Today, after a very proper early breakfast of organic oats + soy milk, I cut myself a thin slice of the birthday cake I'd baked for my boss and coworker (two birthdays two days apart = happy serendipity for this baker) -- and then went back for seconds. It was hard not to: think four layers of fluffy vanilla cake sandwiching thick, fudgey chocolate ganache and enrobed in a not-too-sweet coffee buttercream. Miam miam.
I ate my cake with a steaming hot cup of Blue Bottle coffee made by my Italians who run the Jackson Place Cafe from the alley-way next door -- but of course. And in fact, because the sun has finally made an appearance in San Francisco (no minor occurrence in July), I'm soon going back to treat myself to a soy latte + roasted vegetable panini for lunch. And I'm bringing them a hefty slice of this cake. Those who make my coffee -- and perfectly, I might add -- deserve a treat, too.
After, I might have a third piece of cake. It's Wednesday, after all -- though in truth you needn't an excuse to bake this cake any old day. It's simply good.
Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Buttercream Frosting
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 cups cake flour (sift and then measure)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsweetened butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch baking pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. Stir baking powder and salt into cake flour.
3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the four egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla to the mixture.
4. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated.
5. In another bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups chocolate chips
Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just before boiling. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk to melt all of the chocolate and to combine well. Let the ganache cool on the counter or in the fridge until thick and spreadable.
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons espresso or coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add the powdered sugar and combine well. Add the coffee and the vanilla. Add more sugar for consistency if desired. Add more coffee for consistency or to taste.
To assemble: cut each cake layer in half and fill with the ganache (you will divide the ganache into thirds when filling). Frost with the buttercream.
Yesterday I made the oatmeal cookies a second time with just a few amendments to the same recipe. Our friend Sandy gave us these good tips: the butter was (mostly) replaced with crunchy peanut butter and the flour replaced with oatmeal flour. I was also quite generous with the raisins. I made this batch at 'Crafternoon', a local get-together at my friend Naomi's place, where people bring their craft projects or baking projects, awesome idea.