Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chocolate Cake Ver. 1, For Birthdays and Farewell

Two of my colleagues celebrated their birthdays and another one his farewell party of sort for deciding to cut short his contract and go back to the Philippines permanently. So, two separate celebrations (birthday and farewell combine in one and birthday in another) were held last weekend in two Filipino dormitories of the company. As my share in the food, I decided to bake chocolate cakes for the birthday celebrants. I thought it is also a good chance for me to make a post of the wonderful cake I have been baking every time an occasion requires it. It is quite easy and so good that it is a constant hit. I would like to share it to the readers of the blog who might want to try it on their next birthday occasion in the family for a more personal touch to the centre piece of the feast. It’s worth it.

I once read that, one should at least bake once in their lifetime. I don’t know, but maybe because of the joy and fulfilment one can achieve after a successful baking. I did not get my attempts at baking cake perfectly done the first time. It’s difficult to make things perfect when you are nervous. But the fulfilment really overwhelmed me that I continue doing it until such time that I considered it already easy. It sure is not yet perfect and comparable to the fancy cakes from your neighbourhood bake shops as far as presentation or looks is concern, but it is delicious and probably better in taste than most you will buy commercially.

Chocolate cake is probably one of the most elaborate cakes to prepare. It involves several stages including the cake layer, ganache frosting, filling and icing. For this recipe where the cake is intended to feed mostly male visitors who are not so fun of sweets, I skipped the filling and icing parts. So it is a straight forward chocolate cake with only frosting. The moist cake itself will provide the reasons for either liking or not liking it.

There are two separate celebrations and I did prepared two cakes, but for simplicity and easy understanding, please note that the baking presentation and quantities I will be mentioning are only good for 1 cake. I just repeated the whole process to make the second cake. :-)

To make the chocolate cake, we need the following ingredients: For the cake layer - 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour here), 2 cups fine white sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup vegetable oil, 1 cup water, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ cup buttermilk, 1 tsp baking soda, 3 medium eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

For the ganache frosting - ½ cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ cup milk, 3~4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

The first step is to have your oven ready by preheating it to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C. But I don’t recommend this for first time bakers. You might be wasting too much LPG fuel or electricity as you are expected to consume more time in the preparation than regular bakers. Yes, that’s based on experience, my own experience. So if you are new in baking, you can do this step a little later, just when you are ready with your batter.

To start, sift the 2 cups sugar and 2 cups flour together and set aside.

In a sauce pan, combine ½ cup butter, oil, water, and ¼ cup cocoa powder. Bring mixture to a boil, remove from heat and add to the flour-sugar mixture set aside above.

Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk and add to the cocoa-flour mixture as well. Followed with the eggs, salt, cinnamon powder and 1 tsp vanilla and stir well to properly blend the batter.

While regular bakers now have a preheated oven, the first timers can start heating their oven now. Continue by greasing the pan of your choice. For me, I used as a rectangular, 9 x 13 inch pan for the first cake. Sprinkle the greased pan with flour. Alternately, we can use a waxed parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. This is simple and what I always do. Then carefully pour the batter into the pan.

In the preheated oven with 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C setting, position the pan in the middle portion and bake the batter. Baking could last up to around 35~45 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick in the middle portion of the cake. When it comes clear, the cake is done. Experts can determine it by the mere smell coming out from the oven.

While the first cake is baking, I prepared the second batter. This time I used a round pan. Following the exact procedures above, my second cake is ready to be baked just before the first cake is done baking.

The next stage is to make the ganache frosting. In a sauce pan, combine ½ cup butter, ¼ cup cocoa powder and ¼ cup milk and bring to a boil. Just as it starts to boil, remove the pan from heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar. Blend properly until a thick homogenous mixture is attained. Add in the 1 tsp vanilla extract and continue stirring. If you like nuts, you can add a cup of any chopped nuts into the mixture at this time.

Prepare your cake layer for frosting application. Some will find this stage as a lot of fun. This actually determines how the cake will look like and quite important. Carefully pour and manually spread the frosting over the still slightly hot cake. How to make your cake fancy and appealing is depending on your talent to decorate the cake. I think I don’t have that skill yet. But who knows, next time might be a little better. Just, maybe. :)

That’s pretty it. Your chocolate cake version 1 is ready (version 2 coming). It might just be plain and simple looking but I tell you, it’s really delicious.

Actually, it is pitted against a really gorgeous store-bought fruit cake during the affair.

Which do you think was eaten first? Yes, my chocolate cake. And everyone likes it more than the other. The fruit cake is also good, but quite too sweet for most of us. The group’s acceptance to my chocolate cake just gave me enough reasons to bake more often. You, too...........try it. c”,)

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