There isn’t much that inspires me enough to skip a rainy Sunday afternoon nap. We have been in the throws of a monsoon fueled by a hurricane offshore and a nasty system pounding us from the south. Gross. So you would think that an epic Sunday nap was the only thing on my radar yesterday.
Girlie and I decided to do a little baking together because there is nothing – not even a nap – that I enjoy more than spending time with my babies.
It just so happens that it was our good friend Walt’s 40th birthday yesterday. Obviously birthday cake needed to be made! I did a little investigating and discovered that his favorite desserts were either chocolate or pumpkin. And even though anything pumpkin is automatically thrown into the “basic white girl” category these days, I went with it. I can guarantee you that this cake does not deserve that title. YOU GUYS it’s so damn good.
Since I was making this up as I went along, I had to make a tiny version of it for quality control purposes to ensure that it was worthy to leave my kitchen. Goodness gracious did it pass the test! I’ve made pumpkin pies that had a chocolate layer before so I knew the two would play well together. Also, I look for any excuse to include liqueur in everything so that made an appearance as well.
So here you go – I couldn’t justify keeping this beauty to myself. You should make one this week. And then again for Thanksgiving because this cake was destined to be eaten after turkey and dressing. It was destined to force you into unbuttoning your pants and laying unattractively on the couch watching football. You’re welcome.
There are three components to this recipe. The cake+the buttercream+the ganache. The cake layers are Ina Garten’s recipe. Because: Ina. She is the queen. The buttercream and ganache are mine. This is what creating in the kitchen is all about. Take what you know and then turn it on its head until it belongs to you. Have fun and make a mess! Life is too short to just read recipes and allow yourself to be a baking robot.
First, let’s make cake. (This recipe makes a THREE LAYER cake, but I only made a two layer because I wanted to keep some cake for myself and some buttercream to make pumpkin bulletproof coffee. HELLO)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8 inch cake pans with non-stick spray and line with a round of parchment paper.
Pour 1 cup of full fat buttermilk (shaken) into a measuring cup. Don’t try and cut calories with fat free buttermilk. Just… NO.
Add two large eggs. (Sorry if there are egg shells in your cake, Walt. Girlie has to learn somehow)
Add 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Stir it all together. (Ya’ll like how I cleaned up my kitchen before this picture? I should have tried harder for the sake of the pictures but I missed my nap for this cake so give me a break.)
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together 1 3/4 cup AP flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp kosher salt.
With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture in a slow stream. Mix until fully combined and then scrape down the sides with a spatula.
Still on low speed, add 1 cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee in a slow stream. The batter will be very loose… don’t worry your little head about it.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans, leaving a half inch or so between the batter and the top of the pans.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing and cooling completely on racks. While they are cooling, make your buttercream and ganache. (I also suggest wrapping your cakes well in plastic wrap directly out of the pans while still hot and putting them in the freezer. They will keep for a quite a while in case you want to make the layers ahead of time. But I like to ice cakes while at least partially frozen… I have less crumbs to deal with which lessens my cussing issues which makes my mother happy)
**Buttercream and Chocolate Bourbon Ganache recipes at the end of this post!! Scroll down for all the nitty gritty details, loves!
**Now the fun part… let’s build this thing! (instruction to build the entire 3 layer babe in the recipe card section down below!)
Put the first cake layer on a stand. Pour a thin layer of the ganache on the top and then smooth with an offset spatula. Immediately put that layer in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set the ganache. DO NOT try to add the buttercream on top of liquid ganache… you will cuss and that should be avoided.
Remove the first layer from the freezer and spread about 1 cup of buttercream on top of the ganache. Then set the second cake layer on top of the buttercream, top side down so that the flat side is facing up. Spread another thin layer of the ganache on top and put back in the freezer for 10 minutes to set again.
Remove the two layers from the freezer and spread a THIN layer of buttercream over the entire cake. (about 1 cup total) This serves as your crumb layer. Put the entire cake back in the freezer for 10 minutes to set and then ice the cake again using as much buttercream as your little heart desires. Smooth the buttercream as much as you can using an offset spatula and a whole lot of love.
Your last step is to pour the remaining Chocolate Bourbon Ganache over the top and smooth it out using the spatula. Let some fall down the sides of the cake if you’re feeling sassy. I was feeling sassy so that’s what I did.
I do hope you will give this little beauty a try. It’s worth the time, I promise. Happy Birthday, Walt! I hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed throwing it together for you.