Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

Welcome to the premier post of The Lunchbox Tree!  This is my outlet to post the recipes I try out, as well as discuss all things food.  As I begin posting, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback.

For the first recipe of the blog, I really wanted to share something decadently delicious.  Luckily, I had to look no further than the June 2010 issue of Bon Appétit to find that inspiration.  I made this cake for a coworker's birthday, to rave reviews.  This is, hands down, one of the best cakes I've ever eaten.

The cake itself is rich, chocolatey, and not-too-sweet.  It's layered with seedless raspberry jam (although I think that seeded raspberry jam would be delicious) and a rich chocolate ganache, and topped with fresh raspberries.  Bon Appétit topped their version with powdered sugar, but I thought that the cake was too pretty to mess with once its crown of raspberries was in place.

I've made other minor modifications:  I used closer to 10 tablespoons of raspberry jam, and I added 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the jam for an added floral note. I also used a heaping 3/4 cup of cocoa powder in the cake, as opposed to a level 3/4 cup.

Without further adieu, here's the recipe:

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake
Bon Appétit June 2010

Vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (Kelci's note: I used King Arthur's white whole wheat flour) 
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Kelci's note: I used a heaping 3/4 c.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Ganache and Jam:
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided (Kelci's note: I used 10 T. jam plus 1/2 t. vanilla extract, mixed well) 
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar (Kelci's note: I omitted this.  I definitely did not miss the additional sweetness.)

Preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with oil or nonstick spray. (Kelci's note: I used regular 9 inch cake pans without an issue.)  Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature.

Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry topping:
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups ganache to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top (Kelci's note: I used 5 T.) . Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly. Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.  (Kelci's tip:  Keep cake stored in the refrigerator to fight humidity; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.) 

Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. If desired, sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.

Read more at Bon Appétit

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