Monday, July 4, 2011

Four Layer Chocolate Raspberry Cake

This weekend's dessert experiment was a four layer chocolate raspberry cake.  I used the fail-safe Real Simple magazine chocolate cake recipe and chose the chocolate sour cream frosting.  I wanted to do something different with the filling, but wanted to make sure I used a fresh produce item, so I found this recipe for fresh raspberry filling

I split the cake making process into two days so that I wouldn't be running around my kitchen screaming this morning.  Yesterday, I made the cakes and the filling.  I've always read about the need for butter and eggs to be at room temperature for baking, but never bothered to consider why.  Just so you know, according to Joy of Cooking, having butter at room temperature allows for the butter to be properly aerated, which helps with the leavening process.  So, if you want light and fluffy cakes, let your butter and eggs sit out awhile.  Mine hung out on the kitchen counter at least an hour before I started the batter.

Layers, pre-splitting.
While the cakes were baking, I made the raspberry filling.  In hindsight, I didn't need the whole recipe - halving it would have been more than sufficient.  When cooled, both the cakes and the filling went in the fridge overnight.

This morning, I made the chocolate icing.  I melted a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler.  A double boiler is an insert you place over a shallow pan of simmering (not boiling!) water.  This way, you can melt the chocolate without scalding or burning it.  If you don't have a double boiler, you can also use a metal mixing bowl - just be careful lifting it off the pot of hot water.  I'm shocked I've never spilled molten chocolate or 150 degree water on myself pre-double boiler.

Melting chocolate in a double boiler.
One issue I have with recipes featuring sour cream is that we always have some left over, and we rarely, if ever use it.  So, for the icing, I decided to sub something we always have in the house and eat frequently, Fage Greek Yogurt.  The tang and consistency is similar to that of sour cream, so it worked just fine for the icing.  Considering that there were three (yes three) cups of confectioners sugar in the icing, it definitely needed something to cut the sweetness.

Since we had oodles of filling, I decided to split the layers on the cake.  To do this, I used a cake leveler.  I've split layers with a bread knife before, but a cake leveler gives you much more precision, and it's only $3.29.  So, if you think you'll be baking a decent amount, it's not a bad investment.  You can also use it to level out the tops of a cake if you are putting a lot of care into decorating it, but, given that it takes all of my precision not to drop the frosting on the floor before it gets to the cake, I don't bother.  I did make one of the layers much thinner than I intended, but once it's in the middle of the cake and iced, no one needs to know . . .

Cake in cross section.
One smarty pants thing I did this time, per the suggestion on the packaging for the cake leveler, was to put some waxed paper under the edges of the cake as I filled and iced it.  When I was done, I removed the wax paper and there was no evidence of my usual dripping and spattering.

I garnished the cake with fresh raspberries and stuck it in the fridge for awhile so it could handle the car ride and being out on the table.

The verdict - nice and chocolately, but not overly sweet.

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