Friday was my birfday. I'm the grand old age of 26 now. :) My husband made dinner, I received some sweet cards and some lovely gifts from my family including a pretty pashmina, a pair of kickin' new boots to sport until the snow flies...
Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. It's a quick, light, and encouraging read; I'm about halfway through. More thoughts when I finish. My parents also returned from a vacation in Italy with a new apron for me, with pictures of gelato all over it. I told them that I wanted them to bring back some gelato, and they certainly did their best. :)
Even without any real gelato, my sweet tooth is feeling pretty satisfied. Though I make birthday desserts for everyone else, my own have typically come from a store. That's always been my choice, but last year's cake was a little underwhelming. So, this year, though my husband offered to make or buy something for me, I decided I wanted to have some fun and whip up my birthday treat myself. I know I'm in good company among other food bloggers on this point; it's hard to beat homemade and if you love to bake, another chance to do it is nothing to scoff at.
I decided on Dorie's Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake for my birthday dessert. I was drawn to it for a few reasons. It was chocolate, and I've loved pretty much everything I've made from Baking so I knew I could count on it to be pretty good. The smaller size was also preferable to a big multi-layer cake on this occasion because only a few people would be eating it. It also looked like it would freeze well, and that's exactly what I've done with the dangerous leftovers. I made just two tiny changes/additions to the cake recipe, but I made a totally different frosting after seeing very mixed reviews of the semisweet and sour cream frosting the cookbook suggests.
The fudge frosting I made is similar to something I often top brownies with, and tasted great with the cake. It was, however, a little harder to decorate with as it sets up quickly. The corners in particular were challenging, but I'll take a rustic looking cake that tastes delicious over a store bought cake that looks immaculate but tastes "eh" any day.
Chocolate Loaf Cake with Fudge Frosting (adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan)
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 c. AP flour
- 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used something called Black Cocoa, which has about half the cocoa butter and yields a super dark and super chocolaty result; next time I'd do half and half)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 tsp. instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 T. hot water (my optional addition, I think just a touch of coffee brings out the chocolaty-ness of chocolate)
- 1/3 c. raspberry preserves
- 1 tsp. water
For the frosting:
- 5 T. unsalted butter
- 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 c. milk chocolate chips
- 2 c. confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- heavy cream
- 1/3-1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (optional, for decoration)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 1/2"x5" loaf pan. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet and set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until they just disappear. Give the batter a last stir with a spatula and scrape into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, you can cover it with a foil tent for some of the baking time. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- When you're ready to finish the cake, bring the jam and water to a boil over low heat or in a microwave. Remove from heat and stir it till smooth.
- Cut the cooled cake into 3 even layers with a sharp bread knife.
- The top of the cake will become the bottom layer. Put the first layer, originally the top of the cake, cut side up on a serving plate and spread with half the raspberry preserves. Cover with the middle layer and the rest of the jam. Lift the top layer into place, cut side down.
To make the frosting:
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth.
- Remove from heat and quickly add the milk chocolate. Allow to sit for just a few seconds, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.
- Stir in the powdered sugar, adding heavy cream as needed to make frosting smooth and spreadable. Use immediately to frost top and sides of cake.
- Top/cover with mini chocolate chips, if desired.
As usual, linking up with: