The cake-baking experience

On the whole, my double-chocolate layer cake turned out ok. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either, so I think that counts for something. If you should ever attempt the recipe (linked above), here are a few things I learned. First of all, this cake tasted far better than any other from-scratch cake I’ve made. Last night, I whipped up the batter, frosting, and raspberry filling.

Let me just tell you, I’m a big fan of raw batters for cakes, cookies, and pretty much anything else that contains raw eggs. This cake batter was just divine. I licked the bowl, beater, rubber spatula, etc. Yum. Once the batter was divided into two layers and safely in the oven, I got to work on the frosting and filling. This is where the amounts suggested in the recipe need some tweaking. Smitten Kitchen suggested adding the raspberry filling and said that if you were going to do so, you should cut the amounts in half for the chocolate frosting. In retrospect I wish I’d done the exact opposite–cut the filling in half and made the full amount of frosting. But more on that later.

The raspberries were just so pretty in the blender, and the resulting filling was a beautiful color. We have a lot left over, but I think it’ll go well on ice cream or waffles. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Given that I don’t care for things that are too sweet, I was worried this wouldn’t really be edible without the cake. I did end up using 24 ounces of raspberries, instead of 20 (just because that’s how they came and I was too lazy to remove the extra 4 ounces!).

Meanwhile, I was keeping a close eye on the happenings in the oven. I’m not sure if my oven is old, or just cheap, but it’s your pretty typical unreliable city apartment oven. Generally if I can coax it to the appropriate temperature, it’ll stay put. I have, however, ruined more than a few meals because the oven spontaneously decides to pump itself up to 500 degrees. At least I know that now! The temperature stayed fine throughout, but I was worried the cakes were going to overflow! They didn’t, but I think they were close. They were sort of brimming over the edges of the pans, almost like big, flat muffins.

Exactly 1 hour was the perfect amount of baking time. Of course, by the time the cakes were out of the oven and even remotely cool, it was pretty late and my kitchen was covered in various coatings of cake ingredients. We celebrated Andy’s birthday at midnight, and I covered the cakes and put the filling and frosting in the refrigerator.

Which brings me to today, which is when pretty much all of my problems with this recipe came to a head. First, by the time I got the cakes out of their pans, I realized that there way no way I would be brave enough to split them in half. They were just too soft and crumbly (mmm…). So, I decided that the raspberry filling would just go between the two layers, which didn’t even begin to make a dent in the massive amount of raspberry filling I’d made last night!

Note the leftover filling in the background. Next time, I won’t buy $12 worth of raspberries! I should note that I used fresh, rather than the frozen listed in the recipe. And yes, the cake is perched rather precariously on the edge of the counter. No, it did not come crashing down shortly after I took this picture.

Once the filling was in place, I plopped the second layer on top and began to apply the chocolate frosting. I had taken it out of the refrigerator about an hour before working with it, but it was still pretty solid. About 30 seconds in the microwave brought it to a nice, workable consistency. As I started to get into applying the frosting, I began to think there was just no way there’d be enough to cover this whole cake. At that point, Andy wandered into the kitchen and scraped every last bit from the bowl. I tried to spread it as thin as I could, but about a third of my cake was left unfrosted on the side!

In retrospect, it’s sort of amusing. I mean, it’s like this lovely cake on one side, and on the other side it’s a blood-thirsty baked good! I have to admit to being fairly upset at the time, just because I so wanted this cake to be perfect, but I guess I didn’t want that badly enough to whip up more frosting. I forged on to decorate the cake and decided I would only take pictures from one angle once I finished!

All things considered I’m pretty happy with the way this cake turned out. Especially if you only look at it from the front.

The best part was when Andy blew out his candles, and the little sugar confetti bits flew everywhere–much to his surprise, and mine! It was a little percussive addition as they fell to the table and floor.

The bottom line, though, is that this cake tastes AMAZING. No cosmetic glitches could stop me from enjoying its moist, crumbly, chocolatey goodness. If you’re looking for a cake a recipe that will really wow the recipient, I highly recommend this one. It wasn’t nearly as dense as most from-scratch cakes. If you like box mix cakes for their spongy moistness, you’ll really love this cake. I think you can taste the extra effort required to get it just right.

Next time, though, I’m experimenting before trying a new recipe on an important occasion.


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