March 18, 2009

Black Forest Cake (done dairy-free)

I love getting the honor of cake duty. It gives me a chance to bake something and it's a relief knowing there will be cake for my dairy allergic son to enjoy. While I know my stuff when it comes to making a cake tasty I'm unfortunately still learning a lot about layer cake construction and decorating. About a month ago I made a cake for my niece and nephew's joint 18th birthday party. It was a layer cake made with my favorite chocolate cake recipe, around here we call it "THE Cake". I filled it with a super thick layer of marshmallowy meringue frosting and covered it with dairy-free chocolate butter cream. At home it looked picture perfect but metro Detroit is ever spreading and that super thick layer of filling combined with the egg-free cake didn't survive the trip across town. The filling smooshed out the sides and it arrived a big mess, though at least it was still delicious. It was my own personal Ace of Cakes style nightmare and I was devastated.

For my next shot a cake duty I was on a mission to redeem myself. The cake request was for chocolate with fruit so I decided to make a Black Forest cake using my last pack of frozen Traverse City organic sour cherries. For the cake layers, I went with my second favorite chocolate cake which is more structurally sound due to eggs in the recipe and a yogurt cake that has been super popular with my son Alex recently. I made fudge filling for one set of layers and cooked the cherries with sugar and tapioca starch to make a cherry filling. Then I frosted the exterior of the cake with meringue frosting. I flavored both the yogurt cake and the meringue frosting with Grand Marnier, plus a little orange extract in the cake.

Despite a little snag where I would have liked more meringue frosting for decorating the outside-- the cake came out great! I liked the tiny touch of orange/Grand Marnier flavor. The yogurt cake has quickly become my son Alex's favorite cake. He gobbled up the extra unfrosted cupcakes and was full of praise for them. I was careful to not overfill the inside though I think next time I'm going to try cutting all the layers in half and adding more thin amounts of filling. The best part is that the cake survived an hour on my lap in the car!

The cherry on top
A cut slice of cake: two chocolate layers, a Grand Marnier yogurt cake layer, fudge filling, Traverse City organic sour cherry filling, frosted with Grand Marnier meringue frosting, decorated with semi-sweet chocolate curls and maraschino cherries

French-style Yogurt Cake
This recipe is adapted from Orangette. So far I've made this with lemon and orange with Grand Marnier but I think it could also be adapted easily to make a tasty vanilla cake.
Makes 1 (9-inch round) cake layer, for the thinner layer in the Black Forest cake I made 4 cupcakes along with the 9-inch cake.

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup yogurt (I use vanilla or plain So Delicious coconut milk yogurt)
1/2 cup neutral oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest or substitute with 1/4 teaspoon orange extract, 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
-Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
-Beat the eggs until light colored and fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes on a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
-Add the sugar, yogurt, oil and flavorings to the beaten eggs and beat just a little to combine.
-Add in the dry ingredients and beat just until a smooth batter forms.
-Spray the cake pan with spray oil and pour in the batter. Gently knock the pan to release any large air bubbles.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just 1-2 crumbs attached.
-Cool for 10-20 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Layer Cake
This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen. It's my second favorite chocolate cake that I use when I want to make a cake with multiple layers that is more structurally sound.
Makes 2 (9-inch round) cake layers

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

-Preheat your oven 300 degrees F and line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment.
-In two separate cups, mix the soy milk with the vinegar and the hot coffee with the chocolate. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. The vinegar will clabber the milk and the chocolate will melt in the hot coffee. Stir the coffee cup at least once.
-Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. I recommend double sifting these ingredients.
-Beat the eggs in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes until light colored and fluffy.
-Add the coffee mixture, which should be lukewarm, the clabbered soy milk, the oil and the vanilla to the eggs. Beat a small amount to mix together.
-Add the sifted dry ingredients in three doses, beating between each addition a little to almost combine. Beat again until the batter is smooth but do not over beat.
-Spray the lined cake pans with spray oil and fill evenly with the cake batter.
-Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just 1-2 crumbs attached. Rotate the cake pans after 20 minutes for more even baking.
-Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove and cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Meringue or Seven-Minute Frosting
Also adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I didn't have as much frosting as I would have liked and would suggest making a double batch for a three layer cake.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

-Set up a double boiler with a saucepan and a large bowl. Bring the water in the saucepan to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer.
-Add all the ingredients to the large bowl and set on the saucepan. Beat with a handheld mixer on high until frosting is thick, creamy white and fluffy, for approximately 7 minutes.
-Remove the bowl from saucepan and beat until mostly cool.

Fudge Cake Filling
Makes enough to fill 1 layer in a 9-inch layer cake

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine (or butter if you can use it)
1/4 cup milk (Silk soy milk for us)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I recommend Wholesome Sweeteners, theirs has no HFCS)

-Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. You will see the grains of sugar disappear and the mixture will start to bubble.
-Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
-Remove from the heat and pour into a metal bowl. Cool the mixture most of the way, stirring occasionally.
-Use as a filling for layer cakes.

Cake tales are never all sunshine and lollypops.
I was washing up the next morning and chewed up my favorite piping tip in the garbage disposal. *sniff*

I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes, an event started by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen's Experiments. Visit the new Bookmarked Recipes site on Monday for the roundup of other bookmarked and tested recipes. This week’s round up will be hosted by Cristie at Edible Antics - Having Fun with Food.