My siblings and I are all doted with very different artistic talents. My brother is musically inclined. He was selected at a very young age to sing in a prestigious choir in Puerto Rico and later learned to play guitar on his own. My sister always excelled in all different type of visual art. She could sketch, paint, and sculpt. I was the bookish one, either reading and writing poems and stories that would now make me blush on how lame they were. If there was ever a weekend when I needed to channel my sister’s ability to make pretty things, it should have been this one.
My husband’s birthday was this weekend. Months ago, we were sitting on the couch, watching TV and looking through cookbooks when the cover of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book caught his eye. Eduardo is quick to give ideas in the kitchen, but he hardly says ‘make me this or that’. His eyes glazed over the layered chocolate cake, and later turned to me in the worst, most irresistible puppy dog look ever. He wanted a beautiful devil’s food cake, with white chocolate filling. Within minutes I was placing an order for Valhrona cocoa powder and white chocolate baking bars.
Instead of using the recipe for the cake from the picture, I grabbed a copy of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook my dear friends gave us for the holidays. The devil’s food cake recipe seemed simple enough to pull off. When push came to shove, I started freaking out over simple things. The recipe was to be baked on a sheet pan. Could either of the numerous rimmed baking sheets I had at home count as a cake sheet pan? Would my jelly roll pan work out? I successfully managed to bake two cookie sheets of the thin chocolatey cake. The toothpick, however, lied to me. After they cooled enough, I klutzed my way into breaking them into odd proportions because some parts were almost brownie gooey. My plan of using the removable edge of a 10″ springform pan to shape the layers was thwarted and I ended up buying a 6″ cake ring. The towering cake that was meant to be ready to call impromptu guests turned into a little cake for two or four at most. The cake, even after freezing, could not be cut into pretty, even slices because of that residual gooeyness/underbaking. Despite its odd shape and sloppy frosting job, the devil’s food cake was lovingly received by the birthday guy.
I wasn’t crazy about the white chocolate buttercream recipe I selected (not from any of the books and way too sweet!), but the cake was amazing. It was perfectly rich and decadent, in no small part due to the splurge in the special cocoa powder. Any ideas on what to do with my cake ‘scraps’?
Devil’s Food Cake
(adapted from Bouchon Bakery)
- 101 g flour
- 31 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used half Dutch-processed and half KAF black cocoa)
- 2.5 g baking soda
- 0.5 g baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 (large) egg
- 126 g granulated sugar
- 2 grams agave syrup
- 1 vanilla bean (scraped)
- 86 g Mayonnaise (about ¼ cup)
- ½ cup water, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Prepare a sheet pan by spraying it with non stick cooking spray. Cover it in parchment paper and spray again.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the eggs and the sugar for five minutes on medium speed. Make a vanilla paste with the agave and the scraped vanilla bean and add to the egg mixture. Mix again for five more minutes on medium high speed. Add the mayonnaise and whisk for about a minute on low speed.
Fold in the dry ingredients and the water on two batches. Pour the batter on the sheet pan, making sure to spread it evenly and all the way down to the corners. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.