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The perfect, classic chocolate layer cake

To end a meal with any type of chocolate creation- whether a cake, a mousse or some other treat- is heavenly.  This chocolate cake recipe is just right- not too rich, sweet or dense.

Given I am not a big fan of over sweet and abundant frosting, my cakes tend to be iced in the middle layer(s) and then on top only, leaving the sides naked (actually called a “naked cake”).  I also prefer a meringue buttercream rather than pure buttercream frosting.  The meringue creates a smooth, silky texture that is not over powering.

 

The perfect, classic chocolate layer cake

To end a meal with any type of chocolate creation- whether a cake, a mousse or some other treat- is heavenly.  This chocolate cake recipe is just right- not too rich, sweet or dense.

Given I am not a big fan of over sweet and abundant frosting, my cakes tend to be iced in the middle layer(s) and then on top only, leaving the sides naked (actually called a “naked cake”).  I also prefer a meringue buttercream rather than pure buttercream frosting.  The meringue creates a smooth, silky texture that is not over powering.

 

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Ingredients

Recipe serves: 8
cake
2 cups (500g) sugar
1 cup (250g) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups cake (315g) flour, plus 1 tablespoon for cake pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz (125g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) boiling water
icing
1/2 cup (125ml) egg whites
1 cup (250g) sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 340g) unsalted, room temperature butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional decoration)
garnish
optional seasonal fresh fruit, to serve
optional: 2 tablespoons cocoa powder or confectionary sugar for decorating plates
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thoughts&stories

For egg whites to properly fluff up or whip together, you need to avoid any cross over with any type of fat or grease.  Make sure you have no yolks in the whites and that your bowls and utensils are very clean.  I usually pour boiling water into the mixing bowl and over the utensil and then dry well with a clean towel before using.

In my meringue recipe, I also give tips on making the perfect meringue and whipping egg whites.

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The perfect, classic chocolate layer cake
  • time
    1 hour
  • serves
    8
  • skill level
    Medium

Ingredients

  • cake

  • icing

  • garnish

Directions

1
Done

cake

Preheat oven to 350F(180C) and position rack in middle of oven.

2
Done

Butter two 9 inch (23cm) round cake pans, line pans with parchment paper. Butter paper and dust paper and sides with flour.

3
Done

Place the chopped chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over the chocolate. Stir to melt and set aside to cool.

4
Done

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

5
Done

In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy in consistency- about 5 minutes.

6
Done

Pour in the vanilla and eggs, mix, and then beat in the cooled chocolate. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

7
Done

Gently fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until almost fully incorporated. Fold in 1/3 of the buttermilk. Continue to add 1/3 dry followed by 1/3 buttermilk until all ingredients are folded together.

8
Done

In a very clean bowl of the electric mixer using whisk attachment, add the egg whites. Beat until the whites form medium peaks, about 3-4 minutes.

9
Done

Fold the egg whites gently into the batter until no white appears.

10
Done

Pour batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly (or you can weigh each one to assure equality).

11
Done

Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

12
Done

Transfer to wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.

13
Done

Invert slightly cooled cakes onto wire rack, peel off parchment paper. Cover with a slightly damp cloth to assure cakes do not dry out.

14
Done

icing

Place the egg whites and sugar into the very clean bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment. Blend together to combine- 1 minute.

15
Done

Fill a saucepan (medium size) with a few inches of water and place over medium-high heat. Place the bowl of the electric mixer on top of saucepan- you are creating a double broiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch to water.

16
Done

Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it is hot to the touch (or use a candy thermometer until registers 160F or 70C).

17
Done

Place mixing bowl back underneath electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes. It should form medium-stiff peaks. Swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.

18
Done

With mixer on low speed, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time until all blended. Add the vanilla and mix until silky smooth, 4-5 minutes. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

19
Done

assemble

Place bottom half on cake on serving plate. Generously frost the top of this bottom layer. Place other layer on top and frost. This is a naked cake and it is only the middle layer and top layer which require frosting.

20
Done

When ready to serve, plate each slice, using a sieve sprinkle each piece with either confectionary sugar or cocoa powder, garnish with fruit and serve.