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Chocolate Cake

IMG_6137

This is a recipe from Bon Appetit for Chocolate Cake. What sets this cake apart is the method of preparation. When I read the directions I really wanted to give it a try, I have a simple chocolate cake recipe that I have been using for years and it’s fantastic, it’s a very old recipe from Hershey’s and it’s right on their can of unsweetened cocoa. I love it and have never deviated or tried another recipe, it’s that good.

The method of preparation is the brainchild of the great Rose Levy Beranbaum, she is amazing and I have several of her cookbooks but missed this and it took Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit to bring it to life. I will let her explain why this method is so genius.

Contrary to the traditional method of creaming the butter and sugar before adding eggs and wet and dry ingredients, reverse creaming does pretty much the opposite. The dry ingredients and sugar are mixed with the fat (oil and butter) plus some of the wet ingredients (eggs + buttermilk + melted chocolate + coffee). The fat coats the dry ingredients and inhibits gluten formation, which would normally result in a tough cake, while the addition of some moisture simultaneously develops just enough gluten to give the cake structure. It’s hard to overmix with this method, giving you a tender crumb. Because there’s less air in the batter due to no creaming, the layers bake evenly and stack up without the need to level or trim. It’s the perfect method for building a layer cake.

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Batter is thick and creamy

Batter is thick and creamy

Cake

Bon Appetit by Claire Saffitz adapted from a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2½ cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter two 9″-diameter cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  • Heat chocolate, coffee, and ⅔ cup cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water (water should not touch bottom of bowl), stirring until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Let cool, then whisk eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla into chocolate mixture.
  • Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix salt, baking powder, baking soda, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl just to combine. Add brown sugar, oil, ½ cup butter, and ½ cup reserved chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed until flour is evenly distributed and mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add remaining chocolate mixture in 2 additions, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed and beating until smooth after each addition. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  • Bake cake until top is firm to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30–40 minutes. Transfer cake pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
cake sunk in the middle

cake sunk in the middle

nice rise

nice rise

Tomorrow I will frost and taste the cake but have to to say so far I am not in love with it, it took longer to bake than the directions, now that could be my wonky oven that I had repaired to tide me over until I get my new stove. So that could have been a factor but the cake feels drier than my go to Hershey’s cake, I tend to like layer and cupcakes that use oil rather than butter, I find the crumb is perfect, they are light and moist. This cake feels more like a brownie that is a bit overdone. I also like that the Hershey’s recipe is one bowl, super fast and easy. This was not difficult but had steps that I normally don’t have to do. It is possible I did something wrong or it was my oven so I cannot say with certainty that there is a flaw in the recipe.

The proof will be in the tasting so stay tuned because tomorrow I will frost and try the cake.

Full disclosure: I got distracted and forgot to add the vanilla.

 

66 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oooh…. I could just sit down with the bowl of batter and eat it uncooked! Can’t wait to see the fantastic frosted finale! Mega hugs!

    September 12, 2015
    • Well I have it wrapped and will frost tomorrow. The crumbs taste good. Thanks Teagan!

      September 12, 2015
  2. Wonderful ! I must try it – what a perfume – thank you apuginthekitchen !!! 🙂

    September 12, 2015
    • Thank you, it does smell chocolatey and good. Can’t wait to try tomorrow!

      September 12, 2015
  3. AH, can’t wait to hear your results! What stove/oven have you chosen, any yet? Cheryl

    September 12, 2015
    • I have an appointment in a little while and it’s looking grey and overcast outside so will frost and taste tomorrow. Yes, I have made a decision on the stove, will be ordering it soon and will have it soon. Even with the new computer the old one is still not performing well.

      September 12, 2015
  4. Vanilla does make a difference in the taste but your pictures would have never told that secret! 🙂

    September 12, 2015
    • Yes so true. I don’t think it made a difference in texture or baking but that could really have been my oven. It is much heavier than what I am used to but I think it tastes good.

      September 12, 2015
  5. Yeah can’t wait to see the frosted version! Love your honest assessment of the recipe 🙂 Hope it turns out!

    September 12, 2015
    • Me too, I just put a thermometer in the oven and am testing for temperature right now. I want to be perfectly fair and if it was a mistake on my part or my oven I will let you all know. I have the cake wrapped and will frost it later. Thank you so much!

