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Monday, March 30, 2009

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

This was the cake we had for Hazel's family birthday party. I had asked what kind of cake she wanted and she was very clear: chocolate cake with strawberry frosting. Sounded great to me, and of course it was a chance to try a new cake recipe. This comes from Marcy Goldman's A Passion for Baking, which I'm having about 80% success with, and really liking my odds.

One thing I loved about this cake is it includes both buttermilk and sour cream. So you know it will be moist and flavorful. Another thing I liked is it is so darn tall! It's at least half again as tall as a layer cake made with a cake mix. Both cakes rose above the edges of the 9-inch cake pans, and the final construction rubbed against the top of my cake stand glass dome. Definitely special birthday worthy. Made up the frosting myself.Dark Chocolate Layer Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped/mashed fresh strawberries
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper circles. Place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.

2. In a mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold dry ingredients into wet and mix, adding buttermilk and sour cream as mixture blends. Blend on low speed about 3 minutes, scraping sides and bottom once to incorporate all ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake on middle oven rack 35 to 40 minutes, until cakes barely spring back when gently pressed. Let cool completely in pans.

4. For frosting, beat butter and sugar and add enough strawberries (with their juice) for frosting to come together. Whip well and add more strawberries until it reaches desired consistency. If too thin, add more sugar.

5. To frost cake, semi-freeze layers about 20 to 45 minutes for easier handling. Lay down one layer, flat side down. Frost. Top with next layer, bottom side up. Press down lightly and finish icing sides and top of cake. Garnish with sliced strawberries or chocolate shavings if desired. We served it with vanilla ice cream.

Here's what was left the next morning:

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