Last month we hosted a wedding shower for some dear friends. Barbecued brisket was the main event, eatingwise, along with sides of blue cheese coleslaw, a corn, tomato, and feta salad, fruit salad, and a cheese platter. I know from experience that one of the bride’s favorite flavors is raspberry; her favorite cake is a divine raspberry torte from Guglhupf, a local German restaurant & bakery. I’ve had that cake once before on her birthday and knew I couldn’t compete, so I went in a different direction. This chocolate raspberry cake was featured in the June 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. It has gotten excellent, and well-deserved, reviews on epicurious.com, so I felt comfortable making it as the dessert for the party.
This cake is pretty darn perfect. The layers are moist and thick, with a moderate chocolate flavor that works well with the intensity of the dark chocolate ganache. The final part of the recipe – regarding frosting the cake – seems complicated but I found the ganache easy to work with. I did wish for a little more raspberry flavor; I think cake layers could stand a little more jam than the 6 tbsp. called for in the recipe. The powdered sugar is fairly superfluous here; it melts almost immediately, at least in this summer heat, and the cake looks pretty good as is. You could easily omit it. Hope this cake makes its way onto your table!
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup water
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Ganache and raspberry topping:
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
6 tbsp. seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350ºF. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towels atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature).
For ganache and topping:
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 ¼ cups to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.
Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tbsp. jam over top. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly. Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.)
Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top before serving.
From Bon Appétit