Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beatty's Chocolate Cake - week 22 of 52

All dinners must end in dessert and as this is the last week of my Barefoot Contessa chef series, I made “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake” from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa at Home” cookbook. There’s always room for dessert since it goes in a separate compartment in your tummy!

In her book the Barefoot Contessa recounts the origins on this recipe. Her friend’s grandfather used to have a milk route in Pennsylvania Dutch country and his grandmother would make this cake for him to deliver to customers with their milk. Her friend’s grandmother was definitely onto something – this cake would go perfectly with a cold glass of milk!

I had a friend and her parents over yesterday and I served this chocolate cake with tea and it was a huge hit! The cake is rich, but still light in texture and the flavour is incredible! I suspect the wonderful texture is due the buttermilk in the recipe. This is one of my new favourites now – I may try to make cupcakes with the batter next time.

When I made the frosting it seemed a little too thin. That’s probably due to the fact that we’ve had some really hot weather and it made the butter that I left overnight to warm to room temperature a little too soft. After I spread the frosting onto the cake, I put the entire cake into the fridge and the frosting hardened up – problem solved!

Did you know (stuff I learnt along the way): Buttermilk is the liquid left behind when making butter or also refers to a fermented milk product. The fermented milk is made by turning the milk sugars into lactic acid, which causes the milk proteins to solidify. This makes buttermilk be thicker than regular milk – the tangy flavour is from the lactic acid.

This cake definitely “takes the cake”!

Bonne appétit!

Beatty's Chocolate Cake - serves 12



• Butter, for greasing the pans
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
• 2 cups sugar
• 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. *Note – since this is a chocolate cake, I used cocoa to “flour” the pans instead so the cakes would not get a dusting of flour on the outside.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting
• 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
• 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.


  1. I love using buttermilk. If you don't have any to hand it's really easy to sub. Just mix a tablespoon or two of plain yogurt to one cup of milk as needed. The cake looks awesome. I just don't have the patience to make layer cakes this pretty.

  2. Looks great! Isn't Barefoot Contessa the best?!

  3. OMG....the best cake ever!Great usual :)

  4. Toronto Food GirlJune 1, 2010 at 6:44 AM

    Barefoot Contessa never disappoints! :)I may have to do another chef series with her!