A Blissful Layer Cake
by Lisa Yockelson
from Chocolate Chocolate
Makes one 3-layer 9-inch cake equaling 12 slices
Blissful Layer Cake
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This layer cake maximizes the flavor of chocolate. The combination of its rounded buttery flavor and seriously unrivaled moistness is what makes it so delicious. And when the tender, moist layers meet a satiny chocolate frosting — a wild composite of chocolate, confectioners' sugar, sour cream, butter, and heavy cream — the two combine to create a handsome cake, big and bold.
For the cake
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup plus
3 tablespoons boiling water
2 2/3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups plus
2 tablespoons sour cream
for the frosting
9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Large pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups plus
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease the inside of three 9-inch layer cake pans (1 1/2 inches deep) with shortening, line the bottom of each pan with a circle of waxed paper cut to fit, grease the paper, and dust with flour.
2. Combine the melted chocolate and boiling water in a small, heatproof bowl. Mix well. Cool to tepid. When tepid, the chocolate mixture will have the consistency of moderately thick pudding. Use the mixture tepid, not cold.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
4. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar in 4 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. (Do not skimp on the beating time.)
5. Add the light brown sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 45 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract and chocolate mixture. On low speed, alternately add the sifted flour mixture in 3 additions with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl frequently to keep the batter even-textured.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly among them. Spread the batter evenly.
7. Bake the cake layers in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until risen, set, and a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer withdraws clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto other cooling racks, peel away the waxed paper, and cool completely.
Make the frosting
1. Place the melted chocolate and melted butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty freestanding electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed to mix until smooth.
2. Blend in half of the confectioners' sugar and the salt. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the remaining confectioners' sugar and beat to combine. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to moderately low and beat for 2 minutes.
3. Add the heavy cream. Increase the speed to moderately high (#7 on a heavy-duty KitchenAid freestanding mixer) and beat until shiny and very creamy, about 8 minutes longer.
4. Cover the frosting and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm enough to spread. Re-beat the frosting for 1 to 2 minutes on moderately high speed just before using. If the frosting seems slack, or is in a hot kitchen, beat in up to 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time.
Assemble the cake
1. Tear off four 3-inch-wide strips of waxed paper. Place the strips in the shape of a square around the outer 3 inches of a cake plate.
2. Center one cake layer on the plate (partially covering the waxed paper square; the strips should extend by at least 1 inch). Spread over a layer of frosting. Carefully position the second layer on top. Cover with a layer of frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Once the frosting is set, gently remove and discard the strips of paper.
3. Let the cake stand for 1 hour before slicing and serving.