Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

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So, I know this should probably be a post about pie, which I love, or pumpkin pie…which I HATE. I know…I’m a jerk. I like pumpkin things, but never pumpkin pie.

I’m not sorry.

Anyway, let’s talk cake.

This cake is super simple in both assembly and flavor–the batter takes minutes to make and there’s zero special equipment required. Don’t get it twisted though, because even if this is just a chocolate-on-chocolate situation, it is so, so good in it’s simplicity. The cake is dark and rich, but not so much that it doesn’t benefit from a glazing of glossy ganache. The crumb is fine and very moist, my favorite. And, I know ganache sounds fancy, but it’s so not…two ingredients, mixed together. DONE. I’m pretty sure this is my new go-to cake. It’s so easy, a little rustic, but pretty. It’s a gem.

 

Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

Makes 1, 8-inch, round cake.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Use your favorite cocoa powder for this cake. I prefer Valrhona because it is rich and dark with intense chocolate flavor.  

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2/3 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray an 8-inch, round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a measuring cup whisk together the milk and vinegar, whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla into the milk and vinegar mixture and pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently with a spatula until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out. Cool completely before glazing with ganache.

Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces chopped, semisweet chocolate (or chips)

Heat the cream until scalded, when little bubbles form around the edges, add the chocolate, remove from the heat, and cover. Let the chocolate and cream rest for about 5 minutes, until the cream has melted the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour warm ganache over the top of the cake. Let the ganache set 10 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Buttermilk Mini Donuts

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Let’s just agree that mini donuts with pink frosting are dang cute. I mean, I have been holding out on buying a mini donut pan because I figured…why? Why, when I already have a normal sized donut pan AND a heart shaped donut pan…does a girl really need one for minis, too? Turns out, yep. This girl sure does…especially when said pan was on sale.

I’m glad I caved…because, um…MINI DONUTS! They totally happened. These ones are  vanilla scented, buttermilk tangy, double-strawberry-trouble and they are good. Like, real good.

We’re mixing crushed, freeze dried strawberries into the batter. You could use chopped, fresh berries, but honestly…I have a pretty strong aversion to soggy, strawberry-studded cake situations. Strawberries are just so juicy, you know? I feel like they make the cake surrounding them soggy and gummy and sad…that may just be me, but that’s why we’re using strawberry dust. I know I could have roasted some fresh berries, but…I guess I didn’t really…feel like it? Honesty, it’s happening. Plus, those freeze dried strawberries are unsweetened and tart, yet super concentrated with strawberry flavor — basically making them perfect to add to baked goods. The cake part of these donuts has little freckles of dried strawberry throughout that make for tangy little bursts of berry in each bite. The glaze and topping combines buttermilk (which is also in the batter), a bit of jam, and confectioner’s sugar plus a scatter of more dried strawberries. While it’s my nature to try to eat these the second they leave the oven, the flavors actually intensify as they cool…after dinner they were perfect and just in time for dessert! These mini donuts are so thoughtful that way.

Strawberry Buttermilk Mini Donuts

Adapted from Saveur 

Makes about 48 mini donuts

Freeze dried strawberries have a dry texture and concentrated flavor. You can easily crush them with your hands, or in a bag with a mallet. You can find the freeze dried berries at many stores, I always seem to easily find them at Target and Trader Joe’s. 

1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries, crushed, plus more for topping

1 1/4 cup cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup flavorless oil (like canola or grape seed)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

glaze:

1 tablespoon buttermilk

1 tablespoon strawberry jam

1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly spray a mini donut pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bow combine the crushed, freeze dried strawberries, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla, to combine. Pour the oil/buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and fold to combine completely.

Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill each mini donut cup about 1/2 way with batter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 9 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before turning out to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, jam, and the 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Add more sugar to get desired consistency. Glaze cooled donuts and sprinkle with additional crushed, freeze dried strawberries.

 

 

 

Orange Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

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These days I can’t let a birthday pass without baking something festive. Something homemade and tailored to the birthday girl/boy’s specific taste. If there is ever a time to bust out a layer cake and sprinkles, it’s on a birthday.

I thought about Sean’s birthday cake for months–chocolate is always a given, and the orange was added because the dude loves the zesty-ness of oranges juxtaposed against deep, dark chocolate. I made this cake for my guy because it’s his favorite. Because he is the best guy who makes me laugh every single day, and he doesn’t even get annoyed by my constant stream-of-consciousness singing…seriously, I’m pretty sure it’s like living in a really bad musical about the minutiae of life…and in my book that’s more than enough to deserve a birthday cake.

The cake is easy to put together, with a nice crumb and perfect tenderness. Lots of orange zest makes it bright and flavorful. The chocolate frosting has sour cream that brings a bit of tang to cut the dark richness–it spreads across the cake like a dream and takes on a fudgey quality once it’s set. A heavy dose of sprinkles make it the perfect party cake. Candles and tall glasses of milk are optional, but highly recommended.

Orange Cake

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 3/4 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup orange zest (I used 6 oranges)

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two 8inch round cake pans with parchment circles, grease the pans and the parchment, set aside.

In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup whisk together the vanilla, orange juice, and sour cream. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, rub the orange zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the melted butter and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the dry ingredients, mix gently to combine, followed by the orange-sour cream mixture to combine, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, mix until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pans on a cooling rack about 10 minutes before turning out and cooling completely.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Adapted slightly from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

I subbed the corn syrup for golden syrup and added extra sour cream where the recipe called from half and half. 

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons golden syrup

pinch of salt

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

Melt the chocolate, butter, golden syrup, and salt over a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream. Continue to whisk until spreadable, but still soft–use to frost the cake immediately. The frosting will set up to a fudge-like consistency at room temperature.