And there you have the true beauty of this cake.
I need practice with layer cakes. And with cooked icings. After making this cake I can honestly say... that I still need practice with layer cakes. And especially with cooked icings! This week's cake was fraught with pitfalls for me. So it may come as a surprise to hear me say that this is my new favorite cake. Not because of the taste - which is amazing, or the appearance - which is dramatic. Nope, it's because of the magic powers of the devil's food crumbs covering the outside. Like Wite-Out, these little babies cover a multitude (yes a multitude, you can take it from me) of sins.
Lumpy overcooked marshmallow frosting? You'll never taste it because of the clumps of crumbs. Finger in the side of the cake? No problem, the crumbs will cover it. Vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract in the icing? The black specks in that billowy whiteness will blend right into the crumbs. Lopsided crumbly layers? You won't notice under all those crumbs.
Dorie calls it "Devil's Food White Out Cake", but in my book it's Devil's Food Wite-Out Cake.
mother and baby: 6" and 3" cakes
- After a lot of internal debate about cake pan sizes, I finally decided to make a 6" cake rather than the specified 8". This should technically only have required around 1/2 recipe. Eschewing the math this week, I made a full recipe of both the cake and the frosting, figuring I'd find a way to use the extra half.
- The batter came together easily and tasted great. It was nice and chocolaty, and not too sweet.
- When it came time to fill the pans, I used 2/3 of the full recipe of batter rather than 1/2, to make sure I got nice thick layers that I could split for a really tall little cake. This week's P&Q had plenty of reports of cake layers that hadn't risen very much.
- Each of my 6" layers (baked for 29 minutes) domed a good bit, but otherwise didn't really rise much.
- With the leftover batter, I baked five 3" tartlettes using a silicone pan.
- I split the layers the next morning, and I can't say that they cut evenly or cleanly. I first cut off the domed part of each layer, leaving a fairly thin layer to try to split.
- My gut told me to start beating the egg whites for the icing when the syrup was 220 degrees, but I didn't listen to it, since I've never made cooked icing. I dutifully waited until the syrup was 235 degrees. It shot right past 235 to 242 before I could even get the mixer turned on. I spent the next several minutes frantically moving the syrup around on the stove trying to keep it at 242, while exhorting my whites to "form firm peaks already." I have no idea if I ever got the whites to the proper stage - or if I passed it in the flurry of activity.
- When I poured in the syrup instead of being rewarded with a lovely fluffy icing I saw a hot and scrambled icing. Last week it was scrambled yolks; this week the egg whites wanted a turn. I kept beating until the icing cooled and the big lumps broke up into small lumps. (Sorry for the lack of pictures; some things are just too discouraging to document visually.) Except for the scrambled bits (which tasted exactly like hardened egg whites) the icing tasted like fluffy marshmallows.
- I pressed on and spread the icing and stacked the layers. I crumbled the dome trimmings for the outside, leaving me with one extra cake layer. The thought briefly crossed my mind to make this a 4 layer cake, but instead I just loaded the 3 layers with lots of icing.
you can see the little lumps in the white icing, and the black vanilla specks - thank goodness for the crumbs!
- I also frosted two of the little tartlettes together to make a tiny cake.
I loved the taste of this cake - the layers were nice and moist and fudgy and the icing fluffy but not too sweet.
- I took one of the extra tiny tartlette cakes and sat it in a pool of creme anglaise that I just happened to have in the fridge (This was the scrambled batch from last week's TWD. I ran through the curdled creme with the immersion blender and it was perfectly smooth and delicious). I'll have to say this tasted fantastic!
Between last week and this week, I've had my fill of measuring the temperatures of pots on the stove top - and of the resulting scrambled eggs! I'm not sure how fast I'll want to make the marshmallow icing again - the cake would be (nearly as) delicious with any thick fluffy frosting. But this will be my new Devil's Food cake recipe (sorry, Duncan Hines!). And I will remember the magic powers of the "Wite-Out" crumbs to solve all those pesky layer cake setbacks.
p.s.- The icing reminded me of the marshmallow fluff I had on fluffernutter sandwiches every day when I was 10, so I had a spoonful of peanut butter + icing for a little snack.
Thanks to Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for picking this cake for us to bake! You can find the recipe on her post, or on page 247-249 of Dorie's book Baking From My Home to Yours, where this cake is featured on THE COVER!
Oops, I forgot about taking this picture while it was still daylight!