Tuesday, February 4, 2014

coca-cola cake

This cake I am told is a Southern classic; being a Canuck and a Yankee, my exposure to it comes via Cracker Barrel restaurants. Its name sake is at best controversial subject in many food circles, but I have a room for everything in moderation attitude when it comes to desert. If you absolutely refuse to use a product containing HFC’s I can’t image any reason that “Mexican Coke” , “Throwback” or any other cola would not work in this recipe. I used the name brand stuff in the red and white can. It’s an indulgence, nothing you do to it will make it otherwise.  

Many of the recipes I’ve encountered – and tried – call for plain unsweetened cocoa, and to me they lacked sophistication: not that sophistication is a strong point in this cake. It is what you imagine it would be, very sweet and slightly rich. Simplicity is its strong suit. Still, I couldn’t help tweaking the flavor to my tastes by using slightly darker and more complex Dutch process cocoa and hint of black cocoa’s bitterness to cut all that sugar. 

The finished cake has a satisfying icing to cake ratio, with a moist but medium/soft crumb, and a mild but complex chocolate flavor. Small or large, no matter how you slice it – pun intended – it really is delicious.
Recipe following cut:
33cm x 23cm x 8cm [13” x 9” x 2”] cake pan, large 5.20L [5.5qt] capacity heat proof mixing bowl, 2.4L [2.5qt] capacity saucepan, 250ml [1 cup] measuring cup with a spout, 30ml [1fl.oz] pinch bowls, heatproof silicone spatula, wire whisk, 25cm [10”] offset pallet knife, 500ml [2 cup] capacity fine mesh sieve

240g coca cola [~1 cup] 240ml
105g vegetable oil [~½ cup] 125ml
112g salted butter [~½ cup – 1 stick]
15g Dutch process cocoa powder [~2 tbsp - rounded]
7g black cocoa powder [1 tbsp - rounded]
420g granulated sugar [~2 cups]
270g all purpose flour [~2 cups]
110g eggs ~ 2 large – 110ml
120g buttermilk [~½ cup] 120ml
6g baking soda [~1 tsp]
4g pure vanilla extract [~1 tsp] 5ml
4g fine grade sea salt [~½ tsp] 2.5 ml 

112g salted butter [~½ cup] – 1 stick
15g Dutch process cocoa powder [~2 tbsp]
7g black cocoa powder [~1tbsp]
85g whole milk [~6 tbsp] 90ml
4g pure vanilla extract [~1 tsp] 5ml
560g confectioners sugar [~4 cups] 

Mise en place:
Preheat oven to 180ºC [350ºF] and butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan. 

Weigh sugar, flour, and sea salt into the heat proof bowl, and set aside on a clear work surface. 

Weigh the butter, coca cola, vegetable oil, and cocoa into the sauce pan. Place on the stove top until needed. 

Weigh the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla into the measuring cup, and lightly beat together. 

Place the measuring cup, along with the heat proof spatula beside the bowl. 

Weigh the baking soda into the pinch bowl and set beside the measuring cup until needed. 

Heat the butter mixture until boiling, over medium heat, whisking to help the butter melt and to form an emulsion. 

Pour the hot mixture into the flour sugar mixture and beat until fully combined using the heat proof spatula. 

Quickly, whisk the baking soda into the buttermilk mixture and add it to the batter.

Beat together until fully combined. 

Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 

Reusing the sauce pan, weigh out butter, cocoa, and milk and place back on the stove top until needed. Use the pinch bowl to weight the vanilla extract and set aside. Clean and reuse the heat proof bowl, spatula, and whisk for the frosting. 

Weight and sift the confectioner’s sugar into the heat proof bowl. Set aside until needed. 

When cake is fully baked, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to begin cooling. Allow cake to cool for minimum of 10 minutes while you make the frosting. 

Heat the butter and milk mixture until just under the boil, whisking to create an emulsion. 

Gradually pour the hot butter mixture into the confectioner’s sugar whisking as you pour.  

Remove the whisk and pour the hot frosting onto the warm cake scraping the bowl with the spatula. Working quickly; smooth the frosting with an offset pallet knife. 

Allow cake and frosting to cool completely before serving. 

Make ahead:
Covered in plastic wrap, the cake will keep on the counter for two or three days* – frankly it doesn’t last that long – or refrigerate for up to five days before serving. Remove the cake from refrigeration 35 – 40 minutes before serving. 

*If the ambient temperature of your kitchen is more than 21ºC [70ºF] store the cake in a cool place, or under refrigeration.

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