingredients remain.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two round cake pans (or all into the single rectangular pan), smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven leave in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- If you made your cake in a 9×13-inch pan, you can cool and frost the cake in the same pan, making this extremely easy to transport to parties or events.
- In a large saucepan, combined 2-1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
- In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup water until smooth. Whisk this into the boiling chocolate mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until very thick, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in butter, vanilla, and salt. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the filling (helps keep a skin from forming). Let cool, then refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
- Spread a thick layer of the filling/frosting over the top of the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting and serving. Use any remaining frosting to top cookies, another cake, or to sandwich two cookies together.
- When the cake layers are completely cooled, use a serrated knife to halve each round cake layer in half horizontally. Take the least attractive top layer and place in a food processor. Pulse until completely crumbled. These crumbs will be used to decorate the outside of the cake.
- Set one of the cake bottom halves on a cake plate and spread with 1-1/2 cups of the filling. Top with the second bottom layer and spread another 1-1/2 cups of filling over that layer. Cover with the cake top, rounded side up, and spread remaining filling all over the top and sides of the cake. Pat the cake crumbs over the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- * Note: Natural cocoa powder is one of two types of unsweetened cocoa powder. It adds intense chocolate flavor to the cake. Don’t use Dutch-process or other alkalized cocoa; when combined with baking soda, it can make a cake taste soapy.
- Make Ahead: This chocolate cake can be refrigerated overnight.
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