JUST FOR FUN
No witty tales of life growing up in that Florida town in the shadow of space ships, ocean waves gently lapping around our ankles. No heartrending stories of boys grown into adolescence, struggling with parental ineptitude and our “Dark Ages” way of thinking. No starry-eyed love lore, no mad search for once-familiar, now-foreign food ingredients, no personal ramblings.
This week was taken up by moving companies and window washers, cleaning frenzies and school news. And just as I was almost finished posting the recipe for my luscious apple pie, story and all, blogger crashed.
Tomorrow we leave on a long weekend, one night in a romantic inn, dinner at one of the best tables in France, followed by a weekend in Brittany with friends. So no time to rework, repost, rewhatever. I just want to get something delicious posted here to calm my girlfriends’ anticipation and chocolate lust. I am not the woman to bake a cake and then leave company, friends, waiting, fork in hand, coffee getting cold, while I wander off and do laundry or walk the dog.
So here is a gentle interlude, something just for fun. A Checkerboard Cake, vanilla and chocolate together, covered with our favorite, perfect chocolate buttercream frosting.
So sit back and enjoy something just for fun.
From Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible (because her recipes are too perfect to change)
3 oz (85 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) milk
1 Tbs vanilla
4 cups (400 g) cake flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar
2 Tbs (30 g) baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, softened
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Grease (butter) and flour your nifty new special Checkerboard cake pans (3) that you just bought in NYC.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave. I always take the chocolate off the heat (or out of the microwave) before the chocolate is fully melted, then stir vigorously until completely melted and smooth. This will keep your chocolate from burning as well as start the cooling process. Allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, ¼ of the milk and the vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the softened butter and the rest of the milk and mix on low speed until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium (high speed for a hand-held mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes to aerate. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 additions, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Divide the batter in approximately half. I used a kitchen scale for this as I usually judge badly.
Stir the melted chocolate into the smaller batch of batter until well blended and uniform in color.
If you have 2 pastry bags and handle them better than I can, fit each with a large round tube and fill each one with one of the two batters.
Place the divider rings in the first pan and pipe the batter (or use spoons) into each section, alternating batter colors. The batter should fill the pan half full. Using a small, narrow metal spatula or the back of a small spoon, smooth the batter so there are no gaps or seams.
Carefully lift out the divider and rinse it off.
When piping batter for the next layer, alternate batter colors (if you started with yellow on the outer ring on the first, start with chocolate on the outside ring on the next). For the third layer, I had more chocolate batter left than yellow, so I ended up with two layers chocolate-yellow-chocolate and one yellow-chocolate-yellow.
Bake the layers 25 minutes until risen and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. The cake will start to shrink away from the sides of the pan only after being removed from the oven.
As I have only one of those rinky-dink French ovens, I had to bake one layer at a time. While each layer was baking, I kept the remaining batter in the refrigerator.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a metal spatula and carefully flip them out of the pans, reinverting them right side up again to cool completely.
FAVORITE SIMPLE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
Double recipe :
12 ounces (350 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 tablespoons (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons very hot water
Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and the powdered sugar together. Add the cocoa powder and the hot water and beat, scraping down the sides as necessary, until well blended and fluffy.
Assemble the Checkerboard Cake :
Stack the 3 layers, alternating color combinations, using a thin coating of buttercream between each to adhere the layers without disturbing the checkerboard effect.
Frost the sides and then the top of the cake with the rest of the Chocolate Buttercream.