I am painfully aware that I have been majorly slacking on the blog lately.  At work we are currently in our crazy busy season, which is good, keeps me busy while there, but then I have less energy for things like baking and cooking.  Or I forget to take photos of new things I have in fact tried (slow cooker pot roast, we have a winner!).  Or the one thing I happen to bake fails miserably (I’m embarking on a road of making my own sandwich bread, and my marble rye left a lot to be desired).

At the beginning of this month (April happens to be NEXT WEEK.  Where has the time GONE???), my husband celebrated his 28th birthday.  And as always, I made him dinner and a cake.  While the dinner was not my best work (I’ll be the first to admit that), the cake was the same cake I have been baking him for years now.  Actually, this cake started out as completely boxed ingredients, then moved on to boxed cake and home made frosting, and somewhere in there I made the whole cake from scratch.

The recipe is one that my mom has been making my dad for his birthday for as long as I can remember.  I believe it originally came from one of  Marlene Sorosky’s Entertaining Cookbooks.  The cake itself is a rich, moist, chocolate cake and the frosting is more of a ganache type frosting, rather than a buttercream.  While I happen to be a chocoholic, I am not a huge fan of cake (but I do love cupcakes), so I always have to eat this cake with a scoop or two of vanilla or coffee ice cream.

No matter how hard I try, I can never bake this cake to come out perfectly.  About a week or so after my husband’s birthday, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted this article about making your layers even.  I’ll have to try her tips next time around!

Chocolate Cake

Three 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I substitute 2 tb. powdered buttermilk and mix it with the dry ingredients, and then up the amount of boiling water)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup boiling water (if using powdered buttermilk, use 1 1/2 cups boiling water)

Chocolate Frosting

Four 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
9 tb. milk
1 tb. vanilla extract
3 tb. unsalted butter
pinch of salt
3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

To make the cake:

Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans, set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (I cheat and just melt it on the stove).  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in vanilla and melted chocolate, beating until smooth.

Add buttermilk, flour, soda and salt, mix until incorporated.  Add boiling water and beat smooth (a shield will help you here, otherwise slowly mix in boiling water so batter doesn’t go everywhere).  Batter will be thin.

Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Shake the pans slightly to even out the tops.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes.  To ensure even baking, rotate pans halfway through the baking time.  Bake until cakes begin to come away from the sides of the pans or the tops barely leave an impression when lightly pressed with fingertip.  Do not overbake or cake will be dry.  Remove to cake racks and cool 10 minutes.  Place racks over top and invert cakes onto them.  Cool completely.

Cake may be wrapped in foil and stored at room temperature overnight.  May also be frozen.

To make the frosting:

In a small, heavy saucepan, place chocolate, milk, vanilla, butter, and salt.  Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup powdered sugar at a time until frosting is smooth (frosting will seem stiff, just keep adding the sugar and it will smooth out.  You can also use a whisk at this point to get rid of any lumps that might occur).  Use immediately, as it hardens quickly.  If frosting becomes too stiff, add hot water a teaspoon at a time.

Assemble the cake as you would any other cake.  The cake will improve in flavor if allowed to stand at room temperature overnight.  May be refridgerated for several days.

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