Tuesday, February 17, 2009

{TWD} Devil's Food "Wite-Out" Cake

Back in the day, when you were typing a letter, or a paper, or a document (yes, typing with an honest-to-goodness typewriter) and you made a mistake, you had two choices: retype the page or employ the magic of Wite-Out correction fluid. Slap that stuff across your mistake and voila! Good as new and none the wiser (unless you looked really really hard).

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
n.o.e.'s notes:

- 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.

you can see the little lumps in the white icing, and the black vanilla specks - thank goodness for the crumbs!
- 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.

- I also frosted two of the little tartlettes together to make a tiny cake.

the verdict:

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!

62 comments:

Cathy said...

Your cakes look fantastic! They can grace the cover of the next edition for sure. I agree about the wite-out powers of the crumbles, except I accidentally applied my crumbles sloppily, and then there was nothing left to wite-out that mistake. I agree that this cake was phenomenally good. I also I agree that I am DONE taking the temperatures of liquids for a while. I can actually feel some kind of post- thermometer stress disorder coming on.

Great job on the cake!

Nancy said...

Wow! Your cakes look just like the cover! I love the cake, but I just wasn't real comfortable with the frosting, either!

Judy said...

Gosh, I don't think you need practice -- those cakes look terrific! I can just taste them as I look at them.

Marthe said...

I love the mom and baby cake!! They look perfect to me! No practice needed whatsoever!

Matt's Kitchen said...

Perfect analogy. Oh how I remember the days of college papers written on a typewriter and the liberal application of Wite-Out.

Mine failed to rise so I did not have the crumbles to cover up. I had so much extra icing, however, that I could slather it on. Despite that, I still missed a few spots. It was still a great cake, though!

Debbie said...

The cakes look wonderful. My favorite cake! I have the book and haven't made it yet but I plan to!!!

Lady Baker said...

OH..the stress of that darn thermometer...I usually see "candy thermometer" and run from a recipe (thus I've had a candy thermometer for 10 years and used it for the first time on this frosting!)

I agree though, so worth it for a great tasting cake--and forgiving when it comes to frosting to perfection. Gotta love camo cake crumbles to hide the flaws!

Audrey said...

Nancy, I think you've been holding out on us...you're OBVIOUSLY been moonlighting as Dorie's food photographer under an assumed name. Your cake is (cakes are) just gorgeous - flecks, bumps, and all - and so are your pictures (day and night both).

Devil's food cake on its own (never mind the frosting) is one of those classics that seem simple and too often don't come out well, so it's good to know there's a go-to recipe I can go to. I can't wait until I have a chance to try this...I'm truly inspired now! (And I'll be over my own PTSD by then...)

Audrey said...

Forgot (but needed to) say what a great tip for unscrambling the creme anglaise! I now know I'm good at making creme anglaise scramblee, but I need practice at making the smooth kind - so, in the meantime, I'm definitely going to benefit from your brilliant idea!

Steph said...

Nancy, your cakes look too good. i love how thick your frosting looks. I agree, this cake is the best for covering up mistakes, but I'm sure you didn't need any covering up with the amazing cook you have even though you said you may have cooked the frosting a little.

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy what a beauty !! We adored thi cake especially for the frosting (that for us is somthing never heard of (because it was not too sweet at all and much better than the butter one !!

Andrea said...

Your cakes look amazing! Sorry about the egg troubles, I'm so glad that I didn't have bits of cooked egg in my frosting, that would have totoally killed this cake for me. I honestly couldn't even tell that this was an egg white frosting. And yes, it was exactly like marshmallow fluff, that's what my husband said when he tasted it :) Love the mommy and baby cake, too cute!

dharmagirl said...

your cakes look beautiful, nancy! i love the baby cake. i'm waiting for my egg whites to warm up so i can make the frosting--i'm using a different marshmallowy recipe that i find simpler--i'll post it on my blog later today.

Di said...

Fantastic job on the cake! I always obsess about what I've done wrong, too. And I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only one thinking about Wite-Out while making this one. =) I'm going to have to give the frosting a try the way Dorie intended--I cheated and did Swiss merengue instead.

Maria said...

FANTASTIC job on this cake!! It looks perfect!! My favorite colors are black and white, they were even our wedding colors, so I am all about this cake:)

j. d. e. said...

no math??? are you SURE that you're the mom i left in atlanta when i came back up to college?

that cake is looking mighty fine, though. kind of makes the overcooked oatmeal i'm eating for breakfast taste kind of bland...

Flourchild said...

Your cake matches your countertops!! Nice pictures. I love ALL the things you did with your cake. Im so glad you liked it!

Jessica said...

Your cake looks just perfect! I would never believe that you had even one problem with it if you hadn't written about them. In fact, I'm still having trouble believing that the frosting is even remotely lumpy. They're beautiful!!

Karen said...

Bummer that you had so many issues! it looks like you worked through them though and came through in the end. I am not a math person so no math for me please! :)

chocolatechic said...

I had to laugh at your comment on your egg whites to come to medium peeks already.

Only because I was saying the same thing to the syrup. My whites were there before the syrup was.

MacDuff said...

So gorgeous! I can only imagine Dorie scrambling a few batches also. But hey - as long as it tastes good, right?

And way to make me crave creme anglaise AND fluffernutters.....

Megan said...

Well, the frosting sure looks nice and fluffy to me.

Last night on Food Network, they had a show dedicated to Marshmallow Fluff. I've never eaten it before, but paired with peanut butter I am sure it would be just delicious!

Amanda said...

noe!!

it's beautiful despite having to ue wite-out, bahaha! You crack me up :) I had to stop by here, it wouldn't be right if I didn't. Yours look so wonderful, there's no way I could tell you had difficulty!

farah said...

Wow, your cakes look fantastic! I don't think you need practice with layer cakes at all. Your photos are really good too :)
I love how you did a mama cake and a baby cake.

Peggy said...

Oh I love your cake comparison to the cover of the book! Your cake(s) are beautiful! Why oh why didn't I think to cook both layers in the same pan in succession? Dumb I tell you. But I was hoping for a really tall layer and it just didn't rise much. Loved the flavor of the cake though. Just wasn't a fan of the meringue.

AmyRuth said...

Love the scrambled yolks/whites comment. LOL Yep that spidery scrambled white thing was something to watch for. I found one in mine. Very weird. I love that your cake had little baby cakes. Too cute. Its surprising what you can do with "left over batter." Anyway, I agree the cake is a good recipe especially with the little choc-o-chunks added. Great post Nancy. Your cakes look scrumptious!
AmyRuth

Jamie said...

Your cake looks delicious! Well done! Glad you enjoyed them!

Linda said...

What pitfalls? --- your cake turned out BEAUTIFULLY!

Tammy said...

beautiful! your cake looks just like the photo in the book. I loved this cake

Teanna said...

Oh I LOVE it! And I love that we both talked about typewriters! I always wondered how they fixed mistakes and would think, "There's no WAY they would start the whole thing over!" Little did I know! But I totally agree... this cake is the messiest, most brilliant cake for the cake decorating challenged (such as myself). Great job!

Pam said...

I think your cake looks great! Way better than mine, because I would never even attempt it!

Katrina said...

Love it! Love the little guy. Great, just as you said, that this cake takes lots of blunders and fixes all that with cake crumbles. I didn't estimate my egg white beating with sugar temp well either, but I did the opposite and beat the eggs too soon, so as they sat and mixed on low I kept hoping they weren't going to deflate. All went well. Good cake. I was happy to give this one away, or else I'd have eaten too much of it!

Natashya said...

It looks perfect to me!
Here I was kicking myself for using the extract instead of the higher quality paste..

Carol Peterman said...

The art of camouflage is indispensible!
I think what tripped you up with the frosting directions is "while the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites." (Last sentence in second paragraph. Maybe she should have added "on a low speed." While the syrup was cooking for the 3 minutes and coming up to 235 degrees, my KA was gently foaming the whites - kind of like keeping them on stand-by. Once the syrup hit 235 I boosted the speed to medium and they came right up and were ready as soon as the syrup hit 242.
I hope you try this frosting again; it is such a good one. I love how light and airy and it’s a nice change to have frostings that aren’t butter-based on occasion.

Carol Peterman said...

Just last week my husband and I were having a discussion about typewriter paper. It's just a thing of the past!

TeaLady said...

Your two cakes look just perfect. They looked like they came out of Dorie's book. good for you. Sorry you didn't like the frosting. Mine did turn out well which was surprising in itself. I even bouth a candy thermo just for this cake. Thanks for visiting. Look forward to it.

Melissa said...

Your layers look just as great as Dorie's. The frosting was a bit difficult to get just right, but I don't see any lumps in yours at all. I think the cake crumbs came in handy for everyone!

myfamousrecipe said...

