Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wish Fulfillment - Sour Cream and Coffee Chocolate Bundt Cake

I cannot word this in a way which doesn’t sound like an irritating humble-brag, so please forgive my next sentence: My boyfriend bought me the cake pan of my dreams for my birthday. For the past five or more years, I have adored a certain cake pan the same way one might adore a fancy car, or any other fancy covetable belonging. Heavy, shiny, technically functional and of course, expensive for what it is, now that I think about it, it actually might compare to that 6th Gen. Camaro that said boyfriend desires.

Of course, then, the maiden cake of this pan must be similarly worthy. Surveying the household opinion, the shouted conclusion was chocolate cake. Ah, but which one…? A quick search yielded approximately 695,000 results (thanks, Google!), none of which seemed to be exactly right. In the end, there was a spreadsheet of similar recipes, all scaled to 1 cup of butter, and an alarming number of identical recipes. The closest, actually, happened to be the King Arthur Flour recipe for Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake, were it not for the fact that I totally disregarded the instructions altogether. But enough about the dang pan and process, Jesus, girl, how was the cake?!

Well, then, I wouldn’t be writing this if the cake did not blow my mind, now would I? With a dual-layer texture that changes my preconceived notions on bundt cake, it’s been sliced and slivered away piece by piece. The crust tastes almost toasted, the best chewy brownie corners fading to velvet crumb three-quarters of an inch in. The flavor is dark and seductive, just sweet enough with hidden slivers of chocolate and bolstered with a full cup of freshly brewed coffee. This cake is best served 24 hours from the oven, having allowed its “crust” and “crumb” to settle together and flavors to smooth out.

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Every Other Cake Recipe available on the Internet
Around 10 cups of batter, bakes into 1 regular bundt cake or 2 8" x 4" loaves

¾ cup cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting the pan
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup butter, plus the paper butter wrappers (or extra) for buttering the pan
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate, finely chopped (~2-3 oz.)

  1.  Put the cocoa powder in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or larger, and add the hot coffee, stirring all the while with a fork or a whisk. The result will be quite thick, as though you’ve made a very nice hot chocolate. Allow to cool while you complete the next steps.
  2. Cream together the butter and both sugars. I prefer a stand mixer, but this is definitely possible with a hand mixer or a spoon, patience, and elbow grease.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape the bowl between beating each one in. The batter will get much more creamy and smooth, starting to resemble excellent buttercream frosting.
  4. Add the vanilla and sour cream, and beat them in as well.
  5. Add the salt, baking powder and baking soda to the batter, mixing thoroughly.
  6. By now, the cocoa powder and coffee should be cool enough that the butter doesn’t immediately collapse when you add it. Carefully, because it may splatter, mix the chocolate into the batter.
  7. With a spatula, fold the flour into the batter, making sure to scrape the bowl. Flour and butter like to hide in the bottom of the bowl, particularly since there is a lot of batter in this one! Set the batter aside.
  8. Finely chop the chocolate and fold it into the batter. I liked dark chocolate for this one, but if you prefer your cake sweeter, perhaps milk is more to your taste.
  9. Thoroughly butter your bundt pan or 2 loaf pans, making sure that butter gets into every sharp corner. Take a handful of cocoa powder and sprinkle the inside, dusting it as you would flour. This preserves the nice brown color of the cake, and I like to think it adds an extra touch of pure chocolate flavor. If there is some left after coating the pan, pick up the pan and lightly tap it so the extra cocoa powder falls into the cake batter.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  11. The batter is thick; pour/spoon the batter into the bundt pan. You may need to turn the pan and spread it evenly, since the batter doesn’t flow well. Tap the pan onto the counter, a sturdy table or your knee to even out the batter.
  12. Pop it into the oven and bake for between 50-65 minutes (mine took 60 minutes for a wooden toothpick to come out clean).
  13. When the cake tests done, cool it on a rack for about 30 minutes. Then, turn it onto the rack and gently unmold the cake. Allow to rest for 24 hours, if possible.
  14. Slice and enjoy!