This past week was my youngest son’s (Charles) birthday. He turned the bit 12 months. Or is it 1 year. In any case, I thought it would be a special enough occasion to make a cake I’ve had my eye on for a while. The cake comes from the Fat Hen restaurant in Charleston, SC. It is one of my wife’s and mine favorite places to eat when we visit. I came across this recipe in a Bon Appétit magazine from January 2013 in the Reader’s Favorite section.
As with any good dessert, no calories are spared. The largest ingredient is, of course, flour followed by sugar (if you include the icing).What could be more delicious! I made the cakes one day and the icing on the next.
I was truly amazed at how adding the sugar to eggs almost doubled the amount of ingredients I had in the bowl. I am not a great baker so I had never made a cake in this manner.
And, as the ingredients finally came together for the cake batter, the consistency was like no other batter I had made before. The taste was so delicate and full of flavor when tasting it before putting into the pans. No box has anything on this!
I did not have the 2″ round pans to cook with as the recipe calls to use. So I used some smaller, about 1 3/4 inch deep rounds and a 2″ square. Because of this I could not cut the cake rounds in half like and create 4 layers. Instead I created 2 with the rounds and a single layer cake with the square.
As I said, I am not a baker. You know what happened. I put too much batter in because I wasn’t using the correct sizes for the recipe. I just cut them off and the cake turned out just fine and cooked through. I think it would have retained more moisture if I had used the bigger sizes.
The icing was really easy to make but you better watch out if you are diabetic. The pictures above are the ingredients for the icing and the icing on the stovetop before adding the pecans. At this point, I had to beat my wife off with a spatula to keep her from eating all the icing!
As you can see from the picture above, I did not get to the camera in time for a full picture of the cake. Actually, I forgot because it was birthday time. We ate half and the square cake for the party and decided to give half to our neighbors (a private chef) and reports were good. The recipe is below and comes directly from the magazine. If you have a special occasion to make a special cake, then this one will make you shine.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups sugar
3 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
ICING AND ASSEMBLY
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 cups finely chopped toasted pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Two 10-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
Place a rack in middle of oven; pre-heat to 325°. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment-paper rounds, and coat again with nonstick spray; set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in a large bowl until slightly frothy. With mixer on high, gradually add sugar; beat until mixture is pale and has doubled in volume, 7-8 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to medium; gradually add oil. Beat until emulsified (mixture will resemble a grainy mayonnaise), 3-4 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat to blend between additions, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add vinegar and vanilla and beat just to blend. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake until cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans and a tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.
Transfer cakes to wire racks and let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around insides of pans to release cakes; invert onto racks and let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Cakes can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill.
ICING AND ASSEMBLY
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder (mixture will stiffen). Slowly whisk in milk and salt, then 5 cups powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth (icing will be soft). Stir in pecans and vanilla. Chill icing, stirring often, until spreadable, about 30 minutes.
With a long, serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally, creating 4 rounds. Place 1 round on a cake stand. Top with 1/3 of icing; spread to the edges. Repeat twice with cake layers and icing. Top with remaining cake layer. Chill until set, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Cake can be assembled 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Dust with powdered sugar.