Having a bad morning? Chocolate cake always makes things better I find, and this one is a complete doozy – dense, moist and fudgey with smoky almost indiscernible undertones of coffee. See, you’re feeling better already. And hardly any carbs I’m sure.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve told you yet about Book Larder. It’s a fabulous new Seattle shop modelled on my darling Books for Cooks in London, which I used to live round the corner from and still sorely miss. Book Larder not only offers an amazing range of both popular and hard-to-come-by cookbooks, it also hosts a number of events and demonstrations from famous cookbook authors and chefs.
Last week, they were hosting a book signing for food blogger Joy the Baker and I was asked if I wanted to bake something for the event from the Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
It’s a wonderful book, chock full of original and droolworthy comfort food recipes written in Joy’s chatty style with an accompanying photo for every dish and lots of excellent baking tips. It’s also very American, featuring lots of maple syrup, bacon and peanut butter, cookies, marshmallows and waffles, to the extent that I was a little intimidated. What is a ‘toasted coconut Dutch baby with banana and pineapple’ when it’s at home? What the heck is a ‘buttermilk skillet cake with walnut praline topping’ supposed to taste like?
I decided to test the book out properly by making a bundt cake. Bundt cakes are ubiquitous in the US but I’ve never come across them in the UK and certainly never made one. Could Joy the Baker teach this English girl how to bake a bundt? (This was of course mostly a good excuse to buy myself a fancy bundt pan)
As far as I understand it, a bundt cake is just a cake baked in a bundt tin, which was traditionally a ring-shaped ridged affair. In the US you can nowadays buy bundt pans in the shape of forts or football stadiums, roses or pumpkins – the challenge with all of them is making sure that the giant slab of cake with no filling is moist and decadent rather than dry and dull. I needn’t have worried. Joy’s recipe features sour cream, vegetable oil and freshly-brewed coffee, which makes for a very wet batter and a delectably moist cake. In fact, having had some cake in the fridge for a few days now, I can confirm that it just gets moister and fudgier and more delicious with keeping.
I was also nervous about getting the thing out of the pan. After taking lots of advice on Twitter (thanks particularly to Jeanne Sauvage aka @fourchickens) I brushed the pan with melted butter, sprayed it with Bake Easy for good measure and floured it to within an inch of its life. I then took Joy’s advice (she has a whole section on getting bundts out of tins) to wait for 20 minutes while the cake cooled in the pan before taking it out. As a result of all this advice, both cakes I made just slid out of the pans with no fuss. Aren’t they pretty? I nearly burst with pride and couldn’t stop patting them. It seemed almost a shame to glaze them at all.
Joy’s bundt is finished with a chocolate coffee ganache. This almost caused a bit of a commotion by refusing to set, meaning that I turned up for the event with only five minutes to spare. If you’re making this for an event I suggest you make it the day before. The cake honestly improves with fridging and then you won’t have a last-minute ganache-fuelled panic.
The glaze is also maybe the one thing I’d change about the cake. The cake and ganache are surprisingly unsweet and sophisticated, perfect for adult tastes, but the Minx has declared that she doesn’t much like the mocha frosting. If making this again with kids in mind I would replace the sour cream and coffee with normal cream for a sweeter frosting. If you’re catering for adults though this is perfect as is.
Sorry non-American peeps, I didn’t have time to make the conversions from cups to weight. Time to get out those cup measures again!
Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze
makes one 10-inch bundt cake
For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups freshly brewed hot coffee
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti which is just insanely good)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking (bicarbonate of) soda
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil
For the Glaze:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
4 tablespoons freshly-brewed hot coffee
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (see above) and set aside.
To make the cake:
In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, whisk together the sugar and eggs until thick and pale. . Add the sour cream and oil and whisk until well incorporated.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until the flour is well incorporated. Add the cooled coffee mixture and gently mix to incorporate. The batter should be loose and smooth.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for around 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack. Cake should be completely cooled before frosting.
To make the glaze:
Bring 2 inches of water to simmer in a medium pan. Place the chopped chocolate (I used chips) and butter into a heatproof bowl. Place over the simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water. Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool for around 20 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the hot coffee, followed by the sour cream. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coffee and stir until glossy.
This ganache will be very liquid and will need to spend half an hour or so in the fridge before it’s ready to be spread on the cakes, and will probably need an hour or so in the fridge subsequently if you’re planning on transporting the cake anywhere.
This is where I admit that I actually wasn’t a reader of Joy’s blog (I’ve started now though – I love her ‘voice’). It seems there are a ton of people who are though. It was standing room only to meet her.
Please don’t look at the picture of me. My hair was suffering from being raked-through too often by my fingers during my ganache-fuelled panic.