Oh my, your comment about the fluffernutter snack is great. I'm going to try it! Beautiful photos.

Gabe's Girl said...

Excellent! Your layers look great to me. I am really really a big fan or your cakes. Nicely done. Everything you said about the "wite out" was so true. Your cake did look just like the cover.
BTW, here is the frosting recipe I used, http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Stabilized-Whipped-Cream-Icing.

Lillyana said...

This looks awesome!!! I like the idea of using vanilla paste too. Have you tried using whole vanilla beans? I have been experimenting with them and really enjoy it! The store www.beanilla.com has a huge variety (past and extract too!)!

Thanks again for the ideas!!

Elyse said...

That's so funny: I've been having the same luck with my eggs scrambling on me lately. But, let me tell you, you would never know. Your cake looks so delicious, and I would gladly accept a slice right now!

Jill said...

Your cakes look great! I agree that the crumbs were a great excuse not to have perfectly smooth frosting - what a relief!

Kayte said...

You have to be kidding...yours looks so great! I love the little baby one, too. I agree...hides a multitude of sins with those crumbs and I made sure my crumbs covered the entire top or I would have been dipping in that icing all afternoon...it was soooooo good. Yours looks truly beautiful. Wait until you see Matt's hair this week...swim sectionals are Thursday and Saturday, so keep your fingers crossed for a state time!

karen said...

haha, yeah "wite out" for sure. i'm ready for an easier week. :P one of these days i swear i'm going to master this whole layer cake thing. until then, i'm with you, this wite out crumb technique is going to be used.

Mary Ann said...

I love your first shot! I love the connection between white-out and the cake too. Lovely!

Reeni♥ said...

It's gorgeous!!! I love how you compared it to wite-out. The icing looks so fluffy, like clouds, and the effect of it against the chocolate is quite dramatic and so lovely!

The Food Librarian said...

Your cakes look so cute! Love the mini me cakes!

Pamela said...

You did a fabulous job, Nancy. Your cake looks so good and your frosting is picture perfect. I would like to try the frosting again and be patient enough for it to reach the proper temp before dumping it into the eggs. Or...I could just throw something else on there. It was a tasty cake. Once again, great job!

bridget said...

Ah yes, I had a similar scramble (no pun intended - for real) trying to coordinate the heating of the syrup and the beating of the egg whites.

Still, with all the problems you describe, your cake(s) look great - the layers are so cleanly sliced.

mike said...

Ok - that's just about the perfect "cover cake" of the bunch. Your frosting is perfect.... unlike some of ours! Very nicely done!

Danielle said...

Your cakes looks great I couldnt see a lump in the pictures anywhere! The mommy and baby cakes are to cute!

Lo said...

This cake is so beautiful, I can't imagine that it wouldn't taste just divine.

leanne said...

Your cake looks perfect. Perfect layers. I think you have mastered it

pinkstripes said...

I agree it is a Wite-Out cake. With your smaller size cake you had plenty of frosting. Your cakes look great!

bakingwiththeboys said...

The same thing happened to me with the temperature (including the frantic moving of saucepan to get back to 242). Finally, a cake that complements my complete lack of decorating prowess. and I still have bottle of wite-out in my desk drawer. You never know...

Fit Chick said...

Delicious looking cake! I can't wait to make it again but I made a cream cheese frosting with mine and really liked it. I wasn't too sure about making a cooked frosting but may try it next time.

Carla said...

Hmm mine didn't shoot up from 235 to 242 right away. Then again, I don't think my electronic thermometer can handle high temperatures because the digital face was messed up after it reached 220.

Yours actually looks like the cover! Mine just looks like a disaster.

Amanda said...

First, your cake looks gorgeous! Second, you description sounds almost like mine! I struggled with this one, and I too have no experience with cooking icing or layering cakes. It was a real challenge to get the timing right on the syrup and the egg whites. And I loved it, but I'm not sure when I'll tackle it again.

Jess said...

This is also my new favorite chocolate cake recipe - and I also loved the non-perfectionist aspects of the recipe. Your mama/baby cakes are adorable.

Lillian said...

Those crumbs do work wonders, don't they? Your little cakes look fantastic!

Engineer Baker said...

Oh so adorable! I love the momma and baby cake shot :) Those crumbs do hide a multitude of sins, don't they? It's a great idea, and I'm glad you took advantage of it :P

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love your comparison of white-out and how the crumbs cover up the mistakes! I'll remember that when I make this cake, which I'll definitely have to try after reading everyone's posts.