cake

Friends and Family: Rose Levy's Deep Chocolate Passion Layer Cake

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Today is a very special post. I like to call it "Miro Bakes- Friends and Family." I want to share some of my favorite recipes by my dear friends and family, recipes that I've personally tested, used and loved. The first recipe in our Friends and Family section didn't really need my testing, considering it's written (and tested probably hundreds of times!) by the one and only Rose Levy Beranbaum, a dear friend.

Yes, THE Rose Levy, "“the most meticulous cook who ever lived”, writer of such legendary books as  "The Cake Bible" generously shared with me her recipe for a spectacularly rich, decadent and irresistible Deep Chocolate Passion Layer Cake. This same recipe, but in larger, tiered form was published in one of my personal favorite's of Rose's books, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" 

Rose is an inspiration to me and so many. I've read and baked from her books for years before I got a chance to meet her while she was having lunch at Gramercy Tavern with a mutual friend of ours. I was startled for a second as no one warned me she was at the table. I felt like a fan meeting my idol, I was speechless. From there on we became good friends and Rose continued to mentor and inspire me with her vast knowledge. And when I say vast I mean VAST! She is a living, breathing encyclopedia of everything sweet. If you've ever grabbed one of her many books or read her amazing blog Real Baking with Rose you know what I'm talking about. The way she writes her recipes and the extensive testing she puts in, means even a first time baker can be successful. 

Rose is also our regular judge for Gramercy Tavern's Annual Pie Contest, an event that celebrates our creative staff. In the weeks before Thanksgiving, everyone working at Gramercy Tavern is invited to makes a delicious pie of their choice, that is then judged by a select committee. The winner gets an excellent price from one of our partners, Vitamix or KitchenAid, and the winning pie is featured on our dessert menu. Rose has been a huge supporter of this event and I'm always thankful for that.

Rose is also a force of nature, constantly working on new books. This September her 12th book "Rose's Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos" will be coming out. You can currently pre-order on Amazon. 

I made this chocolate cake for Shilpa when she returned from her long business trip to India. She was away working on fun new things for her company, Extra Helpings . She visited almost 20 artisans to partner with over the next few months and needless to say, she was exhausted when she returned. Nothing a slice of this delicious cake couldn't make right. 

Miro  

Deep Chocolate Passion Layer Cake

Plan Ahead Start the cake at least 1 day before serving. Bake the cakes, and apply the syrup and the ganache undercoat, at least 1 day before composing and glazing the cake. This gives the syrup a chance to moisten the cake evenly and the crumb to become firm enough to make moving the layers easier. Make the ganache undercoat at least 4 hours ahead. Make the lacquer glaze 8 hours or up to 1 week ahead.

Special Equipment Two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds. Spray top of parchment before putting in pan but leave the sides uncoated to prevent the tops of the cakes from shrinking inward.) One 9-inch cardboard round

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Cake Batter:

66 grams unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder

118 grams boiling water

75 grams cake flour *

75 grams bleached all-purpose flour

300 grams superfine sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

108 grams canola or safflower oil, at room temperature

4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 whites, at room temperature

pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the Oven Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC.

Make the Cocoa Mixture In the bowl of a stand mixer, by hand, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. To speed cooling, place it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

Mix the Dry Ingredients In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift the flour mixture onto a large piece of parchment. 

Make the Batter. Add the oil and egg yolks to the stand mixer bowl. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute, or until smooth and shiny, and resembling a buttercream. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.

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Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick. On low speed, add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. The batter will now be like a thick soup. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Each will be about one-quarter full (17.5 ounces/495 grams). 

Bake the CakeBake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. During baking, the batter will rise almost to the top of the pans and a little higher in the middle. They will start to lower just before the end of baking. To prevent collapse of the delicate foam structure while still hot, the cakes must be unmolded as soon as they have baked. Have ready a small metal spatula and three wire racks that have been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Unmold and Cool the Cakes. Immediately run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto the prepared wire racks. Remove the parchment and immediately reinvert them onto the racks so that the firm upper crusts keep them from sinking. Cool completely. (While still warm, invert again to loosen the cakes from the racks and reinvert to finish cooling.) When cool, remove the top crusts with a small, deeply serrated knife.

*Note Cake flour results in more tenderness, and the all-purpose flour offers more moist fudginess, so I like to use a combination of the two. Alternatively, use 1 cup/4 ounces/114 grams bleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup/2.5 ounces/72 grams cornstarch. Use 1/8 teaspoon more baking powder.

Milk Chocolate Ganache Syrup

6 ounces milk chocolate, 40% to 41% cacao, chopped (or 4 ounces lower % milk chocolate and 2 ounces bittersweet  chocolate 60% to 62%)

6.4 ounces milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Milk Chocolate Ganache Syrup. In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine.

