Food scientist Shirley Corriher explains the chemical world of baking in her book, BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes.
Satin-Glazed Midnight Black Chocolate Cake
Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) 2-layer round cake
1 recipe Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake, prepared as two 9-inch (23-cm) round layers
1 recipe Satin-Smooth Ganache Glaze
1. Place one layer of the cooled cake on a cardboard circle that is slightly smaller than the cake. You want to be able to hold the cake and tilt it as necessary. Place the cake on a cooling rack over a large piece of parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet. You want something that you can drip icing on and scrape it up if you need it.
2. Pour slightly less than half of the Satin-Smooth Ganache Glaze into a 2-cup (473 ml) measuring cup. You want the icing almost cool enough to set, about 90°F/32°C. Pour the icing to cover the cake layer, top with the second layer, and pour icing on until on the icing starts to overflow and run down the edges. Lift the cake and tilt to encourage icing to run where there isn't any. With a metal spatula, smooth the icing around the edge. Do what you can to get icing over the top and around the edges. Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes.
3. No spatula from here on! Heat the remaining half of the icing just until it flows easily. Strain it into a warm 2-cup (473-ml) measuring cup. Hold the cake up with your left hand (if you are right-handed), keeping it over the parchment. With your right hand, pour icing into the center of the cake. Allow the icing to run down the edges and tilt to get it to run where it is needed. Pour more icing on as needed, but do NOT touch it with a spatula. You want this coating untouched, as smooth as a lake at dawn--a perfect, shiny, dark surface. Replace the cake on the cooling rack and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.
Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes one 13" x 9" x 2" (33cm x 23cm x 5cm) sheet cake or two 9" x 2" (23cm x 5cm)round layers
Nonstick cooking spray
2 3/4 cups (19.3 oz/ 546 g) sugar
3/4 tsp(4.5g) salt
3/4 cup (2.4 oz/69 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
1 cup (237 ml) water
1 cup (237 ml) canola oil
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (7.7 oz/218 g) spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks (2.6 oz/74 g)
2 large eggs (3.5 oz/99 g)
1/4 cup (59 ml) buttermilk
1. Arrange a shelf in the lower third of the oven, place a baking stone on it, and preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C.
2. Spray VERY GENEROUSLY, a 13 x 9 x 2-inch (33 x 23 x 5-cm) rectangular pan or two 9 x 2-inch (23 x 5-cm) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the round pans with parchment and spray on top of the parchment. With the rectangular pan, line and extend up the long sides with a piece of Release foil or parchment sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
3. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, cocoa, and baking soda. In another saucepan, bring 1 cup (237 ml) water to a boil. Stirring constantly, pour boiling water a little at a time into the cocoa mixture. It will bubble up at first and then get dark and thicken. Stir the cocoa mixture briskly. Place on the heat and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to stand in the hot saucepan for at least 10 minutes.
4. Pour the hot cocoa mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on low speed for about 10 seconds. On low speed, beat the flour into the batter and then, with a minimum of beating, beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs, and buttermilk. This is a thin batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans. Place in the oven on the stone and bake until the center feels springy to the touch, about 25 minutes for round layers of 35 minutes for the sheet cake. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a rack. Run a thin knife around the edge and jar the edge of the pan to loosen. Invert onto the serving platter. Cool completely before icing.
Satin-Smooth Ganache Glaze
Makes about 2 1/2 Cups (591 ml)
16 ozs (454 g) semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (118 ml) apple jelly
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (118 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (3.5 oz/99 g) sugar
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) light corn syrup
1. Place the chocolate in a food processor with the steel blade and finely chop.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the jelly just to melt. Stir in the cream, milk, sugar, and corn syrup and bring carefully to a boil. Pour into a wide metal mixing bowl. All at once, dump and spread the chocolate across the top of the hot cream mixture. Jar to settle the chocolate. Allow to stand about 1 minute, then, starting in the middle, slowly stir to blend the cream and chocolate together well.
3. Divide the ganache in half. Put the cake to be frosted on a cake cardboard exactly the size of the cake. When one half of the glaze cools to 90°F/32°C follow the Double-Icing Technique.
1. Place the cooled cake on a cardboard circle that is slightly smaller than the cake. This allows you to hold the cake with the sturdy cardboard bottom and tilt it as necessary. Next, place the cake on a cooling rack that is sitting on a large piece of parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet. You want something that catches icing drips and allows you to scrape them up if you need to.
2. Pour slightly less than half of the ganache or glaze into a 2-cup (473-ml) glass measuring cup with a spout. You want the glaze almost cool enough to set, about 90∫F/32∫C. Pour a puddle of icing in the center of the cake and continue pouring until the icing starts to overflow and run down the edges. Lift the cake and tilt to encourage the glaze to run where there isn't any. With a metal spatula, smooth the icing around the edge. Do what you can to cover the top and all around the edges. Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes.
3. No spatula from here on! Heat the remaining half of the ganache or glaze just until it flows easily. So that it will be perfectly smooth, strain it into a warm 2-cup (473-ml) glass measuring cup with a spout. If you are right-handed, hold the cake up with your left hand keeping it over the parchment. With your right hand, pour the glaze into the center of the cake. Allow the glaze to run down the edges and tilt to get it to run where it is needed. Pour more glaze on as needed, but do NOT touch it with a spatula. You want this coating untouched, as smooth as a lake at dawn - a perfect, shiny, dark surface. Place the cake on the cooling rack and allow to cool.
Music break: Note Crisis by Lainka and the Cosmonauts