Happy birthday to me. It’s not my birthday, not really. It’s the birth of my very own website and I couldn’t be prouder. After publishing two cookbooks, 10 years teaching at Kings Cooking Studio, writing food columns for patch.com and examiner.com, it was time to do my own thing. One thing I know for sure is that home cooks are the heart and soul of cooking and all the great tried-and-true recipes are born from the home cooks kitchen. From one home cook to another I hope you’ll join me as I create from the trenches of my own kitchen. Oh, and this chocolate birthday cake? It’s been baked in the Currie house since my husband Jim was a little boy. All the secrets to this keeper are about to be revealed.
Secret Ingredient: The ingredient in both cake and frosting that makes it so rich and moist is sour cream. It doesn’t seem like a natural fit with chocolate cake, but rest assured, it blends right in.
Is it Done Yet?: When it comes to oven temp, no two ovens are alike. Leaving your cake in just five minutes too long can result in a dry cake with no recourse. As the cake bakes, it shrinks a little and pulls away from the sides. When you see a slight gap between cake and pan, you know it’s done.
Frosting a Cake 101: Here’s how the pros do it: Make sure your cake has completely cooled before you frost it. Begin by placing one cake on the serving platter. Spread ¼ of the frosting on top. Place the second cake on the first. Spread the sides with 3/4th of the remaining frosting. Start at the bottom and spread upward (this minimizes crumbs). An offset spatula is a great tool for this. Spread the remaining frosting on top and ta da!
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1 pound box confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Cake: In a double boiler or over simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs until light and lemony. Beat in vanilla, chocolate mixture (with motor running, add 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate, then slowly add the rest. This is called tempering and will insure the eggs do not cook), water and sour cream. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and slowly add until just combined.
- Pour batter into two buttered and floured 9-inch baking pans. Bake 25-30 minutes until tester comes out clean and cake is pulling away from the sides. Let rest for 10 minutes, then cook completely on wire racks.
- Frosting: While the cake is baking, make the frosting. In a double boiler or over simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat chocolate mixture with confectioner’s sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Spread on cooled cake and here’s how: Place one cake on a plate suitable for serving. Spread a layer (1/4) of the frosting on top of the cake. Gently place the other cake directly on top. Cover the sides all the way around with (1/2) the frosting. Spread the remaining (1/4) frosting on top.