School has started up again in South Texas. My friend, Jane's, daughter is a senior this year, so I wanted to make her a little something special to celebrate the day! Plus, as you know, I'm looking for any reason these days to bake for other people! :)
I saw this 4 layer, mini-cake in Bon Appetit awhile back and thought it was SO CUTE! It looks just like one of those cakes we made with the "Easy Bake Oven" only on steroids. Jane's daughter is a real chocolate lover, so I thought this would be the perfect treat!
It was so easy to make this cake! I thought the layers would be tricky, but the "trick" is to use two bamboo skewers (the kind you use for kabobs on the grill)! Just push them in through the top of the cake and it stabilizes all four layers while you frost the sides. When everything is frosted, just pull the skewers out and frost over the holes-- Yay! No "leaning tower"!
I'm not sure how many people this cake will serve. Maybe four if the recipient is generous. Maybe one if you feel like just digging in all by yourself :)
4 Layer Mini Devil's Food Cake (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbl. cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour-- Sift to remove lumps-- I didn't do that and you can detect small white bits in the baked cake-- live and learn:(
1/2 tsp. baking soda
dash of salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter
5 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups or so of powdered sugar
2 thin skewers (The bamboo type for grilled meats work great!)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray 4 mini-layer cake pans (5" diameter, 2" deep-- they are usually springform-- like for mini-cheesecakes) with Pam.
Put the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over. Allow to sit awhile and then whisk to combine well.
Cream the butter and brown sugar about 3 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla and mix well. Add the flours, baking soda, and salt and beat just a bit, then pour in the chocolate mixture. Beat everything together until smooth, but don't overbeat. Pour into the prepared pans. Set them on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they test done with a toothpick. Don't underbake them though because they need to be firm enough to stack up!
Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out on a rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting by beating the butter until fluffy. Add about 3 cups powdered sugar, the vanilla, melted chocolate, and 2 Tbl. milk. Beat well, adding milk and / or powdered sugar to make a smooth, fluffy frosting.
Put one cake layer top side down, on a small plate. Frost the top generously, then put the next layer, on the same way. Repeat with the third layer, then put the fourth layer top side up.
Push two skewers through the whole cake, each a little to the right or left of center. This will keep the cake layers straight. Hold the skewer tops while you gently frost the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Refrigerate the cake about 15 minutes to set the frosting. Now you can frost the whole cake generously without getting things all "crumb-y". Frost the top of the cake with the skewers still in it. Refrigerate the cake again about 15 minutes. Remove the skewers and frost over the holes with little dabs of frosting. Refrigerate the cake at least an hour to set the frosting well, but it tastes better if you leave it out awhile before serving so it's not super cold.
Present to the nearest chocoholic!