(for a little festive fun, change out one of the cakes for red velvet, which is the last recipe included here.)
The striking black and white squares of this melt-in-your-mouth butter cake will make it a favorite when you are looking to bake something a little different.
This butter cake is made using the one bowl or quick method which produces a very moist and dense cake, with a fine and velvety texture. As the name implies, this method is faster and easier than the creaming method as the creaming of the butter and sugar is eliminated. However, using the one bowl method does not produce a cake with as much volume as the creaming method. The temperature of the ingredients plus the mixing speed are very important with this method so be sure to follow the recipe's instructions.
A special checkerboard pan is needed to bake this cake and it can either be found at specialty cookware stores or else it can be ordered through Amazon by clicking here. Buy Checkerboard Pan on Amazon. (Checkerboard Baking Pans are sold in a set which includes three 9 by 1 inch (23 x 2.54 cm) cake pans and a divider ring to let you separate the cake pan into 3 rings).
- 3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) milk, divided
- 1 tablespoon (12 grams) pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups (400 grams) sifted cake flour
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Grease, or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray, a set of three 9 by 1 inch (23 x 2.54 cm) checkerboard cake pans, line with parchment paper, and then grease and flour again. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the 4 large eggs, 1/3 cup (80 ml) of milk, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and beat to combine. Add the butter and remaining 1 cup (240 ml) milk and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat to incorporate the ingredients.
Divide the batter in half, placing each in a separate bowl (in one of the bowls have a little more than half the batter). Stir the melted chocolate into the smaller amount of batter until it is thoroughly combined. Fill two large pastry bags, fitted with large round tips (about 3/4 inches (2 cm) in diameter, one with the chocolate batter and the other with the white batter.
Place the divider rings in one of the prepared pans and pipe batter into each section, alternating batter colors (for example - outer and inner ring yellow, middle ring chocolate). The batter should fill the pan about half full. Using the back of a spoon, smooth the batter. Now carefully lift out the divider. Wash the divider before placing in the next pan. When piping batter for the second layer, alternate the colors, i.e. if you started with yellow for the outside ring, start with the chocolate. Pipe batter into the third pan exactly like the first pan. (Note: You will end up with two pans having the same color pattern and one the opposite.)
Bake about 20 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven. Be sure that you do not overbake this cake or it will be dry.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife or spatula and invert onto a greased wire rack. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before covering with Ganache.
Note: When stacking the layers of the cake, make sure the bottom and top layer are the same pattern so you end up with the checkerboard pattern when you cut the cake.
Place one layer on a cake circle (top side of cake down on the cake circle so you get a nice flat top) and put on a wire rack. Spread with a thin layer of ganache (you want a very thin layer of ganache so it does not interfere with the checkerboard pattern). Place the second layer (top side down) on top of the first and spread with another thin layer of ganache. Top with the last cake layer (top side down). Pour the rest of the ganache on the top of the cake and with a spatula gently spread the ganache so it drips down the sides of the cake. Use leftover ganache to cover any missed spots. Once the ganache has set gently transfer the cake, using a large offset spatula, to a platter or cake stand.
- 9 ounces (250 grams) of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the chocolate to a stainless steel bowl.
Meanwhile, place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand about 5 minutes. Stir gently and, if necessary, strain through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Stir in brandy. Allow to cool until ganache is lukewarm and pourable.
Store 2 days at room temperature or 5 days refrigerated although this cake is best eaten the first day.
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 1-ounce bottles of red food coloring (equivalent measure is 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup Crisco or other vegetable shortening
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
Combine the sifted flour and salt, and set aside.
Put the cocoa in a small glass bowl, and add the food coloring gradually, stirring until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Cream together the shortening and sugar, beating for 4 or 5 minutes at medium speed in your electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for at least 30 seconds after each addition.
At low speed of your mixer, add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the cocoa/food coloring mixture, mixing until color of batter is uniform. Do not overbeat; overbeaten cake batter will result in a tough cake. Turn off your mixer.
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar with the baking soda. It will foam up. Stir it briefly to mix, and then add it to the cake batter, folding it in to incorporate well, but do not beat.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake in a 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow layers to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out. Let cake cool completely before frosting.