For these cake layers I actually doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!
1 ½ cups all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
1 ½ cups sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
1 cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ c /12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ c milk
2 t vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Grease 2 8-inch pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible. (This can also be done with a hand mixer).
Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 600g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer or toothpick and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
Cool 10-15 minutes before removing cakes from pans. After removing cake layers from pans, allow to cool completely before decorating – set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
While you’re waiting…make your frosting!
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
6 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
12 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5 c powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
Save and add later – few drops red + few drops green food coloring
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
Remove about 1/3 c of frosting and transfer to another bowl and color this green – you’ll use this for piping the letters! Add red food color to the remaining frosting. I forgot to count how many drops I used, but I pulled up this video (1 minute 43 seconds in) and just shot for about the color of the screenshot I took!
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small piping bag & small round tip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, and offset spatula - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful!
- small knife or toothpick
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle.
(This is an extra step and completely optional, but I filled this cake with chocolate ganache – because I’m a chocolate addict! Frosting would work just as well.)
Chocolate Ganache filling:
6 oz (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz ( ¾ cup) heavy whipping cream
Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky.
(If desired, this can also be done in the microwave – combine ingredients and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth). Cool on the countertop of fridge until the ganache reaches a spreadable consistency.
If filling with ganache, pipe a small rim of frosting around the outer edge of your first cake layer to keep the filling from showing on the outside of the cake, and spread the ganache over the layer.
Otherwise, spread the layer with frosting.
Add your second cake layer on top!
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to set the frosting.
Transfer your green icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. I used a movie screenshot from this clip as a guide when piping my letters – and to make sure I got the mis-spelling correct!
With a toothpick or small knife, add some lines to the top of the cake – you know, make it look like someone ‘mighta sat on it at some point!’ Haha….
And you’re done! Give yourself a high five!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!