      September 12, 2015
    • Well tested the oven and it runs 2 degrees hotter that’s pretty minimal.

      September 12, 2015
      • Yeah sounds like a recipe issue probably… hmmm.. brownie-cake with frosting can still be good though!! 🙂

        September 12, 2015
      • It sure can thanks.

        September 12, 2015
  6. I will wait for your verdict tomorrow Suzanne. I like chocolate cake and less step easy recipes catch my attention. Will go with your word.

    September 12, 2015
    • We will see tomorrow, I am making a dulce de leche buttercream which should go nicely on the cake. I hope it’s not so dry it chokes. LOL thanks Sonal will post in the morning.

      September 12, 2015
  7. Hi Suzanne, I will tune in tomorrow for the final results. Very interested!

    September 12, 2015
  8. Interesting technique. Personally I prefer flourless chocolate cake. I even have a recipe that doesn’t require melting the chocolate, but uses the heat of coffee instead.

    September 12, 2015
  9. Thank you. Always open to a new way. I’ll have to give this a try.

    September 12, 2015
  10. The cake looks lovely Suzanne! quite an interesting technique, Cant wait to see the frosted cake !

    September 12, 2015
    • It is an interesting technique which is why I was drawn to it. We will see tomorrow how it is. Thanks Freda.

      September 12, 2015
  11. I finally found some time between all of the work travel lately to catch up and yourss was the first post I saw. What a beautiful cake! Thank you for including some of the baking science. I always wondered why the order of ingredients was so important if everything just ended up together anyway. Now I know. This cake is probably fool proof. Thank you for sharing.

    September 12, 2015
    • Thanks Amanda, my regular go to chocolate cake is fool proof, we’ll see about this one. It has more steps which is ok and I love the science behind it. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow.

      September 12, 2015
  12. So interesting!! Now I have to try it too!! Thanks, Suzanne. 🙂

    September 12, 2015
  13. Both cakes look delicious.
    I’ve tried this method once. I don’t recall there was such a big difference so I was back to my regular recipes. Now I’m curious about your experiment and results.
    By the way, using low gluten (i.e. cake flour) also helps control over-mixing.

    September 12, 2015
    • This is my first time using this method and I probably will have to agree with you that there is very little discernable difference in the cake. Yes you are right also about using low gluten flour. My hershey’s recipe is always tender and always delicious and I get the same results each and every time. I liked how this cake had butter and oil (the flavor of butter is wonderful) but it took too long to bake which produced over done edges and I am worried about a dry cake. We’ll see today. Thanks Ronit.

      September 13, 2015
      • Thanks for the update, Suzanne. I’m to hear it wasn’t anything I did wrong and that you too felt the same about it. 🙂

        September 13, 2015
  14. Looks delicious, and I really like the fact that it bakes evenly without need for trimming when stacking layers.

    September 12, 2015
    • Well I think it would have baked evenly if I hadn’t tested the cake I guess at a critical point. The cooking time was off for me and I tested the cake at 35 minutes it was still like soup and deflated so the middle of the cake sunk. It would be good to have a cake that doesn’t need to be trimmed though thanks so much.

      September 13, 2015
  15. So the jury is still out there. I look forward to the verdict tomorrow! 😜

    September 13, 2015
    • Yes I am making the frosting this morning and testing the cake. Thanks Francesca.;

      September 13, 2015
  16. Can’t wait to hear how it tastes! I have been looking for a recipe like this for a while.

    September 13, 2015
  17. It is a delicious cake. May try this method to see the result. Thanks! 🙂

    September 13, 2015
    • Please do I wish everyone would try that would let me know if it was me or the recipe because my results were not great at least on the visual end. Thanks Mochi

      September 13, 2015
  18. I was wondering why your cake looked so different! I’m just going through Yahoo from the most recent email, which is why I read your penuche frosting post first. Actually, the cake I’ve just made isn’t dissimilar as the butter is melted and added to the flour and stuff, something I don’t think I’ve done before. My cake is a lot more basic though. This one does sound really nice, with all of those ingredients. Always so intrigued by the differing techniques.

