25 May 2010

Chocolate Cream Cake with Chocolate Frosting

*** Made from scratch a hearty cake with an intense chocolate flavor in the icing for a man's birthday. Just make sure to cut those slices thinner for women to enjoy. Cream cakes are tasty desserts of the past but tend to be heavy by modern standards. But oh, the flavor! :)

Photo by Tommy Simmons, Food Editor @ The Advocate

From Denny: Our local newspaper's food editor has decided to learn how to bake cakes. She is brave to chronicle her baking journey as it happens in real time. This is her first cake.

Most of us these days bake with cake mixes which are lighter versions of cakes our mothers and grandmothers used to bake. The difference is usually in the type and amount of flour utilized.

When I was eleven years old I made my first simple white cake recipe but doubled the dose of butter by mistake. It was awesome! My Cinderella style evil stepmother, a real killjoy personality, fussed about the expense of an extra stick of butter. I didn't see her in the kitchen trying to help guide the process as she hated kids, even her own grandkids. Of course, the funny part was the cake was a huge hit at the dinner table with the rest of the family. I've kept that recipe of beginner's luck with me all these years because the story still makes me smile.

So, when I see an adult food writer brave the cold cruel world of criticism to learn how to bake, well, I just have to support her! :) Tommy Simmons goes on to talk about this cream cake as "so dense and sturdy it would not dream of crumbling." A good cake for a beginner as it's easier to get these kinds of cakes out of the cake pans after baking.

She learned all the basics a novice learns about baking like not to leave the baked cakes in the pan for too long or you practically "have to get a crowbar to pry the cooled layers from the cake pans. The problem was I had left the cakes in the pans overnight." Been there and done that mistake! :) The reason for that issue is because the greased pans had oil that solidified, holding the cake in place.

An easy fix to that problem is to reheat your oven and pop the baked cakes back into the oven for anywhere for 2 - 5 minutes at 300 degrees F. to melt the oil on the sides of the pans to release the cake. Once the metal of the pan is reheated, but the cake is not hot or warm to the touch, the job is done. You don't really want to re-bake the cakes. You could also reheat the bottoms of the pans over the stove burner though I've found you can still encounter issues with the sides of the pans not releasing well so I use the oven method.

How do you know the cake is ready to be released from the pan? Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then shake gently, you will feel a little give from the cake which means the oil has softened. That's when it's time to invert the cake onto the cooling rack.

Food editor Simmons goes to to remark that the cake's flavor improves the second day. Such is the case with most cream cakes. That's why they are still so popular in south Louisiana and the American South in general. They are forgiving cakes, easy to make and store well in the refrigerator.

Simmons did not enjoy the Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa in the frosting as she found it too assertive and downright bossy for her favorite chocolate taste. She thought it was too much chocolate. When she bakes this cake in the future she made a mental note to herself to substitute Hershey's Cocoa, the regular one.

As an experienced cake baker who adores chocolate what I would do is use the lighter version of cocoa for the layers and use a thinner layer of the dark chocolate icing just for the top. You just divide the icing by 2/3 and 1/3, using the 1/3 as the dark chocolate. Or to keep it really simple just make two chocolate icing recipes, one light and one dark. Icing keeps well and you know you are going to be making another cake in need of icing very soon! :) Besides, Simmons advised you to make two recipes of the icing to have enough volume to properly ice the cake anyway.

Any time you have an assertive taste for a cake, it's best to use it in moderation. Lemon cakes are like that too. When using lemon curd, just use it on the filling and use a lighter lemon taste for the icing.

Cream Cake With Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Frosting

From: “Cake Keeper Cakes” by Lauren Chattman and “The Fannie Farmer Baking Book” by Marion Cunningham

Serves: 12 to 16


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tbl. vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream, not whipped, room temperature
Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)


1. Grease and flour 4 (8-inch) layer-cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Beat eggs and sugar together in large bowl until mixture is thickened (about 5 minutes). Stir in vanilla.

4. Alternate adding flour mixture with the cream to the egg mixture. Don’t overbeat at this stage. Beat for about 1 minute just to make sure everything is combined.

5. Distribute batter evenly among the 4 cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Let cake layers cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7. When cooled, you can slice each layer in half crosswise if you like thin cake layers and then frost and stack to assemble the cake. To store, seal the cut surface with plastic wrap and cover the whole cake with additional plastic wrap or a cake cover and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

Hershey’s “Especially Dark” Chocolate Frosting

From: Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa can label

Makes: about 2 cups


1/2 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (very intense chocolate flavor, you may want to just use Hershey's Cocoa, the regular one, for the normal level of chocolate flavor if you are not used to deep dark intense chocolate flavors.)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, if desired


1. Melt butter and stir in cocoa.

2. Alternate adding confectioners’ sugar and milk. Beating to achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency.

3. Stir in vanilla.

4. Frost between cake layers, sides and the top of the cake.

5. Press chopped pecans onto top of cake.

Note from Tommy Simmons: Double the frosting recipe so you have plenty of frosting. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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