Monday, February 21, 2011

Baking is exhausting

chocolate, cake, batter, flour, sifted, mix.Well. I'd been meaning to make a chocolate cake of some variety for a couple weeks, and today I finally got around to it. This recipe came out of the copy of Martha Stewart's Entertaining (also see this old blog post), which I received in the mail Friday (thanks to that B&N Groupon the other day). I'm saving the actual reading of Entertaining for a time when I can sit and peruse leisurely, but I nabbed this cake recipe for now.

meringue, egg whites, stiff peaks.
Chocolate almond cake comes from one of the wedding menus (for ~50 guests, as opposed to the 100 and 200 guest menus. Dear God.) at the back of the book. The original recipe actually involves making the full size, multi layer, stacked wedding style cake, and uses both this recipe and an orange almond cake alternately for the layers (with copious amounts of decorative frosting, of course). I just halved the recipe and made a basic two layer cake, instead. Some of the chocolate I'd been intending to use disappeared, and I ran out of eggs, so the chocolate glaze (which I nabbed from my Williams Sonoma book.. and quartered!) is a bit sparse. 

chocolate, cake, layers, assemble, cooling, rack.
Anyway, the recipe specifies that you shouldn't overcook the cake, because it should be extra moist in the middle. I may have overcooked a little bit, but it's so hard to tell how done the cake is before it cools... Still, it's quite tasty. The meringue gets folded in last and provides that nice fluffiness. I just stuffed some blackberry preserves that happened to be in the fridge between the layers, but I'd rather have used raspberry, and had a fluffier frosting on top. My resident critic tells me he doesn't like buttercream frosting, but I've never tried it at home. It's likely to be a lot better than the grocery store stuff, in any case.

chocolate, cake, slice, removed, preserves, jam, layer, filling.
Meanwhile, you may notice that my accompanying photos are a little nicer than usual. I've been getting back into my photography habit lately, and have been working with a DSLR for the last month. The internal debate over what camera I actually want and whether I can justify buying it has gotten quite raucous, but someday soon...

chocolate, cake, slice, jam, filling, preserves, plate.
After reading Photocritic's post about prime lenses I was eager to try one... and then I realised how silly that was. Of course, all cameras used to have "prime lenses." This zoom stuff is really quite recent (a prime is simply a lens that has a fixed focal length, eg, no zoom). So, these photos are indeedy sharper than the average bear, and more excitingly, were shot at f1.4 in my dark little kitchen at night. So HA.

And you may also notice the watermark on these images. I've actually gone and sprung for Adobe Lightroom, which has made my life a good deal easier with its editing, cataloging, web design, export... everything. I have a little project in the works...

Annnd recipe:

Chocolate Almond cake

(This is half of the original recipe, and will make an 8" two layer cake or bundt cake)

8 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sifted flour (cake flour if you have it)
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup finely ground almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and dust the pans with flour.
Melt the chocolate (I usually do this in a double boiler, but microwave or oven works, too).

Cream butter and 1 cup of the sugar until fluffy. 
Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, and until thick and yellow. 
Add the melted chocolate, beating just enough to incorporate. 
Add the flour, almond extract and almonds, again beating just enough to mix.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, adding the salt and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar towards the end. 

Carefully and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter until just mixed. This takes a minute, but don't get impatient and fold too vigorously. 

Pour batter into pans and spread out evenly. Bake for about 25 min, but check after 15. The cake should be a little underdone in the center, while the edges need to be set. It can be hard to judge this while the cake is hot, as it firms up while cooling.

Cool the cakes on racks for 10 min, then turn out onto the racks and cool completely. Assemble however you like. I put a layer of blackberry preserves in the middle and poured a chocolate glaze over the top, but I was short on ingredients. The recipe uses a buttercream frosting. 

Chocolate glaze:
(This is also a half recipe, because I was out of chocolate. Double to use as a center layer or to just have more chocolate on the outside)

6 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbl corn syrup

Melt all ingredients together in a double boiler and let cool until it's not so liquidy that it will run away off the cake. Pour over top of cake, smooth out with a spatula as needed. 

PS: This recipe was submitted to the Sweet as Sugar Cookies blog Sweets for a Saturday post on 2/26/2011.


  1. Artery-lining stuff.... but YUM !! (Where's my piece?)

  2. Chocolate cake is always a good thing. This looks absolutely yummy. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your cake up.

  3. I love almond cake. I have never made a chocolate one, will try, thank!

  4. Chocolate Almond Cake sounds fantastic!

  5. thanks for the blog comment, glad you liked the truffles. and this cake looks absolutely delish..just what I'm in the mood for right now : )

  6. hm...your chocolate cake looks delicious. I'm sure your hard work is rewarded! :)

    I'm hosting the Culinary Smackdown Battle for March--the theme is Cookies. Would you like to join in for the fun? It doesn' have to be a new post on your blog. You can pick your favorite cookie from your previous post too. All you have to do is link up your cookie creation. I have some great prizes waiting. Hope to see your entry soon!