Now That's a Chocolate Cake

Now That's A Chocolate Cake

Recently, I have been exploring the world of dessert cakes.  Unlike the decorated cakes that I normally make, dessert cakes usually don't have any fancy piping or writing on them.

I follow Gretchen Prices's Blog, Woodland Bakery, and when I saw her "Tower of Death Cake" I knew I had to make it (or a version of it).  Go to the Woodland Bakery blog to see a video of how she makes this cake.

I learned several valuable lessons while making this cake that I am going to pass on so if you give it a try, you will know what to do and what NOT to do.

Preparing the Cake

You can start with any chocolate cake.  Gretchen has a recipe on her site, but I just used my regular chocolate cake recipe.  You could even use a box mix, but you would probably need 2 mixes for this cake.  I made mine in 3 pans that are a little more than 8" in diameter.  The thing is you need 6 layers of cake.  If you make 3 layers like I did, just cut each layer in half.  If you make 2 layers, you will have to cut each layer into 3 thin layers.  Before I cut
my cake layers in half, I "leveled" them.  All that means is I took a little bit off the top of the cakes so they would be flat and level.  Here's what they look like when they are leveled.

That contraption in the background is a Wilton cake leveler.  This one had been stored in a cabinet for a long time because I didn't like the way it worked UNTIL I saw a youtube video on a different technique for using this leveler.  I love it now - glad I didn't throw it away.  Here's the tutorial video: How to level a cake  I used that same technique to "torte" - a fancy way of saying I cut each layer into two.

Next, you want to prepare a cake board.  Since I knew this cake would be traveling about 1 hour away, I wanted to make sure it did not slide off the cake
board so I "nailed" it to the board.  To do that, all you do is smear some of your icing on the board before you put your first layer down.  The icing acts as a glue to keep your cake from sliding off.

Stacking the Cake

One of the unique things about this cake is that it is filled with alternating layers of cream cheese icing and chocolate.  Now, in the original cake by Gretchen, she uses chocolate ganache as her chocolate filling.  I used regular chocolate buttercream.  You start with a layer of cake - then a layer of cream cheese icing.  Then another layer of cake - and a layer of chocolate icing.  Then another layer of cake - another layer of cream cheese icing and so on until you get to the top.

Now, here is where I will do something different next time.  Gretchen used a pastry bag to pipe her fillings in.  I always just spread it on like I am icing the cake so that is what I did.  Don't do that!  These layers of cake are very thin and easy to tear when you are trying to ice them like that.  It will be a lot easier to level the whole cake and make sure the sides are straight if you use the pastry bag to pipe in the fillings.

By the way, since these layers are so thin, let me show you how I picked them up and place them on the cake without them breaking into crumbs.  I used a cheap,
plastic cutting board to transport these things.  Unless your cake is frozen and stiff, you probably need to use something like this to help you keep them from falling part.

So, at this point your cake is filled and stacked.  You must place it in the refrigerator before you ice it.  With all these thin layers, if you tried to ice it now it would just move around and fall apart on you.  I place mine in a covered cake carrier and put it in the fridge overnight.  If you have the time, a couple of hours is
all it needs.  When it is sufficiently cold and pretty "solid", just ice it in chocolate buttercream.  Gretchen iced hers very thin, but since my cake was "wonky", I iced it with a thicker layer of chocolate buttercream.

Then - back in the fridge.  Your cake needs to be very cold when you pour the ganache on it.  I kept the cake in the refrigerator until my ganache was ready to pour on it.

Making Ganache

To make the ganache, just mix equal parts (by weight) of heavy cream and baker's chocolate.  Here is what I used:
Chop the chocolate up into little pieces.  Heat the cream until you see bubbles.  Have the chocolate in a bowl, then pour the hot cream over it.  I like to let it set for a minute with a towel over it.  Then whisk it with a wire whisk until smooth.  This will need to sit a little while to thicken up.  The longer it sits, the thicker it will become.  Couple of things I would do different this time - make more ganache.  Since I wasn't using this as a filling, I didn't make as much as the Gretchen's recipe called for.  I should have made more than I did (I used 8 oz. of each).  The 8 oz. really wasn't enough to sufficiently cover the cake.  I used bittersweet chocolate which balanced out the sweetness of the other icings used in the filling and the cake itself.

Also, next time I make this cake, I will not let the ganache get as thick before I pour it.  I was worried it was too thin so I let it sit and every once in a while, I would give it a stir with the whisk.  Once it cooled, it started to thicken quicker and when you pour it on a very cold cake, it pretty much solidifies.

To cover the cake in ganache, I just put the cake on a cooling rack and then put that in a sheet pan (to catch the ganache that flowed off the cake).  Start pouring on the top of the cake, using a spatula to help move the excess off the top and down the sides.  Put it back in the refrigerator to harden up.

I added a little flower made of fondant to the top of mine (the decorator in me just couldn't resist).  The best part about this is that the people I made it for loved it.  Comments ranged from its "sinfully delicious" to "best chocolate cake I've ever had".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment!