Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chocolate orange cake

Cake number two of the Great Wedding Cake Training Season! All the components are adapted from this cake and inspired by the need to use up a denuded blood orange left over from cocktail production on Friday night with only 1/2 c cocoa powder in the house. The cake base is pretty much perfect—dark, moist, soft yet held its structure despite my tendency to come perilously close to dropping layers on the floor at various points. The frosting and ganache are delicious but a bit sloppy in the context of a sunny afternoon barbeque, as expected.

Noga didn't seem to mind though.

And Virginia Wolff the coolest caterpillar around was quite happy running in circles around her red cup.

If I had been a bit smarter, I would have drawn an eclipse on the top of the cake with the extra frosting. Nevertheless, totally functional pinhole cameras were made!

orange curd:
3 egg yolks
3 T sugar
1/4 c blood orange juice
3 T Meyer lemon juice
pinch salt

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a small saucepan, the whisk in the juices and salt. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for several minutes until thick. Pour through a sieve into a small bowl and put in the fridge until needed. Makes 1/2 c curd.

1/2 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 oz dark chocolate (TJs pound plus), chopped
1 c hot coffee
3/4 c brown sugar
2/3 c plain Greek yogurt
2 t vanilla extract
1.75 c flour
1.5 t baking soda
1 t salt
1.5 sticks butter, softened
3/4 c white sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 300F. Choose your pans wisely: this amount of batter would fit comfortably in two 9" round, two 8" square, or two 8"x2" round pans, and it just barely didn't overflow my 8"x1.5" round pans (but only because they happen have a bit of a lip on top). Once you've made your choice, butter them, line the bottoms with parchment, and butter and flour that.

Place the cocoa powder and chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour in the coffee and stir until smooth, then stir in the brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Mix in the flour and chocolate in several alternating additions.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a tester comes out clean; 47-52 min for tall layers, presumably less time for shorter layers. Cool for a few minutes in the pans. Invert onto one wire rack (parchment side up) then invert onto another wire rack (parchment side down) to let cool completely. I wanted to go to bed at this point and the layers were flat enough to stack as is, so I placed one layer (parchment side down) on top of the other layer (still on a small wire rack), wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap, and let the package sit on the counter overnight.

8 oz dark chocolate (TJs pound plus), chopped
2 T blood orange marmalade, blended until smooth
1 c cream
1 t John's blood orange bitters

Place the chocolate and marmalade in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until about to boil, then pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit a few minutes to soften, then stir until smooth. Stir in the bitters. Let sit on the counter for an hour or two to set up.

3 egg whites
3/4 c sugar
2 sticks butter, slightly softened
orange curd

Same general idea as for the last cake. Place the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler and heat, whisking constantly, for 7 minutes. Pour into the stand mixer and whisk for several minutes until glossy and stiff peaks. Add the butter one chunk at a time, stopping as soon as the frosting gets fluffy. This makes 2 cups of frosting, which is more than you need to frost only the middle and top of the cake, so I left 1 c frosting in the mixer and put the other 1 c in a tupperware in the fridge for the next cake. Add the orange curd to the frosting in the mixer and beat until smooth.

For not-impossible transportation, I assembled this cake on a cardboard round cut out of a cereal box and placed on a round wire rack. Place one cake layer (parchment side down) on the cardboard and spread with half of the orange buttercream. Peel the parchment off the other layer, place on top of the first layer, and spread with the other half of the buttercream. (Next time I would split the cake layers in half and use the same amount of buttercream to spread in three thinner layers in between the cake layers, with no frosting on top.) Place in a cool place to set while you to go the farmers market. Microwave the ganache for 15 seconds if it's not pourable, and give it a good stir. Pour half the ganache in the center of the top of the cake and spread to the edges of the top, letting it start to drip down the sides. Pour on more ganache and push to the edges, smoothing the ganache around the sides when there's enough of it. This is about the right amount of ganache to generously cover the top and sides, with some extra glops on the cardboard here and there. Let set in the fridge if possible (but I didn't).

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