I tend to place chocolate cakes into two categories: liquid fat and solid fat cakes. Liquid fat cakes contain either oil or melted butter and tend to have a more open crumb while solid fat cakes, with batter that can hold tiny air bubbles, tend to have a finer more delicate crumb. This is a solid fat chocolate cake with a tender, fine crumb and rich chocolate flavor. A combination of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa strike a nice balance with the flavorful buttermilk. Blooming the cocoa and chocolate in hot water also helps bring the chocolate flavors to the forefront. Using solid butter offers two advantages. First, it incorporates fine air pockets into the batter which leads to a finer crumb and second, it allows for thorough emulsification of the eggs. A well emulsified egg-fat combination improves texture and fat distribution throughout the cake.This cake is fine and delicate enough to serve as a wedding cake, but its rich chocolate flavor makes it bold enough for casual gatherings as well. This cake is not very sweet which allows it to pair nicely with the rich Butterscotch Buttercream.
A quick note on pan sizes. The recipe calls for the cake to be baked in two 8-inch pans, but this photo shows three layers which are actually 6 inches around each. You can bake the cake in three 6-inch layers or you can make 1 1/2 times the batter if you would like three 8-inch layers.
- 2 ounces (57 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder- ½ cup
- 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, broken (about 60% cocoa)
- ¾ cup (180 milliliters) hot water
- 14 ounces (397 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) buttermilk, cold
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter softened-1 cup
- 4 large eggs
- 10 ounces (284 grams) all-purpose/plain flour-2 cups
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon (3 milliliters) baking powder
- 4 ounces (113 grams) unsalted butter- ½ cup
- 8 ounces (226 grams) brown sugar-1 cup
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) corn syrup
- ¼ cup (60 milliliters) whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 9 ounces (255 grams) Butterscotch Sauce
- 4 ounces (113 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 ounces (113 grams) brown sugar
- 8 ounces (227 grams) egg whites
- 16 ounces (454 grams) unsalted butter, cool room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray two 8-inch round cake pans* with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- In a large, about 8-cup or 1.5 liter, microwave safe container heat cocoa powder, chocolate and hot water for 30 seconds and then whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in sugar and then buttermilk and vanilla until fully incorporated.
- In a mixer bowl beat butter for 30 seconds on medium high power to lighten and then add the eggs one at a time with the mixer on medium until they are incorporated. Sprinkle in flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix with the with the flat beater until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Once it is all added, beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and beat for 30 seconds more until smooth.
- Pour into cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely or wrap in plastic wrap until needed. Frost and fill with Butterscotch Buttercream or other icing and filling. Enjoy!
- In a medium sauce pan heat butter, brown sugar and corn syrup until light and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream and vanilla. Use in Butterscotch Buttercream.
- Whisk Butterscotch Sauce, sugars and egg whites together in a microwave-safe bowl; Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. (Alternatively this step can be carried out in a double boiler over simmering water). Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl (straining the mixture if any lumps are present) and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is quite cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately or store.
- You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.