Ever since I was in high school (20+ years--wow), I've been a designated baker. Who's going to bring dessert to the potluck? Di! Who's going to make something for the bake sale? Di! Who's going to make cake for so-and-so's birthday at work? Di!
It's mostly my own doing. I love to bake, and everyone knows it. Early on in my career, I had a manager who would bake for all her employees' birthdays and other special occasions. When I became a manager, I started to do the same thing. I bake to welcome new employees. I bake for all sorts of holidays. I bake for birthdays--and take requests. =) Some have been interesting, like coming up with something gluten-free for one person (long before my blogging days, back when I didn't have lots of online resources to turn to for help; I made cheesecake). Some I wouldn't even eat myself (the German chocolate cake I made for the most recent birthday at work; I hate coconut).
So when our small staff at work decided to have a potluck the day before Valentine's Day, I immediately volunteered to bring the dessert. Not that I had to say so--everyone assumed I would. Especially since three of the others are guys who definitely don't bake. =) I was just really happy to have a reason to make the full recipe of this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater chose the recipe that I'm sure many of us have been eyeing since buying this cookbook--the cover recipe, Devils Food White Out Cake.
Most of the time these days, I make smaller versions of layer cakes, since it's hard for us to finish off a big one. I've got a couple of cute little 6-inch pans that work well for halving recipes. My 9-inch pans are pretty decent, too, but my 8-inch pans date back to my college days, and are pretty cheap. They're also not very deep, so I wasn't sure how well thicker layers would work in them. Fortunately, I recently had the chance to do some unexpected shopping at Sur la Table (a story for another post) and I acquired some much better 8-inch pans that I was able to break in with this recipe.
While I love pretty much anything chocolate, I often don't like chocolate cake. More specifically, I don't like most bakery and box-mix chocolate cakes. Most of them just aren't all that chocolatey. Yes, I'm a chocolate cake snob, and I seem to be raising my children to be the same way. =) I've found a few good recipes, like the one I used for Brianna's birthday cake. After making this week's TWD recipe, I've realized that the ones I do like are the ones that use melted chocolate in addition to cocoa powder. And even better, Dorie's cake adds in chopped chocolate pieces!
For the cake itself, I followed the recipe as written. I took the buttermilk option, since I actually had some in my fridge. I used Scharffen Berger cocoa and El Rey 70% chocolate in the batter and used El Rey 58.5% for the added chocolate. My playing around came with the frosting. Due to a lack of time and energy, I really didn't feel like trying the Italian merengue for the frosting. So I cheated and did a Swiss merengue instead. I put half a cup of egg whites (I pretty much always have some stashed in my freezer) and a cup of sugar in the bowl of my standing mixer and set it over a pan of simmering water. I whisked the whites and sugar together until the mixture hit a temperature of 160 degrees F. Then I removed the bowl from the heat, put it back on the stand mixer, and added the vanilla. I used the whisk attachment to beat the merengue until it was cooled to room temperature and it was fluffy and shiny.
I'm not sure how it compares to the frosting as I was supposed to make it, but it worked pretty well. I cut the cake layers in half, and layered three of the pieces with the frosting, spreading frosting over the sides and top of the cake as well. Then I crumbled the fourth cake piece and pressed the crumbs over the sides and top of the cake. I realized later that I was actually only supposed to do the sides and a bit of the top. Oops. =)
The verdict? I really, really liked this cake. I will definitely be making the cake itself again. I'd like to try it with a different frosting, maybe stabilized whipped cream or cream cheese frosting. I particularly liked the bits of chocolate in the cake. Jamie really liked it as well. As for the people at work... As luck would have it, the potluck ended up being cancelled on account of flu. Two people sick out of a 5-person staff makes things a bit challenging. But I already had the cake made, so I took it to work anyway. The guys all seemed to like it. I had a hard time with pictures this week, though, because the lighting at work isn't that great. In fact, the best pictures turned out to be the ones I took of the cake sitting in my car... =)
If you'd like to try this one for yourself, you can definitely find the recipe in the book. Or head on over to Stephanie's blog. And be sure to see what all the other TWD bakers did this week!
Oh, and one last thing... I couldn't resist including a picture of the lovely tulips that Brianna and Jamie got me for Valentine's Day! (I also got a new cookbook--more on that later...)
Seeing the colors after all the brown and white makes me think of The Wizard of Oz... =)