i get excited for birthdays. it gives me an excuse to bake a cake. the problem is when i ask people what kind of birthday cake they want - they squish their face and say "cake? i would rather have....".
i know why they say that. they have either had one of my other desserts they like and want that or they think i am going to deliver them a supermarket overly sweet crappy cake. friends and family that may be reading this - if i ask you what kind of birthday cake you want - you will get a cake like this. it will be delicious - i promise!
i understand aversions to birthday cakes. even the ones made at the local gourmet grocery store are not so great. either the cake itself is bland or the frosting is so crazy sweet you can't enjoy it.
when alex's mom actually answered - "you choose" when i asked her what kind of birthday cake she wanted - i almost did a leap. i knew the cake i wanted to make. it has been bookmarked for years.
layer cakes are a bit time consuming but oh my this one is worth it! the chocolate cake is so moist and it really tastes like chocolate. the raspberry filling is pucker-up tart which is perfect between the cake layers. it really does help cut the sweetness. it seeps into the cake layers so the chocolate and raspberry flavor become unified. i also loved the ganache frosting - it is a light layer of chocolate that is tasty but most of all it is beautiful.
i can't wait for the next person who says "you choose" because i am sooo making this again!chocolate raspberry layer cake with chocolate ganache frostingfrom smitten kitchen - with a few tweaks For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (I used espresso)
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanillaFor ganache frosting
1/2 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Special equipment: two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans (I used two 9 inch - I baked it a few minutes longer)Make cake layers
Preheat oven to 300 F and butter pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Butter again and dust both pans with cocoa powder. Tap and swirl around the cocoa to lightly coat the pans.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.
Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.Ganache frosting
Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable. Raspberry Filling
2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar - i was a bit on the shy side when i measure it
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken. Stir in lemon zest at the end.
Let it cool complete before spreading it thinly over three layers. To Assemble
With a long serrated knife, slice eat cake into two layers. Lay the bottom layer on cake stand. Take 1/3 the raspberry filling and spread it over the layer. Stay about 1/2 inch away from the edge. Lay the next layer on top. Spread another 1/3 of the raspberry filling. Place the third layer on cake and the last of the raspberry filling. Put the final layer on the top of the cake. Gently make sure that all the layers line up.
Pour some of the ganache in the middle of the top layer and with an offset spatula start smoothing out the frosting - gently pushing it toward the edge. Add more until you have worked the ganache down over the sides of the cake.
I decorated the top with fresh raspberries.
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