Yes, I am throwing down a bit of a gauntlet here. Yes, I am happy to receive your recipes for your favorite chocolate layer cake. And no, I haven’t finished baking my way through Nigella’s Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame. But to be honest, her layer cakes haven’t thrilled me (though on review, I’ve only made 2 — old fashioned and malteaser, both of which were too sweet and too dry, I thought– so she’s still doing better than most cookbooks). Chocolate Guiness Cake, Chocolate Honey Cake, Chocolate Gingerbread: now those are some fabulous cakes, and I’ll be making them often.
But for a birthday (and we recently celebrated Eli’s), I want a layer cake, and this one is everything chocolatey and chewy and dense that I want in a layer cake. I got the recipe years ago from a friend who xeroxed it out of a magazine, which credited the recipe to The Casual Cafe in Sturbridge, MA. If anyone out there is near the cafe, go find it at the source and report back to me!
I’m giving you the cake recipe as published. However, if you feel, as I do, that there’s no such thing as too much cream cheese frosting, go ahead and double that part of the recipe to get an extra thick filling. I’ve also been known to split each cake layer (with toothpicks and dental floss: looks trickier than it is) and put cream cheese filling between each of four cake layers. Occasionally I even quadruple the cream cheese filling recipe, so that there’s enough to frost the middle, top, and sides of the cake (in this case, obviously, I dispense with the chocolate glaze). You get the idea: I like cream cheese frosting, and so do my boys.
For the cake layers:
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process; I’ve written that even though I can never remember what that means. Anyone want to refresh my memory?)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
4 medium carrots, coarsely shredded (about 2 cups)
For the cream cheese filling
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
For chocolate glaze
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
6 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c confectioner’s sugar
Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour two 9×2″ round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
Whisk or sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together eggs and oil on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in carrots and divide batter between pans. Bake cake layers in middle of oven 40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on a rack 10 minutes and invert onto rack to cool completely.
Make cream cheese filling:
Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and beat until creamy.
Spread filling on top of one cooled cake layer and top with other layer.
Make chocolate glaze:
In a small saucepan, combine glaze ingrediants and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and glaze is smooth. Remove from heat, cool glaze slightly, then spread over top of the cake, letting it run down the sides.