July 26, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Orange Buttercream

For three days all I did was think about cake. And buttercream. Oh, and chocolate ganache. All because of that cookbook of mine. The one that inspired (read: forced) me to make that banana layer cake

This one was a little more complicated though. I had never made chocolate ganache, and the word 'ganache' just made me nervous. Me, a ganache maker? Really?

And then there was the orange curd for the french buttercream. Buttercream with uncooked egg whites and all. So I really had to think about this one.

I stuck with the ganache and kept the orange curd, but switched the egg whites to non-egg buttercream. The rumor is that buttercream made with whipped egg whites and butter won't do well in 100 degree weather. I felt justified, since this cake was going to a backyard BBQ on a hot Saturday afternoon. 

I baked the devil's food cake layers on Thursday, prepared the orange curd for the frosting and filled the cake with chocolate orange ganache on Friday, and finally whipped up the buttercream on Saturday. 

Devil's Food Cake (original recipe here)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two (I used three) 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. (You can line bottoms with parchment paper and grease again. I didn't and it turned out just fine.)
2. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk wet ingredients together and pour into dry ingredients. Stir just to blend. Divide batter between prepared pans. (About 3 cups each if using two pans, 2 cups each if three pans.)
3. Bake until tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes for two pans, 20 minutes for three pans. If cakes form domes, place a kitchen towel atop hot cakes and press gently with your palm to level. Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

Chocolate Orange Ganache (original recipe here)

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped (do not exceed 61% cocoa)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 Tbsp orange-flavored liquor OR 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice plus 1/4 tsp orange extract

1. Place chocolate, butter, zest and liquor in a lbowl. Set a side.
2. In a small sauce pan, bring cream to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted. Chill ganache until just cool, for about 40 minutes.
3. Beat ganache with electric mixer just until light and fluffy before using. (Do not overbeat or it will become grainy)

Orange Curd

5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

In a small heavy saucepan whisk together yolks, sugar, orange juice, butter and salt. Cook mixture over moderately low heat, whisking, until it just reaches boiling point 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let boil! Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and whisk in lemon juice. Cool curd, its surface covered with wax paper or plastic wrap, at least for 4 hours and up to 2 days


1 cup shortening
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 fl oz heavy cream (that's 12 tablespoons, or 3/4 cup)

2 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
Prepared orange curd

1. Cream shortening and butter until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until well blended.
2. Add salt and cream, blend on low speed until moistened. Then beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy, again for about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Add orange curd and zest and beat until well incorporated.

NOTE: If you frost the cake as I did you'll only need half of the buttercream. I just split the buttercream recipe in half and added only half of the orange cream. Or you could just make two cakes. Cake for everyone!


Place one cake layer on plate, top with ganache. Follow with another layer and top again with ganache. Place third layer on top and frost top and sides with thin layer of buttercream (crumb coating). Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then frost with buttercream and smooth surface. Chill again. Pipe decorative borders with leftover frosting. Chill cake for at least 6 hours, then let cake stand in cool room temperature 2 to 4 hours before serving.


The cake was good, maybe a little dry since it was two days old. I will use the recipe again though.

The ganache was a bit dark for me and ended up being quite hard in the cake. Next time I'll make a milk chocolate ganache with orange and add a bit more cream. But if you're a dark chocolate lover, go for it! And it was so easy to make. 

The frosting was smooth and creamy, and I'm planning to use it as my basic buttercream from now on. I love the curd and am interested in trying to mix it with just whipped cream to fill a cake with.

I got to serve this fancy cake of mine from styrofoam plates. Awesome! 

p.s. Here's a link to a site that lists substitutes for alcohol in cooking and baking. It'll sure come handy in my kitchen! 

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