"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Golden Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting




Got a hankering for a classic layer cake with chocolate frosting? This is the cake for you.

There are two cake recipes in the cake chapter that could qualify as the cake part--the second one being All-Occasion Yellow Cake. Golden Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting has half again the amount of batter though (3 1/2 cups of flour vs. 2, 2 sticks of butter vs. 1) so if you're using nine-inch pans I'd go with this one.

I think the reason why some people don't like cake is because they find it dry. Bakers, this is where YOU have full control. Dry cake comes from overbaking, so set your oven timers for five minutes under the suggested time in the oven.

Now, this brings me to a side-topic in the world of baking, which is the effect that different color pans have on your baked goods. As you know, you can bake in glass, light metal, or dark metal pans. I still have a hard time understanding why dark metal would absorb more heat than light metal. I mean, I get it when it's the sun heating up your car upholstery, but that's heat and light combined. Is it just heat that's the issue? Light doesn't have anything to do with it? Because it's DARK in an oven. So why does a dark metal pan bake your food faster and brown it better?

And here's another question to ponder: will your food be colder in a white container in your refrigerator than if it were in a black container?

All of which is to say that my dark metal nine-inch baking pans really browned my cake layers. I didn't think they were dry, but I might have baked them one minute less for perfection. Not that I'm a perfectionist.

OK, let's leave the cake for a moment and talk about the frosting.

Readers, I had several heartbeats of hesitation in the store while I was buying the chocolate for the frosting part of the recipe. Why? Because it calls for two-thirds milk chocolate and one-third semi-sweet chocolate.

I'm not so much of a milk-chocolate girl. In fact, if a box of chocolates were waved under my nose and the only ones left were covered with milk chocolate, I would pass them up unless I were starving or really bored (oh, the curse of idle eating!)

But in the interests of making the recipe as directed, at least for the first time, I dutifully picked up two bags of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips and one bag of semi-sweet. I didn't even buy the bittersweet instead! Admire my heroic restraint!

And here's another rhetorical question, which is why on earth would anybody buy frosting in a can, when it's so freakin' easy to make awesome frosting? This is the easiest frosting on earth and it's amazingly good. Here's all you have to do to make awesome frosting yourself:

1. melt chocolate
2. add sour cream and vanilla

That's it! For people who dislike super-sweet frosting, or frosting made with Crisco, this is the frosting for you.

Now, would this frosting be better with semi- or bittersweet chocolate instead of milk? You know how I'm going to answer that question, but the beauty of it is that it's all up to you. And actually this frosting kicked ass, even with the milk chocolate.

I made this cake for my friend Elizabeth's dinner party--lots of émigrés from Pennsylvania and Michigan. I figured they would like cake, and they did.

5 comments:

Georgia said...

I am enrolled in a 4-week chocolate course. The first class meets tonight.

Re: your cake, yum!

Georgia said...

I learned how to temper chocolate! Also, I prepared a pecan-cranberry dark chocolate bark and chocolate dipped fruit. Next week: ganache and truffles.

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

YUM!!! Georgia, we need to do a Vulcan mind-meld when you return to the East Coast.

Bob Jacobs said...

You're an evil woman, Melissa Bach Palladino. I put on five pounds just looking at the beautiful photos. Evil, I say.

Cheers,
Rob

Sweetie said...

hi melissa!

i've linked to your blog from my site since i'm chronicling my own adventures in baking through a baker (Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions).
The cake pans I'm using for my next recipe and I don't want the crusts to burn. Is there anything I can do to prep the pans? I'm going to use cake strips and lower the oven temp by 25 (as per Braker) but I wonder if you have an expert tips for me?

Thanks very much!