I started out the first day of this New Year with two different kinds of fruit salad, one made of blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. The other made of cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple. After having taken in all that antioxidant goodness, I had a hankering for a slice of this layer cake frosted in luscious chocolate. I also baked a cake a year ago today frosted in chocolate, which was equally good, but this cake is an entirely different recipe. The year went by so fast that it’s hard to believe we’re starting another one. So what are my resolutions? I haven’t decided yet. I do always start the New Year with good intentions.
Anyway, I seem to be trending on chocolate at the start of the year, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I had plans of adding some kind of piping to decorate this cake. In fact, I had another frosting completely tinted and ready to go.
But, there was the matter of the chocolate ganache that made me abandon the idea of further embellishing the cake. The ganache was so good, I thought it better to leave well enough alone.
What’s more, there was already a lot going on within the cake. This recipe for good old-fashioned yellow, vanilla cake is from the book, Sky High, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. It has become my go to recipe for yellow cake because it is so delicious and, more importantly, easy.
I love basic yellow cake frosted with chocolate, or any cake that calls for just simple ingredients, nothing fancy, exotic or hard to find. The chocolate fudge frosting is also great, it’s hard to believe it’s so easy to make. It would also work well piped on cupcakes.
The recipe really calls for only three 8-inch layers. I was just being adventurous when I thought I would see how far I could stretch the batter of one recipe. I’ve always been intrigued with those multi-layered Smith Island cakes, so I thought I would try and make a cake that looked like one, using this vanilla cake recipe. Can you count the layers?
I actually had a minor glitch in this experiment. I’m in the habit of just spraying the baking pans with non-stick spray without actually lining the bottom with parchment paper, even if the recipe calls for lining the baking pans. The cake would just slide right out with just the non-stick spray. So imagine my panic when I tried to turn out the first layer and nothing happened. It was stuck! I should have thought it through before carrying out what seemed like a great idea at the time. Since the layers were so thin, there wasn’t much weight for gravity to pull. I had to pry each and every layer out with an offset spatula.
So a word to the wise, just stick with three layers, or four, or perhaps five if you want to stretch it. And if you do decide to go with multi-layers like I just did, make sure to line your baking pans. Also, note that the more layers you have, the more surface area there is that needs to be frosted. So you will need to increase the amount of frosting. I used 1.5 x the original recipe since I had so many layers.
The chocolate fudge frosting recipe fits a 3-layer cake perfectly. It’s the exact amount for filling and covering a 3-layer cake. I could have covered the cake with the same fudge frosting that I filled the cake with. But I wanted to try out a chocolate ganache recipe that was used on a different cake in the book. So I used that ganache recipe to cover this cake.
As for the ganache, OMG the ganache! It is to die for! It was another simple, easy yet fabulous tasting recipe. I did make one variation though. The recipe called for bittersweet chocolate, but I used just regular milk chocolate chips. I’m sure it would have also been delicious with the bittersweet chocolate. I think it’s a flavor adults would like, but children might not appreciate.
I’ve included all three recipes here, just as they are written in the book. If you plan to try them out, just remember the chocolate fudge frosting is all that’s needed to fill and cover a 3-layer cake. Using the chocolate ganache recipe to cover the cake was just my variation. If you make more than 3 layers, increase the proportions of the fudge frosting to make sure you don’t run out.
Best wishes for the New Year…
…and happy baking!!!
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting
From Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake, serves 12 to 16
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Instant Fudge Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans or spray to coat with vegetable oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.
- Put the eggs and yolks in a medium mixing bowl, add the vanilla and ¼ cup of the buttermilk. Whisk to blend well.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixer bowl, whisk to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to these dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
- Bake the cake layers for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.
- To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread ¾ of the Instant Fudge Frosting over the layer right to the edge. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and use all but ¾ cup of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. With an offset palette knife or spatula, smooth out the frosting all over. Place the remaining ¾ cup frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube and pipe a shell border around the top and bottom edges of the cake.
Instant Fudge Frosting
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.
Dark Ganache Glaze
- 1 pound extra-bittersweet chocolate (I used milk chocolate chips)
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Chop the chocolate coarsely and put it in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and use the glaze soon after making so that it doesn’t set.
Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake
Vanilla Yellow Cake Recipe
Instant Fudge Frosting Recipe
Chocolate Ganache Recipe