Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Italian Buttercream Icing

Chocolate Cake

Last night, while Scott was working late, I made a chocolate cake for him to come home to. It was my second attempt at cake decorating, and I definitely learned from it.

I am quite pleased with how the frosting came out, both in texture and in appearance. I went back to the tutorial to remind me how to get it looking nice, with crisp edges. Also, although it tasted sweet on its own, it was more buttery and didn't seem sweet at all on the cake, which was a big surprise. The texture of the Italian Buttercream was great. It was scary to make but it worked!

I also learned a little more about piped decorations. Not only did I try making leaves for the first time, which I'm really pleased with, but I also learned a valuable lesson about short cuts. You see, when I was at the store, they had a clearance sale on the pre-made green and red icing tubes left over from Christmas, and I thought I'd pick two up to make red roses. Well, I guess it's just another sign that I shouldn't buy prepackaged foods, because the frosting in them was much more difficult to use than the frosting I used to decorate the previous cake. It seemed grainy, and it broke easily in the middle of a petal, but didn't break well when I stopped applying pressure. There was only a little frosting left over, and I piped the white roses with it. As I was doing so, I realized that I could mix some of the tubed frosting in for some quick color, and that's what I did with the leaves. I also learned from last time's terrible edging: I practiced the leaves a little on a plate before applying them directly to the cake. I had to scrape the frosting off the cake back into my piping bag just to have enough to work on the cake itself.

The cake itself was moist and tasty. Perhaps it was a little too moist, or under done, as one of the two pans of cake partially collapsed when I turned it out on the cooling rack. I was only able to salvage one layer from it, so this cake is a little shorter than the last one. On the other hand, I'm not sure how I would have frosted a cake with another layer, since I felt I was cutting it close as it was.

Sandy's Chocolate Cake from Whisk Kid
The recipe below will make two 6-inch layers. Doubling it will produce, two 9" layers.

1 1/3 c (166 g) flour
3/8 c (33 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (118 g) butter, room temp
1 1/2 c (213 g) brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c (157 ml) sour cream, room temp
2/3 c (157 ml) boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Oil and line either two 6-inch pans. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and add the sugar, then whip until lightened. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add in about a third of the dry ingredients, then half of the sour cream. Repeat, ending with the dry ingredients. Briefly stir in the boiling water, pour into pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Italian Meringue Buttercream from Whisk Kid
I used (and HIGHLY recommend) her step-by-step directions for making Italian Meringue Buttercream

1/4 c (63 ml) water
1 c (210 g) sugar
5 egg whites
1/4 c (53 g) sugar
1 c (237 g) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Heat the 1 c sugar and water on the stove to 245F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. When it is within the range of 230F to 235F, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, begin adding the remaining 1/4 c sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to overbeat. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After the syrup is fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp. Lower the speed to medium-low and begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next piece. The frosting will deflate a little, but it's ok. Once all the butter has been added, return the speed to high and keep whipping until the frosting comes together. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.

I'll admit, it was pretty scary trying to watch the temperature of the sugar with a thermometer made to clip onto the side of a deeper pot (so I had to hold it if I didn't want it touching the bottom), while also whipping the egg whites with a hand mixer, then pouring syrup at the hard ball stage into the egg whites I am mixing with the hand mixer. I was afraid my pan was too big, the syrup too shallow, shallow and the sugar would heat too quickly, not giving me enough time to whip the egg whites before reaching 245ºF. I was afraid my butter would be too cold again, so I turned up the thermostat and microwaved the butter a little. I had to beat that frosting for nearly 15 minutes after adding the butter before it came together, and that feels like an eternity when all you are doing is standing there holding the mixer, but it worked in the end, giving me a lovely, smooth, light and creamy frosting.


  1. That's a pretty cake! I had no idea making frosting was so involved.

    1. Thanks! I think it depends on the frosting.