The great thing about cake, this cake and really any other cake, are the endless frosting and filling possibilities. Sure, the cake is great. This one especially—dense while at the same time being fluffy, chocolaty but not too sweet, tender and moist— it’s a great cake. But really, if one bakes a three-layer cake, it’s for the extras.
At least that’s what I bake a cake for.
Just consider the possibilities. Lemon chiffon cake filled with lemon curd and then frosted with whipped cream tinted soft yellow by the remaining curd. Almond butter cake dripping with chocolate ganache and studded with sugar and toasted almond slivers. Chocolate cake topped with buttercream, mocha, coffee, peanut butter frosting, marscarpone praline. Caramel cake, four, five, six layers high, filled with dark amber dulce de leche and frosted up and down with brown sugar buttercream. Red velvet and carrot cake—it’s the cream cheese frosting that makes it.
And this cake, this historical, beloved, iconic Brooklyn Blackout cake, is all about the extras. Traditionally filled and frosted with rich chocolate pudding and then coated with the crumbled leftovers from cake leveling, this version has been updated. Because for me, a cake is about the extras, and what better way to increase your extras than by making different fillings and frostings?
Here, for the first post, is a chocolate cake. An updated Brooklyn Blackout. This cake, about five and a half pounds, is filled with chocolate pudding laced with crumbled chocolate wafer cookies and layers of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate ganache. It’s then frosted with chocolate sour cream frosting and the leftover ganache and chocolate crumbles are thrown on top.
So yes, while the cake itself is great, without the extras, I mean really. It would just be three circles of cake.
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
From Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process (Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Mix in the water a ½ cup at a time. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans until completely cool. Invert onto wire racks and carefully peel off the paper liners.
Chocolate Pudding Filling
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
2 cups and 4 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
A pinch salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup crumbled chocolate wafer cookies. (About 5 oz.)
1. Bring 2 cups of the milk and half the sugar to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. While the milk is heating, mix together the cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk, and remaining sugar together until slightly thick and pale yellow. Add the remaining milk and the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
3. When the milk has just come to a boil, remove from heat. Whisk a little at a time into the egg mixture. When fully combined, return to the heat and whisk over medium heat until the pudding thickens and coats the back of a wooded spoon, leaving a track when a finger is dragged across. Do not let the pudding come to a boil.
4. Scrape the pudding into a blender or food processor, and pulse a few times.
5. Add the chocolate, butter and vanilla and pulse until blended.
6. Pour the pudding into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, touching the surface of the pudding to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least four hours.
7. Take pudding out before use and mix in chocolate wafer crumbs.
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from epicurious.com
8 oz. fine quality milk chocolate
8 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1. Melt chocolates in a large metal mixing bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from heat, and then beat in sour cream and vanilla with a whisk attachment in a stand-up mixer or hand held beater. Whisk in heavy whipping cream. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally until it becomes thick enough to frost. Frost quickly and if the frosting becomes to firm, reheat the frosting in a double boiler and then whisk and cool to frost again.
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream.
1. Bring heavy whipping cream to a boil and then pour over chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let stand for about five minutes and then whisk together until smooth. Let cool until desired thickness is reached.
1. Level cakes with a large sereted knife. Put one cake layer on a cardboard round. Spread about 1/4 cup ganache, then half the chocolate pudding. Place second cake layer on top and put in freezer for half an hour to firm pudding.
2. Take cake out of freezer and spread 1/4 cup ganache, then the remaining chocolate pudding on top. Place the third cake layer, pan side down, on top of the the filling and put in freezer for half an hour or until ready to frost.
3. Make frosting about 10 minutes before frosting the cake. Take cake out of freezer and frost. Reheat ganache and drizzle on top. Sprinkle remaing chocolate wafer crumbs to decorate.