Reprinted with permission from The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest’s Celebrated Bakery by Piper Davis with Ellen Jackson, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
This chocolate cake is truly a marvel. Not only is it luscious and moist, it bakes up beautifully in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the batter can be frozen without affecting the cake's flavor, texture, or ability to rise. At Grand Central, we use this formula to make cupcakes, layer cakes, kugelhopfs, sheet cakes, loaves, and, my favorite, a classic 12-cup Bundt cake drizzled with chocolate ganache. I'm usually not a stickler for fancy ingredients, but this cake deserves the best chocolate you can find.
Serves 14 to 16
Prepare to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Melt the chocolate.
Put the unsweetened and semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl suspended over a pot of barely simmering water for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the chocolate has melted and is completely smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine the dry ingredients. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light in color-almost beige-y white-and the texture is fluffy, about 2 to 4 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times during the process to ensure that the butter is evenly incorporated.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the eggs, letting them fall in one at a time and incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice during the process.
Add the chocolate.
Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture all at once and mix on low speed until slightly combined; you don't need to fully incorporate the chocolate at this point.
Alternate additions of the dry and wet ingredients.
Whisk the sour cream and coffee together to achieve a smooth, room temperature liquid. (Adding too much of a cold ingredient can cause the chocolate to seize.) With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Add half of the sour cream mixture, mixing to combine. Repeat, using half of the remaining dry ingredients and all of the remaining wet ingredients, mixing after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stop the mixer before they're fully incorporated. Add the milk chocolate chips and finish mixing by hand, using a sturdy spatula and being sure to scrape up from the bottom of the bowl.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The cake is ready when it begins to pull away from the edges of the pan slightly and springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The top will probably split; use a cake tester to check doneness. Unlike with most cakes, the tester probably won't come out clean because of the melted chocolate chips. Refer to the Cake Mixing workshop on page 145 for additional doneness cues. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before making the ganache.
Make the ganache.
Put the chocolate in a shallow bowl. Put the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until a skin forms, then immediately pour it over the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for a few minutes, then stir gently. The ganache should be glossy and have a smooth texture. If any chunks of chocolate remain, place the bowl over simmering water briefly and stir until melted.
Glaze the cake.
Turn the cake out and glaze it on a rack, if you have one. Place the rack on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Pour the ganache over the crown of the cake in one deliberate motion, distributing it as evenly as possible all the way around. Let the glaze set up for 20 minutes before transferring the cake to a plate or cake stand.
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