Monday, June 6, 2016

The perfect high altitude chocolate cake

I'm doing a wedding cake (two, actually) in two weekends - one white and one chocolate.  I've had trouble with all my chocolate cakes since moving to 4500-foot-high Utah.  They always rise up beautifully in the oven, then, in the last 5 minutes of baking or immediately after taking it out, the center collapses.  It's great if you don't mind dense, fudgy cake, but it's been driving me bonkers for years.  So I finally had an epic day of baking, trying multiple recipes, making multiple adjustments to ingredients and mixing techniques.  On my fourth cake I think I finally struck high altitude baking gold!  So here it is, my chocolate cake, adapted from Sweetapolita for high altitude baking.  It's rich and very chocolatey, but not so much that you can't finish a slice.  It's dense enough to stack, but moist and fluffy enough to enjoy without frosting, which is exactly what we've been doing as I move on to testing white cakes!

Chocolate Cake
Makes 2 8-inch round layers

3/4 cup + 2 T (213 ml) buttermilk, divided
2 T + 2 t. mayonnaise
4 eggs, room temp.
2 t. vanilla
4 t. white vinegar
284 g (1 cup - 1 T) light brown sugar
156 g (1 cup + 1 T) all-purpose flour
60 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 + 1/8 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.  Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with butter/flour or spray and line with parchment.  

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the buttermilk with the mayo, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all dry ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add butter and mix on medium-low until sandy, then add remaining buttermilk and beat on medium for 1 minute to strengthen the structure.  Add the egg mixture in three additions, starting on low speed until combined and then beating on medium for 20 seconds.  Scrape batter into prepared pans and bake for 35-45 minutes.

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