Fabulous Chocolate Cake

Photo by Isabel Sanchez

I’ve always had the conviction that a great chocolate cake should either have a bunch of layers (to house more chocolate frosting) or be extremely dense and near flourless, to emphasize that deep rich chocolate flavor.

This cake changed my mind.

And I’m still not quite sure how it did, except that it did.

(I have to give props to my little sis for convincing me to try it. Thanks Nic)!

The most surprising thing is that there’s not even that much chocolate used. Cocoa powder for the layers and unsweetened chocolate make up the frosting.  If I had to guess, its the brewed coffee thats in both the cake and the glaze that brings out the chocolate flavor (you can’t taste the coffee at all), and the tangy buttermilk that moistens and flavors the batter.

ahhhhh, and then there’s the orange zest.  I’ve made this cake twice now and this past time I added orange zest as a garnish on top of the cake. Wow, was it delicious! Just a hint of orange, on a bite or two of cake, and it was such a wonderful bright contrast to the richness of the chocolate. I think a teaspoon of grated orange zest in the glaze would also be wonderful, if you want to fully commit to the orange flavor.  Do try!!

Chocolate Bundt Cake (from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook via my sister Nicola)

Originally meant for a bundt cake pan, but I used two 8 inch cake pans.

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

For the Glaze (You’ll have some left over with this recipe)

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
optional: 1 tsp grated orange zest

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan or two 8 inch cake pans.

Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. (if using two cake pans, decrease baking time by 10-15 minutes)

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing:  Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler), and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.  Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Melt the butter in a separate pan or in the microwave.  Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated.  Sift in half of the powdered sugar.  Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.  Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.  The glaze should be thick and shiny.  Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely. Or pour a generous amount of glaze in the center of the first layer, letting it drip down the sides and repeat with the top layer.  Leave at room temperature until ready to serve

OPTIONAL: add 1 tsp grated orange zest to the melted chocolate for the glaze OR cut long thin strips of orange zest and slice really thinly into 2 inch strips. Use as a decoration on top of the cake.

*Photos by my beautiful friend Isabel Sanchez
chocolate cake