A cake to fill the void

I went to three weddings this month. I love weddings. I've been accused of befriending people just as they get engaged just so I can watch them marry.

I really do love the weddings because of the marriage. The music, the vows, the embrace, the crying, the smiles, the pride. It gets me all tingly inside.

But a nice little bonus to the celebration is enjoying the food. I usually focus on the entree, maybe the pasta course or antipasti buffet. By the time the music starts, I probably look around for a guy holding the coffee so I can enjoy it with a couple bites of dessert before I hit the dance floor.  And then any sweet table following that is usually wasted on me.

Except for the wedding I attended this past weekend.

The cupcakes were made by my incredibly talented cousin, Emily. Maybe she put some extra love into the cupcakes (and jumbo cupcake for the bride and groom to cut) since this was a family wedding, but I ate three of them they were so good. They're big. With an almost 1:1 cake to icing ratio. And oh so moist. Actually, I'm pretty sure I ate four.

Dustin and I have been dreaming about them for days. Look: I'm even writing about them. And since I still hadn't baked a cake to celebrate our 6th year anniversary, I decided to try and bake a cake that was almost as tasty to remind me of those oh-so-good wedding cupcakes. Something moist and so rich you need milk or coffee to help you out, but you always go back for more.

It's been years since I've baked Ina's "Beatty's Chocolate Cake" found in her pink cookbook (my fave). I remembered it to be the best chocolate cake I had baked. I remembered the buttercream icing to be pretty darn good. I remembered that I had some buttermilk in the fridge that needed to be used.

The batter for the cake is surprisingly thin. Maybe that's what good chocolate cake batter should be like? No matter, it turned out so incredibly moist. It still didn't have that creaminess that Emily's cake had after it warmed up in your mouth, and the icing wasn't as delicious (she had a coconut icing and a caramel icing on her cupcakes) but it was good enough for me to eat two slices today.

I'm ordering a batch of cupcakes from Emily for my freezer. Until then, this chocolate cake with autumnal sprinkles is satisfying the void.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake 

by Ina Garten (with slight changes to the icing)


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tsp instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.