In a 1-cup microwavable measure with a spout (or in a small saucepan, stirring often) scald the milk (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor running, pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. (Alternatively, grate the chocolate, place it in a small bowl, and stir in the scalded milk until the mixture is uniform in color.) 

Transfer the chocolate syrup to a microwavable bowl and stir in the vanilla. Apply the hot syrup to the cake. It penetrates most readily when at least 110ºF/43˚C—almost hot to the touch. If it cools, reheat for a few seconds in the microwave (or saucepan), but do not boil as it will thicken and make it more difficult to brush into the cake.

Apply the Syrup. Set one of the cake layers on a sheet pan, top side up, and with a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the top. Brush one-quarter/3 ounces/85 grams of the syrup onto the cake. Apply more toward the edge and less toward the center.

Invert the cake layer, bottom side up, onto a 9-inch cardboard round. Poke holes all over and brush with one-quarter/3 ounces/85 grams of the remaining syrup, brushing a little onto the sides of the cake as well. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap.

Repeat with the second layer and then invert it, top side down, onto a flat surface, such as a cardboard round covered tightly with plastic wrap, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray as you will need to slide the layer off onto the first layer, after it is topped with dark ganache filling. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap.

Allow the cake layers to sit for 1 or more hours to allow the syrup to penetrate more evenly and the cakes to become firmer before frosting.
 

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Dark Chocolate Ganache Undercoat

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 60% to 62% cacao, chopped

18 ounces heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Make the Ganache Undercoat. Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4-cup microwavable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan, stirring often) scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Pulse in the vanilla. Press the ganache through the strainer into the glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool for about 3 to 4 hours, until the mixture reaches a soft frosting consistency (70˚ to 75˚F/21˚ to 24˚C).

The ganache keeps in an airtight container for 3 days at cool room temperature, 2 weeks refrigerated, and 6 months frozen. To restore to frosting consistency, defrost if frozen and reheat in a microwave with 3-second bursts, stirring gently to ensure that it does not overheat or incorporate any air, or in a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water.

Sandwich the Cake Layers and Apply the Ganache UndercoatUse the ganache shortly after it has reached the proper consistency or reheat it very briefly (in a microwave with 3-second bursts, stirring gently to ensure that it does not lighten in color or heat unevenly) so that it goes on easily without compressing the cake layers.

Spread a 1/4-inch thick filling (about 1 cup/8.8 ounces/250 grams) onto the bottom layer, starting at the edge and working toward the center. Spread a thin crumb coating onto the sides and then chill the bottom layer for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm.

Spread a thin crumb coating of the ganache onto the top and sides of the top layer. Carefully slide the top layer on top of the bottom layer. Frost the entire cake. Start with the sides (going out to the edge of the cardboard round and coming up to a little above the sides of the cake). Then use the remaining ganache to frost the top.

The ganache undercoat for the top and sides of the cake needs to be as smooth and even as possible because the lacquer glaze, if using, will reveal every imperfection beneath it.

Use a heated straight edged knife to create a flat top and smooth sides with a slight bevel for the edge. To heat the knife, run it under hot water and shake off the excess droplets.

After frosting the cake with the ganache undercoat, refrigerate it until very firm, a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. Be sure that the refrigerator is odor free as chocolate absorbs aromas very readily. The undercoated cake can be stored for up to 5 days refrigerated and for up to 3 months frozen. If frozen, remove it to the refrigerator 12 to 24 hours before glazing.

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Dark Chocolate Lacquer Glaze

200 grams sugar

118 grams water

41 grams corn syrup

100 grams unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder

116 grams heavy cream

88 grams cold water

10 grams powdered gelatin

Make the Dark Chocolate Lacquer Glaze. Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium metal bowl.

In a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar and the 1/2 cup of water. Stir constantly with the whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Remove the pan from the heat and, with the whisk, gently stir in the corn syrup and then the cocoa until smooth, making sure to reach into the corners of the pan. The mixture will be glossy. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the heavy cream.

Return the pan to medium heat and, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boiling point (190ºF/88˚C). Bubbles will just start to form around the edges . Remove the pan from the heat and strain the mixture into the metal bowl. Cool until an instant-read thermometer reads 122˚ to 140ºF/50˚ to 60˚C, about 30 minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, in a medium bowl, pour in the 6 tablespoons/89 ml of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir to moisten the gelatin and allow it to sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. If longer, cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation.

With the silicone spatula, stir in the softened gelatin until it is dissolved completely and the mixture is no longer streaky.

Strain the glaze into a 1-quart or larger glass bowl. (Do not store in metal because it will impart an undesirable flavor.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Glaze the Cake. Lay a long double layer of wide heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface to catch the glaze. Turn up the edges about 1 inch to keep the glaze contained. Set a wire rack or an 8-inch cake pan on top of the foil.

Set the frosted cake on the wire rack. Make sure the cake is level and, if necessary, put a wedge or spatula underneath to level it.

Reheat the glaze in a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water (or very carefully in a microwave with 3-second bursts, stirring gently to ensure that it doesn’t overheat or incorporate any air). The glaze coats best for this cake at 82˚ to 85˚F/27˚ to 29˚C.

Pour the glaze in a circular motion evenly on top of the cake, allowing it to cascade over the sides to coat them completely. Start pouring in the middle, and as the glaze starts going down the sides, pour it about 1 inch from the edge to help cover the sides evenly. Should they appear, any tiny air bubbles can be pierced with a sharp needle. If any spots on the side are uncoated, it is easy to touch them up using the glaze on the aluminum foil and a small metal spatula. Alternatively, allow some of the ganache undercoat to show through. Allow the cake to sit for about 30 minutes until the glaze stops dripping. Use your fingers to remove any excess glaze from the edge of the cardboard round and then move the cake to another part of the work surface. Use the original large foil as a funnel to pour the glaze into a storage container.

Allow the glaze to set for about 4 hours, or until just barely tacky when touched lightly with a fingertip. Use a small metal spatula to remove any chocolate glaze “legs” at the base. For a stunning “starry night” effect, sprinkle with gold leaf.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 2 days; refrigerated, 5 days. Do not freeze as the plastic wrap needed to make it airtight would mar the glaze. 

Notes When glazing, it helps to use a ladle to catch the excess glaze for reapplying it. (This works only when the cake is elevated onto an inverted cake pan.) The glazed cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature; when refrigerated, it will lose a little of the glossy shine. It is at its most shiny within 6 hours of pouring the glaze. To revive the shine, brush lightly with a soft brush, or briefly wave a hair dryer set on low heat over the cake.

Banana Bundt Cake

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This banana bread is what we always turn to at Gramercy Tavern for special occasion giveaways. We bake it in small paper bundt cake liners that serve two and box it up with a jar of house made chocolate hazelnut spread. We give this away to guests on special holidays like New Years Eve or Valentines Day. And during the Christmas holidays, this cake is often snuggled into a box and shipped cross-country to our friends in the restaurant industry.

Recently I was doing an event with the legendary pastry chef Michael Laiskonis. We were talking, of course, about chocolate when he suddenly asks me would I share the recipe for this cake with him. One of the world's smartest and most talented pastry chefs was asking ME for a banana cake recipe?! It took me a couple seconds to digest that. What a great compliment that was! So, this one's for you, Michael.

I made this cake many times in many forms. With and without the chocolate chunks. Pecans instead of walnuts and sometimes I've left them out altogether. I've baked it in loaf pans, muffin tins and sheet trays. Oftentimes I top it with a buttery streusel, or a plain vanilla glaze and even thick dark chocolate ganache. But my very favorite is this simple version, studded with walnuts and chocolate and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.  It makes for a perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. 

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BANANA BUNDT CAKE 

  • 11.25oz/ 320g unbleached all purpose flour, such as King Arthur 
  • 1tsp/ 5g baking powder
  • 1tsp/ 5g baking soda 
  • 2.5tsp/ 2.5 kosher salt 
  • 9.75oz/ 270g very ripe bananas 
  • 7.5oz/ 215g real buttermilk, such as Kate's  
  • 11.25oz/ 320g organic sugar, such as Wholesome  
  • 2 eggs
  • 6.5oz/ 180oz butter, melted and cooled, such as Kerrygold 
  • 1tbsp/ 15g vanilla extract 
  • 3.5oz/ 100g dark chocolate chips, such as Guittard or Valrhona 
  • 3.5oz/ 100g walnuts, toasted and chopped* 

Preparation: 

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Sift flour with baking powder and soda and set aside. Mash the bananas with the salt. Add buttermilk, sugar and eggs to bananas and mix together. Slowly add melted butter in to the wet mixture while stirring. Add dry ingredients, chocolate and walnuts and fold with a spatula till it just comes together. 

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Spray a standard size bundt pan (10 inch, 12 cups) with non-stick cooking spray. Pour all of the batter into the pan and level it even. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached. Remove cake from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. When the cake is completely cool, dust with powdered sugar and grate extra walnuts on top with a Microplane. 

This cake will hold well in an airtight container or under a cake dome for 2-3 days. It's delicious on its own or with a cup of hot Earl Gray tea. My personal favorite is to eat it at breakfast with chocolate hazelnut spread and yogurt. 

Notes:

TOASTING NUTS: Spread nuts on a sheet tray in a single layer, and toast in a preheated 325°F oven for 5-7 minutes. Nuts should turn a couple shades darker and smell deliciously toasty.