07 May, 2011

Chocolate Cake

It seems that searching for the perfect chocolate cake recipe is much harder than you think. I'm telling you... it's really tough.

Chocolate Cake = The Holy Grail?
I've baked two chocolate cakes this week for one birthday celebration, but somehow the cakes didn't quite hit the mark.

I happened to discover Seven Spoons earlier this week whilst perusing another blog. Take a look, it's beautiful. Anyway, I scoured the recipe section and found a handful of recipes for chocolate cake. After reading each post I realised that I'm not the only gal in search of chocolate baked perfection.

The first cake I thought about baking was Beatty's Chocolate Cake from Ina Garten. Now, I have baked this cake before but it was quite a while ago. Unfortunately, during baking it exploded all over my poor little oven - I've never quite recovered. I can remember tasting part of the cake and being very disappointed as it tasted like, what can only be described as 'faux cake' (sorry Betty), I didn't want to go there again so I decided to bake the next cake on the list.

This cake seemed really promising. The recipe can be found here, and with over 1400 positive reviews I admit that I was getting a teeny bit excited, as you can imagine. The ingredients for this cake makes a 10" round, but I only needed enough for an 8"- not knowing how to scale down cake sizes I just got straight into the baking... 12 cupcakes, an 8" cake and a single layer of 6" cake later, I was done. I just had to wait just a little longer to try 'everyones "go-to" chocolate cake' - I couldn't bear it! I threw together a coffee whipped cream which would be lovely inside the cake and finally, once the cakes had cooled, I sandwiched them together and cut my first slice...

Well, I want to be honest here, it tasted just like Ina's cake. In my humble opinion 'just add water' cakes does not a good cake make. I want that baked from scratch, homely satisfying taste from my cakes and unfortunately it didn't deliver. I feel I must apologise to those 1400 people that have raved about the cake, but sorry peeps I'm not a fan. The cake was beautifully dark and moist, but texture wise it was too crumbly. I'm looking for cake with substance, that can hold up to a smothering of icing and a blanket of sugarpaste without wilting under its own weight. I'm afraid, this cake didn't make the cut for the birthday celebration. I can report, however, that the coffee whipped cream worked a treat and perhaps saved the cake from being banished from my kitchen.

And so, to the second cake. I moved away from Seven Spoons and onto more familiar culinary territory - Nigella Lawson. Her old fashioned chocolate cake sounded divine, and the use of sour cream in the mix could only be heavenly. This recipe only called for an 8" round cake rather than a 10", thankfully - there is only so much cake a girl can eat. Could this be the cake?

It baked up beautifully in the tins and the smell was wonderful. A little paler in colour than the first cake and seemed to be firmer in texture, I decided that I would use this for the birthday cake. Upon tasting I was once again a bit disappointed. The chocolate flavour wasn't as pronounced as I'd hoped, it somehow lacked in depth which I thought the sour cream would have brought. It went down well with the birthday girl, but this here girl baker is still on the lookout for that elusive chocolate cake recipe...

Do you have a favourite recipe for chocolate cake that you couldn't live without? Or, like me, are you still trying to track down the best chocolate cake ever?

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