5/26/15

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Hi Friends,

How are you? How did you spend your long weekend? Matt, Teddy, and I decided to take it easy. Apart from making this cake, we went for a few walks and napped. Sunday was Mavis’s birthday (she’s 3!) so we spent a lot of that day singing her “Happy Birthday” because once you finish singing a song, Teddy does the sign language sign for “more,” which is really hard to say no to.

After Teddy went to sleep, Matt and I watched a lot of television. We started the Netflix series, Chef’s Table, which I initially wasn't interested in at all because I thought it was yet another culinary-based television show. (I think I might have even thought it was a competition?) But we are 2.5 episodes in and it’s been fantastic, even dare-I-say-it inspiring, especially the one on Dan Barber (although I am a bit worried about Barber’s overall well-being and stress levels). We also watched the movie, Blue is the Warmest Color, which I loved. There was something so insanely refreshing about watching a film that moved so slowly and where the main character, who is a teenager, actually looks like a teenager and who isn’t caked in makeup. I also finished listening to Amy Poehler’s book, which I mostly really enjoyed, and of which I feel like I took away three main points about her life. One: Wow, she really didn’t enjoy the process of writing her book. Two: Wow, she smoked (smokes?) a lot of pot. And three: She’s just like us! She gets sad and frustrated and reads Pema Chödrön!
But let’s talk about this cake, shall we? It’s that time of year where we celebrate Matt’s life by making him a layer cake of his choosing. This birthday, he went with chocolate and chocolate. And since that Vanilla Celebration Cake was so amazing, when it came to picking out which recipe to use, I decided to stick with Jane Hornby’s What to Bake and How to Bake it.

And for the most part, this cake was just as great as the vanilla one; the recipe is clear and simple, and the cake turned out like a dream. The only thing was that my icing didn’t thicken up as promised, though this may have been because I didn’t given it enough time to do so. The problem was that we were losing light and we didn’t want to have to wait until the next day to ice it / photograph it / eat a slice.

In closing, happy birthday to Matt—the perpetual hero of this website and my life!
And just for fun, here’s the history of Matt’s birthday cakes/meals on this site:

One year ago: Scroll down to see the vanilla/vanilla cake with a basket-weave motif
Two years ago: Funfetti!
Three years ago: Classic yellow cake with vanilla icing
Four years ago: Crack pie, a salad with creamy dressing, and onion rings!
Five years ago: Stuffed roasted garlic paste and blue cheese hamburgers (Holy sh*t! We were so young! We ground our own meat.)
We turned around for one second and this happened.
Incidentally, ask Matt about the time he did this to a wedding cake at our dear friend's wedding.
p.s. Thanks for indulging my foray into sports journalism! (Well, thanks to everyone except my mom who didn't finish reading it. In her words: "It was really long!" She then followed that up by asking, "What ended up happening at the meet in Italy?")
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake via Jane Hornby’s What to Bake and How to Bake it

For the cake:
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar

For the chocolate frosting:
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (50-70% cacao, depending on your taste), chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, gently melt the 1 1/4 sticks of butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Meanwhile, grease two 8-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then sift into a large bowl.

Add the brown sugar and break up any lumps. Make a well in the center and add the butter mixture. Using a whisk, slowly mix the ingredients together, then give it a good beating until smooth and evenly blended. Using a spatula, divide the batter equally between the pans and spread it flat.

Bake until the cakes are risen, firm, and have shrunk back slightly from the edges of the pans. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, stir the condensed milk and cream over low heat until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Let the chocolate melt, stirring and beating occasionally as it cools, until thick, fudgy, and completely cooled.

Assemble the cake: On a cake plate lined with strips of parchment paper, sandwich the cakes together with 1/2 cup frosting. Spoon the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. Spread it out thickly, then, working on a quarter of the cake at a time, work the frosting over the edge of the cake and down to meet the plate. Try to keep going in one fluid movement. Repeat all over. Smooth and swirl the frosting as you like, or leave it rough.

Let the cake sit somewhere cool for an hour (or up to a day) before slicing.
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16 comments:

Matthew said...

Thanks you!! I'm going to have a HUGE piece tonight. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Jodi Hildebrand said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT AND MAVIS! Can I have a slice of this tonight??

Meaghan said...

Happy Birthday Matt + Mavis! I must try this cake, and I gotta tell you - Smitten Kitchen's "I want chocolate cake" chocolate cake is effing dreamy. And Chef's Table is so goooooooood. Too many dudes, but if I grow up and become a over-confident, bordering-on-recluse, beef-charring asshole like Francis Mallmann, I will have lived a good life.

Sara said...

Happy birthday, Matt and Mavis! This cake looks DELICIOUS. Do you always use parchment in your round cake pans? I hate when cakes break. This happened to me while making a friend's chocolate birthday cake last week and I had a bit of a meltdown.

Amelia Morris said...

@Matt ThankS you!!

@Jodi I'm bringing it to room temp as I type!

@Meaghan hahahahahaha totally on all accounts. We are halfway through that episode but I'm already completely enthralled by him.

@Sara I basically always do whatever the recipe tells me to when it comes to cakes, and I feel like most of them do tell me to use parchment. Sorry about your broken one! Hopefully it was salvageable. xoxx

Caryn Crasnick-Maloney said...

Completely agree on all points! The Francis Mallmann episode of Chef's Table was a masterpiece. Dan Barber is a total stresscase. My husband and I watched BITWC a while ago and both loved it. I enjoyed AP's book, but you could tell it was a very arduous process for her. And the cake looks delicious!

Romina Marino said...

This book looks really great, your posts about this cake and the vanilla one really make me want to go out and buy it!

kelly said...

I just bought What to Bake and How to Bake it. I can't wait to try this cake. Love the fingerprints in the frosting!

Christina @but i'm hungry said...

That Matt is one lucky fella- that's one hell of a birthday cake lineup. Looks amazing!

NicoleD said...

Ooo..this cake! I enjoy Amy Poehler's book as much as I thought I would! Yes, she did not like writing that book and yes, the pot smoking. I still think she's a cool gal. My favorite part? When they were getting lunch at SNL and it was taking forever and one dude kept complaining and when it finally arrived, Will Forte threw it out the window! Happy Birthday, Matt!!

brooke said...

That repeated signing for more is the reason we get nothing done in our house. And, the reason we sing Itsy Bitsy Spider 30 times a night. Recently, we've moved onto frantic signing AND "mo" yelled repeatedly. :)

Mary Anne said...

Matt is soooooo lucky! But I guess this drove him to the juice cleanse??

Stephanie Drouillard said...

I can't wait to try this cake! I have recently become a huge fan!! I read your book and loved it so much I couldn't stop talking about it to my boyfriend. I came home from work and caught him reading it, he loved it too! We spent our Friday night watching all your videos on the blog! Ha!

Amelia Morris said...

@Stephanie Drouillard THANK YOU!! I love hearing that so much. And welcome to the blog!

@Mary Anne LOLOLOL yes

@brooke Oh my gosh. It's so cute. The budding language skills kill me. Sometimes when he's really desperate for more, he says, "peeeeeeaz."

Amelia Morris said...

@NicoleD hahahaha that was a really funny part. I'm really glad she wrote it!!

Amelia Morris said...

@Caryn Crasnick-Maloney WORD! p.s. unfortunately, because of Matt's juice cleanse, we haven't been able to watch more Chef's Table! sighhh