Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

       What better way to celebrate this, our 100th post, with an incredible cake!  This is chocolate cake takes the prize for our absolute favorite.  Whenever Andrew is asked to bake a chocolate cake, this is what’s been requested.  It also has a wonderful story attached to.  Well, come to think, it’s not all wonderful but read along and see. 

        This recipe comes from our dear friend Michael Grim.  Now if you are faithful viewer of Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa”, you’d immediately recognize Michael.  With his partner, Jim Osburn, he’s the Bridgehampton Florist and they are both on Ina’s show with some frequency.   But I digress.  Beatty was one of Michael’s grandmothers. His grandfather had a milk route in Pennsylvania Dutch country and Beatty used to bake this cake to take to the customers on his milk deliveries.  I urge you to try this cake with a tall glass of icy cold milk.  It will take your breath away.

        Now, about the not-so-wonderful part.  This recipe has been in Michael’s family for years.  It’s an old Pennsylvania Dutch secret that’s been been around a very long time.  But when Ina Garten published it in “The Barefoot Contessa at Home” (Clarkson Potter 2006), no less than the Hershey Chocolate Company itself came in and demanded credit for the cake!  Not a very sweet thing to do, if you ask me.  Besides, what good cook doesn’t want to share their recipes?  But don’t let this leave a sour taste in your mouth, bake this and I am almost certain you’ll forget all about Hershey’s.  The secret, by the way, is not really the chocolate: It’s the cup of hot coffee that gets added to the batter.

Recipe for Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:

Butter, for greasing the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

To make the frosting:
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.