So, here it goes, my first “real” post since my two year hiatus!
Well, last month my Grandma, who we lovingly call Grammy, celebrated her 85th birthday! We had a family celebration with my parents, sister, uncles, aunts, and cousins — very lovely!
As soon as we knew we were planning a party, I knew that I wanted to bake her a cake. So, inspired by Picky Cook and Smitten Kitchen, I decided I would tackle a chocolate layer cake with ganache frosting.
Now, I love to bake, and I’ve done it some in the past, just not all that often, especially since I’ve been on Weight Watchers. And it’s usually my mom or my sister doing the baking for family get-togethers. So, I definitely knew this was going to be a challenge! But, not only was I up for it — I was excited for the (hopefully) delicious end result!
I did swap apricot preserve filling for Picky Cook’s / Smitten Kitchen’s various raspberry fillings for personal taste. Though in hindsight, orange probably would have been equally delicious, if not better! The orange kind of reminds me of one of my favorite Kosher for Passover desserts my grandma always has — chocolate covered orange peals. And then you could have dressed it up with candied orange rinds on top!
Anyways, on to the actual recipe at hand . . . here’s what I did (essentially Picky Cook’s recipe with a few tweaks of my own):
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Ingredients – For Cake Layers
- 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli from Whole Foods because that’s what I could get nearby)
- 1½ cups hot brewed coffee (Since I don’t drink coffee and therefore don’t have a coffee pot, I got a tall Americano from the local Starbuck’s down the street)
- 3 cups sugar
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder – not Dutch process (I got mine from Trader Joe’s – not sure if that’s Dutch process or not, but it didn’t negatively affect the taste)
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup applesauce (substituted for ¼ cup vegetable oil)
- 1½ cup vegetable oil
- 1½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
- ¾ tsp. vanilla
- butter (for buttering pans)
Ingredients – For Apricot Preserve Filling
- 1 jar apricot preserves
- 1/8 cup water
Ingredients – For Ganache Frosting
- ½ pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used 7.06 oz Sirius Bittersweet Chocolate and 1oz Ghirardelli Semisweet Chocolate – left over from the chocolate bar in the cake layers)
- ½ cup heavy cream (I accidentally bought “heavy whipping cream” which is apparently the same thing, but be careful and read the label so you get the right thing!)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Special Equipment and Helpful Tools
- Two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans (I used two 9-inch and baked them a few minutes longer)
- Angled Spatula (like this one by Wilton)
- 2 rounds of parchment paper (for the bottom of each pan)
- Set of mixing bowls
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Making the Cake Layers
- Preheat the oven to 300F and butter pan
- Line bottoms of pans with rounds of parchment paper
- Butter again and dust both pans with cocoa powder. Tap and swirl around the cocoa to lightly coat the pans.
- Finely chop chocolate and in a smaller mixing bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- In a large bowl sift together:
- cocoa powder
- baking soda
- baking powder
- In another mixing bowl, with an electic mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemoned colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).
- Slowly add the following to egg mixture, beating until combined well:
- melted chocolate mixture
- Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combine well.
- Divide the batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester (I use a toothpick) inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Cool layers completely in pans on racks.
- Run a thin knife (I used the angled spatula) around the edges of pans and invert layers onto racks.
- Carefully remove parchment paper and cool layers completely
Note: Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at temperature.
Preparing the Apricot Preserves Filling
- Empty entire jar of preserves and 1/8 cup of water into saucepan
- Heat in saucepan, stirring constantly until jam loosens
- Divide mixture into 3 parts
- Cool and get ready to put it on the cake
Preparing the Ganache Frosting
- Finely chop chocolate
- Add the following to a small saucepan:
- heavy cream
- corn syrup
- Bring those 3 things to a boil, over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Add chocolate
- Whisk until chocolate is melted
- Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting.
- Whist until smooth
- Transfer to a bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable
Assembling the Cake – Part 1: Slicing the Layers and Adding the Filling
- With a long serated knife, slice each cake into 2 layers
- Lay the bottom layer on your cake stand (I used a cardboard circle covered with tin foil)
- Take 1/3 of the apricot filling and spread it over the layer
*stay about ½ and inch away from the edge
- Place the next layer on top
- Spread another 1/3 of the apricot filling on top
- Place the third layer on the cake and the last of the apricot filling
- Put the final layer of the cake on top
- Gently make sure that all the layers line up.
Assembling the Cake – Part 2: The Ganache Frosting
- Pour some of the ganache in the middle of the top layer
- Using your offset spatula, start smoothing out the frosting, gently pushing it towards the edge
- Add more ganache until you have worked the ganache down over the sides of the cake
Love you Grammy! Happy 85 years young! ♥