Saturday, March 25, 2017

Chocolate Little Layer Cake

Back in January, one of my dear besties tagged me in a Food Network video of a 24-layer cake, and asked if I would make it for her birthday.  I knew she was kidding, because she is easy to please with just a one layer cake.  Two years ago I did a 3-layer lemon raspberry cake for her birthday and it came out great and she was very glad.  So she didn't mean that it had to be 24 layers.  But it seemed a little bit like a dare to me.  And I am very competitive. didn't look THAT hard in the video.  And when watching it, you can see they have been a bit deceptive, because it's 12 layers of cake and 12 layers of frosting, for a total of 24 layers.  So I definitely thought I could do that.  However, they did not attach a recipe to the video (probably too afraid of the competition hahaha) so I had to go searching for one on the Interwebs.  I found this one from the New York Times website.  They make you sign up for their newsletter to click on a recipe more than twice (which I had to) so that was annoying, but it used basic ingredients and techniques that I felt pretty confident about, so this is the one I went with.  And now that I'm done I can unsubscribe.

This turns out to not be a one person job.  At least, not this one person.  Even though it was her birthday cake, Barbie actually had to do a lot of this with me (happy birthday dear Barbie, make your own birthday cake....).  She had to make the frosting while I was furiously trying to keep up with the layers. 

I also had 3 guest photographers for this recipe because it was so challenging I couldn't keep up with my photodocumentation and do all these steps at once...and when you get to the part of the recipe where I add in the dry ingredients for the cake mix, you can see my (soon to be) patented Gluten Defense System...I don't want to be breathing that stuff in....

If I had to do this over again, I would do some things differently.  Live and learn.  Here we go...

Chocolate Little Layer Cake
For the cake:
2 sticks butter, more to grease pans (I just greased my pans with shortening shhhhh)

2 ½ cups sugar
cup shortening
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups cake flour (yup I bought this...I wanted it to be just right)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups milk

For the icing:
5 cups of sugar
cup cocoa
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 15-ounce can evaporated milk
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease three 9-inch cake pans and line with rounds of parchment or waxed paper.

In a mixer, cream together butter, sugar and shortening until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time and continue to mix on medium until eggs are well incorporated. Stir in vanilla.

Sift flour (I never do was fine), then add salt, baking soda and baking powder. Sift a second time (or don't). With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and milk in about 4 additions,

then increase speed to medium. Beat until smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl.

Spread 3/4 cup batter in each pan.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until cake springs lightly when pressed with a finger. Flip cake out of pan onto paper towels or cake rack while still very warm.

Repeat with second set of layers.

When first layers go into oven, start to make icing. Put sugar and cocoa in a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan and mix well. Turn heat to medium-high and add butter and milks, bringing to a boil. Boil for about 4 minutes, stirring continually, careful to watch that it does not boil over. Lower heat to simmer, add vanilla and stir occasionally for another 7 to 10 minutes. If using a candy thermometer, cook to the point just before soft ball stage or about 230 degrees (this seemed to take forever and need almost constant attention.  Thus, Barbie being recruited to make her own birthday cake).

Begin icing first layers, still warm, when second batch is in the oven. Flip layers over so that top side faces up. Use about 4 tablespoons of icing per layer.

Icing will be thin but will firm up as it cools. Stack layers, then continue icing and stacking as layers are baked.

When all layers are iced and stacked, glaze top and sides of cake. Contours of layers will be visible through icing. If icing hardens too much while frosting cake, set back on low heat and stir until it is spreadable.

That's the end of the recipe.  But I didn't like how it looked like a stack of pancakes with chocolate syrup.  Anticipating this from the picture with the recipe, which did look a bit wonky, I bought a jar of Duncan Hines Whipped chocolate frosting so I could finish it off to look like a regular birthday cake.  The frosting between the layers seemed to keep seeping out, so we put the whole thing in the fridge to halt it's descent.
One thing I would do differently in the unlikely event that I would ever make this again would be to make the frosting first...that took so long!  And then I was turning layers and layers of cake out of the oven, running out of places to put them, but couldn't stack and frost them because the frosting wasn't done and I was beginning to feel claustrophobic
A cool thing that of our layers looked like Saturn.  I totally did not plan that but thought it was awesome
A friend present at home fellowship (where this cake was served) took these action shots of the cake, including the moment when I lit it on fire in frustration. HA!  Just kidding.  It was when we were singing Happy Birthday.  I include it to lend an air of authenticity to the blog post.

Don't you need a nap just from reading that??  Barbie's daughter asked if I would make this for her birthday...I said when is that...she said May.  I said no, I need longer to recover from this one......but I love her so if she really wants that I will.  But I'm hoping to talk her into a cheesecake or something instead.

I am not sorry that I made turned out very nice looking.  And, from what I heard, nice tasting...not much was left on people's paper plates.  This kind of stuff is fun to do once in a while.  A great while.  And friends like Barbie don't come around every day was worth it.

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