Cakes seem like they have it pretty good. Always out on display in bakery windows, drawing people in. Frequently the centerpiece at special occasions. Oohed and ahhed over when they’re particularly well designed. But I’d argue that they actually get the short end of the stick when it comes to baked goods.
Cakes get a lot of attention, yes, but only on those special occasions. The rest of the time, no one can be bothered to make a cake, myself included. It’s way easier to whip up a batch of cookies and throw them in some tupperware to bring them somewhere than it is to try to bring a cake along. Even cupcakes have the benefit of being able to be eaten with your hands – a cake needs a plate, a fork – it’s a pain.
So most weeks, even when I’m looking for something more time consuming to keep me busy, I still don’t even consider a cake. Like (I’m assuming) most of you, the only time a cake seems appropriate is if I know I’ll have a lot of people to help consume it and it doesn’t have to leave my apartment.
Will I do anything to rectify the sad state of affairs for cake? Probably not. I just thought it worth at least expressing my sorrow that cakes lead such solitary existences, largely forgotten except for sporadic moments of sharp attention.
Anyways, I was having people over this week, and the cake didn’t have to leave my apartment, so I went for it. And, in honor of Mother’s Day (even though my mom didn’t get to try it), I added some coconut on top – my mom’s favorite ingredient!
First, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water until completely smooth. If you look carefully, you’ll see that my double boiler is actually a pyrex bowl over my small saucepan – whatever works. Set the chocolate aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks for about two minutes until thick and lemon yellow. I did this by hand, but that is 100% unnecessary. Don’t torture yourself.In a stand mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter on medium speed for three minutes using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine. Add the chocolate and beat that in as well. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract, and beating until fully incorporated after each addition. In another bowl (at this point, if you haven’t used literally every bowl in your kitchen, you’re a more committed baker than I am) whisk the egg whites on high speed of a hand mixer until soft peaks form. That is a beautiful soft peak. And a beautiful yellow hand mixer that doesn’t get nearly enough use.
Fold the egg whites into the batter until incorporated.Divide the batter evenly between two 9-inch round pans sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper on the bottom. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.Now for the icing. I have never made seven-minute icing, and it’s kind of weird because it’s a cooked icing, which seems extremely counterintuitive. I also didn’t take many pictures because it was a two hand job, but basically combine the egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt in a double boiler over boiling water and beat on high speed using a hand mixer for 7 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla until desired consistency.I didn’t believe the recipe when it said high speed, mostly because my hand mixer is pretty aggressive as-is, so I think it came out a little runnier than it should have, inspiring me to frost my cake in a droopy way: However, a quick 10 minute stint in the fridge improved the texture a bit, so I ventured into frosting the sides as well:It worked pretty well – definitely better than it seemed like it would, so even if you’re afraid it’s going to run everywhere, I’d encourage you to give it a shot. Sprinkle it with coconut for a little extra oomph.
Devil’s Food Cake with Seven-Minute Icing
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs, separated, at room temperature (separate while cold)
- 9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 egg whites
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, whisk together egg yolks for two minutes until thick and lemon yellow.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add egg yolks and beat to combine.
- Add chocolate and beat to combine.
- Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and vanilla extract, and beat to incorporate after each addition.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites on high speed using a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
- Divide batter evenly between two 9 inch round cake pans sprayed with cooking spray and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
- Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
- In a double boiler, combine egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt over boiling water.
- Beat with a hand mixer on high speed for 7 minutes until soft peaks form.
- Remove from heat and beat in vanilla extract until desired consistency for spreading.
- Frost between layers, top, and sides of cake.