I’ve been on a mission to create the perfect chocolate cake, all the while making it as fool-proof as possible. I consider myself a relatively lazy baker. I like to create and move freely through a recipe, and baking just tests my comfort zone.
I’ve made pretty much every mistake in the book; from over-mixing to adding too much salt, and everything in between. I’ve burnt cakes, I’ve served them undercooked. I’ve messed up measurements and tried to be a bit too creative. I’ve done it all, so trust me when I say, if you follow my recipe as it’s written below, you are going to have the most bomb cake ever.
Now, I was a little apprehensive to share a recipe that used a somewhat advanced of a technique as Swiss meringue buttercream. But it truly is a superior frosting, and I think it can be fun to explore techniques that further our understanding of cooking and baking.
It can be fun when we challenge ourselves, and then it becomes about so much more than just the delicious end-results. It becomes about mastering something intimidating and feeling proud of yourself for doing it.
But just to be sure that I don’t throw you off, I’ve written a few notes to encourage your cake making process, and improve your experience:
I call for grams in this recipe instead of cups because it’s the most accurate way to bake. If you use this method you’ll end up with a wonderful cake. Plus, you can measure everything into the same few bowls, zeroing out the scale each time you add something new. Hello, fewer dishes to clean!
We’ve linked up a scale for you to purchase, and I highly recommend you do if you want to take baking seriously, and make your life easier. If you don’t have a scale and don’t want one, you can google cup conversions. Just make sure you type in the ingredient along with the measurement into google, this way it gives you the accurate finished conversion.
There are a few ways to get this:
This cake is designed to be more of a dark chocolate, light crumb cake with a very subtle sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter cake, go ahead and increase the sugar measurement to 600g.
I call for cake flour AND ask you to sift it and the cocoa powder. That’s because this easy step will make the world of a difference in lightness of your final crumb. Do this every time you bake, I promise you’ll be happy. Use a fine-mesh strainer/sieve or a trigger flour sifter. Either option is totally fine.
In the photos I posted here, I used 9” cake rounds to create 4 layers. This is the largest size I would recommend. If you prefer a taller cake with more layers, you could use as small as 3 6” cake pans.
Feel free to create as many thin layers as you prefer, and use the slicing tool (shown above) for perfectly even slices. This cake would be awesome as a sheet cake, too! I would say a 9x9” square would give you a nice height.
Heating the egg whites and sugar in the SMBC may seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but if you have a candy thermometer, a pyrex mixing bowl, and a small saucepot, you can absolutely do it!
Create a double boiler by filling the small saucepot with about ¼ water. Heat over medium heat and place a pyrex glass bowl over the top. Practice first by melting just the chocolate by stirring occasionally until it’s melted. Set it aside, and using a new bowl, follow this same method to create the meringue.
The only difference is that instead of melting chips into liquid form – which is a visual cue to know when it’s done – we need a thermometer to measure the temperature for us. This is a slow process, and sometimes I need to add more water to the pot before it reaches 160 degrees. Stir frequently, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Walk away if it seems like it’s never coming up to temp.
Vanilla Bean Paste.
This is a beautiful addition if you’re making vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. But for the chocolate version, if you don’t have it in your pantry already, and don’t want to spend the money to buy it (although I highly encourage you do!), switch it with an equal measurement vanilla extract.
This recipe calls for just the right amount of frosting for an offset spatula to coat the whole cake and its layers. If you like a heavily frosted cake, or plan on piping designs or playing with color/texture, I recommend you double the frosting batch.
Feel free to use extra ingredients like blackberry jam in between each layer to add some fun flavor variation and yummy surprise. Get creative!
For the Chocolate Cake:
For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream: