Seriously Chocolate Cake
Bake the chocolate cake and make the ganache the day before you plan to decorate the cake. Make the butter cream when you are ready to decorate the cake.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, room temperature
4 cups sugar
8 eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups Dutch-process cocoa, such as Ghiradelli’s
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 cups whole milk
24 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
To make cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms of 5 9- or 10-inch round cake pans, line with parchment or waxed paper rounds cut to fit, and butter the tops of the paper liners. (3 10-inch cake pans may be used for thicker layers.) “This cake is too moist and fudgy to split after
baking like most other cakes. That is the reason for baking 5 thin layers,” according to Woodford.
Cream butter or margarine with sugar until fluffy. Add yolks, and blend well.
Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder.
Add alternately milk and dry mixture to the creamed mixture. (“This can be messy. Go slowly, and scrape down the bowl often,” Woodford advises.) Beat until well-blended, at least 2 minutes. The batter at this stage may seem thin.
Whip the whites to medium-soft peaks. Do not over whip or the cake will be rubbery. Fold the whites into the chocolate batter.
Bake until the cakes test clean, 20 to 30 minutes. At 15 minutes, rotate cakes on top rack to bottom, back to front, to ensure even baking. Note the stage of doneness and judge the rest of baking time accordingly. Cake is done when center no longer jiggles and the sides pull away slightly from edge of pan.
Cool cakes in pan for 15 minutes. Turn out onto cardboard cake circles or regular plates covered with wax paper. Remove the paper liners while cakes are still warm. When cakes are completely cool, place them in the freezer
To make ganache: Place chocolate in large bowl.
Heat cream until nearly boiling. Pour cream over chocolate, and let stand 5 minutes.
Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
Let ganache cool completely, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature overnight.
To make butter cream: Combine sugar, water and cream of tartar in a small saucepan. Using a candy thermometer, boil to 240 degrees or soft-ball stage.
Whip whites to stiff, not dry, peaks. With the mixer on high speed, pour the boiling syrup gradually into the whipping whites. Be careful. The sugar syrup may splatter, and this type of burn really hurts.
Continue to whip the sugar and whites until the mixture is completely cool.
To check, stop the mixer and with a clean finger feel into the middle of the mixture. It must feel tepid.
When mixture is cool, add the butter in chunks with the mixer on high.
“This may look bad at first,” Woodford warns. “The butter cream may look broken. Keep mixing until smooth and fluffy.”
Add 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache with the mixer on medium speed, and beat to blend evenly.
Assembly: Remove all five chocolate cake layers from the freezer. Choose one to be the bottom. Spread a thin layer of ganache on that – “just a coating,” Woodford explains. Spread a layer of chocolate butter cream, about 1/4 of the total, on the ganache, leaving ½ inch around the outside of each layer so that the butter cream does not leak out. Repeat these steps 3 more times.
Place the fifth layer on top of the final layer of butter cream. You now have a very tall, towering cake. Woodford suggests chilling the cake in the refrigerator to make the final decorating easier.
While the cake is chilling, make sure your ganache is soft enough to work with. It should be easy to spread. If it is too cold, whisk the ganache over warm water until it is easy to spread. Be careful not to get any water in
When the cake is chilled, spread a light, smooth layer of the ganache around the sides and over the top of the cake. If you have enough ganache left, chill the cake between coats and then apply more ganache.
Use any extra butter cream to decorate the top of the cake.
This rich cake, sliced thinly will serve 16 or more. Woodford suggests that a cool cake and a warm knife give the cleanest cuts. Chill cake in refrigerator until serving, and warm the knife in hot tap water, cleaning
and rewarming between slices.