Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Birthday Celebration and Chocolate Cake

Sunday we had a small party for Julian's birthday. For those of you paying attention, you might have noticed it is over a month since his actual birthday. I try not to let details like that get in my way. I like to have a special family day on my children's actual birthdays, soon after Julian's actual birthday was mine and then Passover. So we just waited to celebrate with his friends till later.

On his actual birthday the whole family had such a great time at Shelburne Farms that we decided to have his party there as well. This also seemed like a brilliant plan as our house is tiny and I may be an excellent cook but I am a lousy cleaner, tidy is not my thing. My house had that world war three bomb went off in it look. Although nothing that requires the board of health, just clutter.

Shelburne Farms is not open for the season yet and when we went there the previous month we could drive all the way in and park. Imagine our surprise and horror when we were stopped at the gate and asked if we were members. Oy! I thought I told everyone it was free. However oddly enough the weather cooperated with our plans and we were allowed to drive up because it was not a beautiful day.

I borrowed a bunny cake pan from a friend to make the cake. It seemed like such a great shape for the farm party. However this pan requires a really thick batter and I decided just to go with our favorite chocolate cake. Usually I make this cake in a bundt pan and serve it without adornment, however this was a party and over a month since the actual birthday. So I made it in 2 9-inch cake pans, layered them with chocolate ganache between and then more ganache on top. I don't usually like frosting, but rich chocolate is another story. For Julian's birthday I made a chocolate ganache but I made the same cake for people I work with that was a peppermint ganache. Kind of a thin mint cake. Both were wonderful.

This is another recipe where I use half whole wheat pastry flour. With that much chocolate the wheat taste is unnoticeable and I see nothing wrong with more fiber and whole grains. One of my friends apparently really enjoyed the cake but was wondering the whole time if there was something healthy in it. I am not sure why she thinks I only cook healthy food. I don't think this recipe is health food, but it is moist, chocolatey and smooth. If you happen by some miracle to have some leftover it also stores really well without drying out. Just keep it in a sealed container on the counter.

Chocolate Cake

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (you can substitute 1 cup milk mixed wit 1 Tbsp white vinegar, soy milk is fine here)
1 cup oil (the original recipe calls for canola, I have used extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup all purpose unbleached white flour, feel free to use all white or use white whole wheat)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 ° Oil the pans or pan, I used pam spray, and then dust them with cocoa powder. Combine the wet ingredients in the bowl of a mixer, or in a large bowl with a whisk and mix to combine. Add the other ingredients except the chips and combine on low until smooth. When the batter is mixed add the chips and fold them in.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. It takes approximately an hour to cook in a bundt pan, 45 to 50 minutes in 2 9-inch cake pans. Allow to cool in the pans before turning out. Use a serrated knife to even the top of the cakes. Use an off set spatula if you have one to spread a thick layer of ganache (half the recipe) on 1 cake before laying the second cake on top. Pour the remaining ganache on the top and spread smoothly across the top. Decorate as you wish with sprinkles, dragees etc

Chocolate Ganache

7 oz's high quality bittersweet chocolate broken up
6 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (for peppermint ganache use 3/4 tsp peppermint extract instead of vanilla)
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and heat until smooth over medium low heat.

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