Sunday, November 22, 2009

"So when the recipe says..."

I've been through many bakeries where I live, and I haven't found THE ONE. I find many cakes (and especially frostings) way too sweet. So this year, I decided to take the matter into my own hands- I decided to make my own birthday cake. Within the last few weeks, I've been pouring over countless recipes, trying to decide which cake would make the cut. I finally decided between 2 desserts- German Chocolate Cake vs. French Silk Pie... and German Chocolate Cake won. With its coconut-pecan topping, chocolate ganache glaze and frosting, and moist, tender chocolate cake layers- how could this not be a good choice? I also wanted to refresh my Wilton Cake Decorating skills so this cake recipe was the chosen one (at least for this birthday year).

When I told my DB that I was planning to make my own birthday cake (at this point, he had no idea I had already picked the cake), he said that I shouldn't be making my own and he offered to make it for me. At this point, my mind started racing- the cake wasn't difficult, but it included more ingredients and way more steps than the French Silk Pie- should I just give him the Pie recipe, or stick to what I wanted, which was the Cake? He said he wanted to make what I wanted, so I (hesitantly) handed him over the Cake recipe. That evening, he asked me if I could email him the recipe file- I was thinking, kind of odd since he already had a paper copy, but I complied. A few minutes later, he asked me- "So, when the recipe says... 4 large eggs, separated, does that mean you need to separate the yolks from the whites?" I just about died laughing, though looking back, I know that could be an honest question from someone who doesn't bake.

To round out the story- the reason why he asked me to email the recipe to him was because any words/terminology he didn't understand, he was Googling them so he could. Adorable, and what an effort! He did ask me if I had a back-up recipe (French Silk Pie), but I assured him that he (and the cake) would turn out fine.

7 hours later (yes, you read that right- he worked on this from 7pm-2am with no breaks AND took pictures for the blog).... He had baked, frosted, and the final product was complete! I have to admit- This cake was the absolute best. Not only because he lovingly worked on it for so long, but truly- this is the best German Chocolate cake I've ever had. Hands down. My DB, who doesn't even like coconut, loved it. He did a wonderful job, and albeit he was tired, he still decorated it using his Wilton Cake Decorating skills and piping bags/tips.

Continue to read below as he documents his steps (I didn't include all the pictures- just the "highlights") and the tips he learned from making this cake:

I don't like to be rushed when cooking/baking, so I pre-set all the ingredients the morning of:

Here I am mid-stream:

Here is my recipe- splattered and greased from baking (this is only page #1 of 2 very full pages of ingredients and instructions):

This is only 1 set (of 3 sets of dishes I did to make the cake):

My completed masterpiece!

Some tips I would like to share with you in making this recipe:
1. Rum syrup- There was A LOT leftover. I recommend halving the recipe (halved recipe below).
2. Chocolate icing- The icing had a "pourable" consistency. I recommend making the icing FIRST so it has ample time to set and harden in the fridge while the cake is being made, baked, and cooled down.
3. YouTube will be your best cooking tool- "The coconut and pecans need to be toasted? Huh? What?"- I learned how to do both of these via videos. Yes, Youtube. FYI- Coconut burns easily so keep a close eye on it, and take the pecans out when they turn fragrant.
4. 1 cup pecans does NOT equal 1 cup chopped pecans.
5. If you've baked before, it won't take you 7+ hours to complete.

For the cake
2-oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped (Used semi-sweet chocolate)
2-oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp water
8-oz(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3-oz (6 Tbsp) butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted (Used sweetened, shredded coconut)

For the syrup
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbsp dark rum

For the chocolate icing
8-oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (Used bittersweet chocolate)
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1-½ oz (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake
1. Butter (2) 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
3. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 Tbsp of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1-¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
6. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

8. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.
9. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there's no trace of egg white visible.

10. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

11. Cool cake layers completely.

12. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing. (NOTE: I would DEFINITELY make the icing first, so you can refrigerate it to harden a little.)

To make the filling
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.

2. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
3. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

4. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted.

5. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing
1. Place the 8-oz of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1-½ oz of butter.
2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil.
3. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth.
4. Let sit until room temperature.

To assemble the cake
1. Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.

2. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup.

3. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

4. Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

5. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Source: David Lebovitz, as seen on Annie's Eats


Erin said...

Now that's love! Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

What dedication. Happy Birthday!

Bridget said...

Wow, that is so nice, and the cake looks amazing!

Lauren said...

This is the sweetest post EVER. LOVE it! And Happy Birthday!!

Lisa Oh said...

OMG!! I loved this entry. Darin kudos to you! I may have to direct my LP to this entry:) Great job. Happy birthday Sara, again:) miss you

Naomi said...

You have an amazing guy! Darin - your cake was incredible!! And this is coming from someone who doesn't like coconut. I told Sara that I wish you had given us some leftover cake!

Dorothy said...

Wow, what a trooper! You've got a "keeper" there :) Cake looks fantastic!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dorothy said...

Since you don't like sweet frostings, have you tried Swiss Meringue Buttercream? It's fantastic--rich, creamy, and gently sweet.

Also...I named you for the "Kreativ Blogger" award! Love your blog, though I'm more of a lurker than a commenter :) Here's the link if you want to grab the badge for your page:

Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

The cake looks good. But your decorating could use some work :) I own a popular wedding cake bakery in LA, Cali but you seem to love baking, keep it up :)

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