    September 13, 2015
    • Yes me to, the method intrigued me so I had to give it a try. I am not sure there is a discernable difference but the recipe does produce a delicious cake. It doesn’t look very good but that could have been due to my terrible oven. Did you notice a difference when you did reverse creaming?

      September 14, 2015
      • Yes, it’s very easy to make. And less cleaning, which is always a plus. The batter is much more like shortbread. The drawback is needing to add a considerable amount of fruit to keep this from being brick-like! 🙂

        September 14, 2015
      • Like a fruit cake, which reminds me I have to start thinking Holiday baking and I will make several fruit cakes soaked in cognac this year.

        September 14, 2015
      • Still haven’t made a fruit cake. Really must this year as they’re a favourite. I’m literally having another slice of mine, with an Earl Grey, and it’s not bad. Pleased the cake’s storing quite well.

        September 14, 2015
      • I found a great fruit cake recipe last year people just loved it and I will do it again this year. A slice of cake with Earl Grey sounds really good to me!

        September 14, 2015
      • Looking forward to your post. Or have you posted the recipe already? The Matriarch made the best fruit cakes I’ve ever had. Probably her speciality. They were often almost black and bathed regularly in whiskey and/or brandy. I used to do the Christmas cake for her. And she always kept an apple in the tin.

        September 14, 2015
  19. It’s always interesting to try a new method/recipe, but reassuring to know that you have a much loved recipe up your sleeve, that you know works each and every time! Sounds like the Hershey recipe wins out this time… 🙂

    September 13, 2015
    • The Hershey’s recipe is a no fail, super simple cake recipe and I still love for it’s ease and great results. Thanks so much Margot.

      September 14, 2015
  20. OK, you’re convincing me Suzanne– I’m a habitual cake mix baker– concentrating on really good frosting to save the day. But this does loo luscious. Maybe i can venture out… You are an amazing cook!

    September 13, 2015
    • Cake mix cakes are wonderful, I have not used them for many years but they always produced a wonderful cake. The frosting is what makes it special. Thanks so much.

      September 14, 2015
      • Maybe it’s because all the years we lived in Spain, I had to make cakes from scratch– and the flour there is great for bread, but heavy for cakes. So when we came back to cake-mix-land, they seemed to light and tender, I was hooked! (but I do agree some cakes– fruity ones and spongey cakes are best from scratch! Love your blog, friend.

        September 15, 2015
  21. You are really torturing us all with this one. Would love a slice of this to go with my tea right now. Let me know if you are interested in guest blogging for surreyKitchen in the future. I’m sure our readers would love your baking. Emma xx

    September 14, 2015
  22. Well as you can tell Suzanne I going backwards in my emails LOL
    I really have to try this cake too, yummy!! 🙂

    September 14, 2015
  23. Love the kitchen alchemy lesson. So interesting. Also reading in reverse order so I saw the final gorgeous outcome!

    September 14, 2015
    • Thanks Lindy, it was a lesson for me. I love learning new methods and this was a bit hair raising but the final outcome was good.

      September 14, 2015
  24. OMG Suzanne, I’ve posted about this recipe and only tried it once. I loved every bit of it, but I had a chocolate ganache on top of it. I made it for my mom’s birthday but honestly I think I made it just for me LOL. I can’t wait to read the next post now.

    September 14, 2015
  25. Of course, we foodies know that cooking is a science. Nevertheless, I love hearing more about scientific cooking. Very interesting! You are right about perfect shape for stacking.
    Change of subject… I found round cake cooling racks at amazon, but they’re not as cool as yours. May I ask where you got yours from? 🙂

    September 15, 2015
    • Thank you Fae I can’t remember where I got them have had them a very long time and loves them. If I can remember I will let you know and thanks so much!

      September 15, 2015
  26. Suzanne – I’ve never mixed a cake in this order before – I love your scientific explanation and I am definitely going to try it!! I have made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s blueberry pie. Your cake looks just perfect!!

    September 17, 2015
    • Thanks so much Mary Frances. It was a first for me and the cake was great!

      September 17, 2015
  27. I love learning about the chemistry behind why things do what they do when baking. This is so interesting! I have a chocolate cake recipe that is similar to this recipe, but there are a few differences and the method is different. I am anxious to read your post to see if you liked it!

    September 28, 2015

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