On our road trip through Massachusetts, my sister and I spent a few nights in Boston. One of my musts was a visit to Flour Bakery+Café. We headed to their newest location, Flour4, in the Back Bay. I first heard about pastry chef Joanne Chang’s bakery when she was featured on an episode of Josée di Stasio. I have Flour’s first cookbook and have posted a few of the recipes already. After having lunch at the bakery, I’m tempted to purchase the second volume, the savoury companion Flour, too. Surprisingly, her meals stole a bit of the baked goods’ attention. Her sandwiches are sooo tasty! (try the roasted lamb with tomato chutney and goat cheese if you’re in the area)
Late night jazz on the radio begs for a slice of this velvet cake. This silky meringue is deceptively light. You’d never guess how much butter was used! The sweetness of the milk chocolate in the buttercream balances out the deep, dark cocoa cake.
I had some issues with this cake. I had way too much batter for a single 8-inch round cake pan. I placed the cake pan on a baking tray since I was pretty sure it would overflow while baking… and it did. Instead of using a regular cake pan I suggest using a spring-form pan since the sides are taller. So depending on what pan you choose to bake with, make sure to readjust the baking time.
Yields one 8-inch, 3-layer cake (serves 8 to 12)
60g (1/2 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
28g (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
240g (1 cup) boiling water
225g (1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
330g (1 1/2 cups) packed light brown sugar
228g (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
60g (1/4 cup) crème fraîche
2 egg yolks
340g (12 ounces) milk chocolate, finely chopped
120g (1/2 cup) heavy cream
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
3 egg whites
681g (3 cups, 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) Butter an 8-inch round cake pan (make sure the sides are high! Or use 2 cake pans). Line the bottom with parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder.
3) Place the cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over them. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature (about 4 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the fridge, whisking every 15 minutes if refrigerated).
4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar on low speed, 10 seconds.
5) Add the butter and beat on low speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 40 seconds.
6) In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraîche, eggs, and egg yolks together until well mixed.
7) Pour the egg mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
8) Turn the speed down to low and add the chocolate mixture. Mix for 10 seconds to blend. Scrape the sides of the bowl, increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
9) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
1) Place the milk chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
2) Scald the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat (bubbles forming at the edge of the saucepan). Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk the chocolate and cream together until the mixture is smooth. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or until cool.
3) In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and egg whites together until thick. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the water does not touch the bowl), whisking occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture is hot.
4) Remove the bowl from the heat and pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and is cool.
5) Turn the speed down to low and add the butter. Increase the speed to medium and whip until smooth and silky, 2 to 3 minutes.
6) Change to a paddle attachment and add the chocolate mixture, vanilla and salt, beating until the buttercream is smooth.
1) Remove the cake from the pan.
2) Use a long serrated knife to trim the top of the cake to level it.
3) Split the cake into 3 layers.
4) Place one layer on a cake stand. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream on top and use an offset spatula to spread it. evenly to the edges. Repeat for second layer.
5) Place the third layer on top and spread a crumb coating over it and on the sides.
6) Spread the remaining buttercream over the cake and decorate as you please. I used a pastry bag with a tip to pipe some decorations.
Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.