Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chessboard Cake

This is the cake I made for Books & Snacks. It looks even cooler when in individual slices. This cut-away picture shows that the center creates kind of a mirror effect on each side of the cake. That's just the way it comes out, but when sliced, you don't notice that. Yes, you do have to have special equipment for this one, namely a Chessboard (or Checkerboard) Cake Pan Set. Mine was given to me which meant I absolutely took the first excuse to make one that I could. This is the recipe that came with the set. I think you could do a lot of interesting things with this set, like perhaps a white and red velvet cake or chocolate and orange cake.

Chessboard Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

For the cake:

4 cups cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
18 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour the three round cake pans. Place a round of parchment paper inside each.
2- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
3- In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed till smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Continue beating until fluffy, white and increased in volume. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour).
4- Pour about 1/3 of the batter (4 1/2 cups) into a medium bowl. Add the chocolate and stir until blended.
5- To form the checkerboard pattern, place the divider ring in one of the prepared pans and spoon the plain batter into the outer and center rings, filling them 1/2 to 2/3 full. Spoon about 1 cup of the chocolate batter into the middle ring. Gently lift the ring out of the pan. Wipe off any remaining batter and place the ring in the second pan and repeat the procedure with the plain and chocolate batters.
6- For the third cake pan, reverse the procedure. Place the ring in the pan and spoon the chocolate batter into the outer and center rings. Spoon about 1 cup of the plain batter into the middle ring. Gently life the ring out of the pan. It's important that each layer have approximately the same amount of batter so that they will be the same thickness when baked.
7- Set the pans on the same rack in the oven, if possible, and bake until the tops of the cakes spring back, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks.

For the frosting:

4 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1- Combine the sugar, salt and butter (you can use either a food processor or a mixer) until well mixed. Note that the ingredients will be dry and crumbly.
2- Add milk and vanilla and process/mix until smooth.
3- Add the chocolate and process/mix until well blended, smooth and creamy.

Assemble the cake:

1- Take a 10" round cardboard (or whatever plate you intend to use for the cake) and stack one of the cake layers on the bottom. Be sure to use one of the repeated patterns (white/chocolate/white).
2- Spread about 2/3 cup of frosting all the way to the edges of the layer.
3- Place the second layer (chocolate/white/chocolate).
4- Spread about 2/3 cup of frosting all the way to the edges of the layer.
5- Top with remaining cake layer (white/chocolate/white).
6- Spread thin coat of frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
7- Let the cake sit in the fridge until the frosting is set. This is important as the layers have a tendency to slide.
8- Frost with remaining frosting and let sit until set.

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