Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Cake

This time around I decided to make some chocolate cake.  No special recipe here, just used the standard cake recipe out of a Betty Croker cookbook.

Mise en place

My mise en place for the cake.  I’ve got two different cocoas here for the cake, not because it’s better that way or I intended to do so, but rather I was running out of the Sharffen Berger cocoa, so has to fall back on the Hershey’s.


Here’s the cocoa for the cake.

Mixed dry ingredients

Mixing the dry ingredients together first.

Mixing the batter

Then everything goes into the bowl and gets mixed.

Finished batter

Scraping down the sides of the bowl and ready to put into the pans.

Batter split between the pans

Cake batter gets distributed between the pans.  I should have weighed them to make sure they were even, but I forgot to weigh by mixing bowl before hand to be able to figure out how much batter I had in the end.  They ended up a little uneven, but it still turned out pretty well.

Batter in pan

Close up of the batter in a pan.

Baked cake

The smaller of the two pans after baking.

A vampire was here

Close up of the vampire bite in the cake.  It’s where I was testing for doneness with a toothpick.

Baked larger cake

The larger of the two cakes came out of the oven.

Testing spots on the larger cake

Close up of the larger cake.

Cooling cake

De-panning of the cakes.  They are still warm at this point, so they go back onto the wire racks.

Diamond cake

The cake got a interesting diamond pattern on the top of it since I had it upside down twice on it’s top.

Cake, side view

Side view of the cake.  (aside, I’m not sure why but I love this picture).

Butter and sugar

While the cakes are cooling, time to make the frosting.  I decided to make a chocolate buttercream.  It starts with soften butter and powdered sugar.

Chopped chocolate

Some chocolate gets melted in a double boiler for the frosting.  I’m using some good quality ~60% cocoa Callebaut chocolate here.

Some coffee

Some strong coffee for the frosting.  I was going for a mocha buttercream, but it needed some work as you couldn’t taste the coffee at all by the end of it.

Melted chocolate

The chocolate is finally melted.


Everything gets mixed together and whipped up.  Some cream is slowly added until the consistency is correct.

Prepared cake board

Preparing the cake board to receive the cake.  I’ve got a few pieces of parchment paper laid down to keep the cake board clean while frosting the cake.

Preparing to frost the cake

The larger of the two cakes goes down, and the top is removed with a sharp bread knife.  The top is removed to flatten it out since it gets a slightly mounded top while baking.  Also, it gives the baker something to snack on and without having to take a piece of the final cake.

Cake with no top

A close up of the topped cake.

Finished cake

Some frosting goes on top of the first cake.  Followed by the other cake, which also gets its top removed.  Finally it all gets frosted.  I should have taken a few pictures of that process, but got too involved and forgot about the camera.


A close up shot of the finished frosting.

Sticky Buns

I grew up on sticky buns. My mother would make them for breakfast for special occasions. We would often have them on Christmas morning and other times throughout the year.

Sticky buns are essentially the same thing as cinnamon rolls, but rather than coating them with icing, they have a caramel topping.

This recipe is again out of the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. The bread dough here is actually quite similar to the dough from the King Cake, only with less lemon and no nutmeg.

Mise en place

Here’s the mise en place. I’ve chosen to go with good quality butter (Plugra) here since it’ll be used not only in the dough, but the caramel topping. Since the caramel’s flavor comes pretty heavily from the butter, the best butter is going to give it the best taste.

Sugar and butter

Starting the dough by creaming the butter and sugar together.

Creaming and sugaring time

The creamed butter-sugar mixture. A good base for enriched dough and cookies.


Just a single pristine egg, whisked up before going into the dough.

Ready for mixing

In goes the flour, buttermilk, whisked egg, and other ingredients.

Ready for kneading

Then, just bringing the dough together with the beater attachment.

Ready for shaping

Afterwards, kneading the dough with the dough hook. Ready to be shaped.

Boule ready to rise

Shape the dough into a boule and into an oiled bowl to rise.

Caramel in the making

While the dough rises, time to make the caramel. More butter and sugar is creamed together along with some vanilla.

Caramel mixture

The caramel mixture. It doesn’t look much like caramel, because it hasn’t been cooked. It will be cooked and turn to caramel when the sticky buns cook.

Cinnamon sugar

Some cinnamon sugar for the filling of the sticky buns.

Risen dough

The dough has risen and is ready to be rolled out.

Indentations in dough

One way to tell if the dough is ready is to press your finger into the dough and if indentation stays, then it’s probably ready. If the dough rebounds then it definitely needs more time to rise.

The dough is rolled out

The dough gets rolled out into a rough rectangle.

Cinnamon spread on the rolled out dough

Some melted butter is brushed on then the cinnamon sugar is sprinkled onto the dough.

Cinnamon sugar landscape

A close look at the cinnamon-sugar.

The dough is rolled up

The dough gets carefully rolled up along the long edge. The dough stretches a little bit when you do this as you can see since I ran out of space on my board.

Caramel spread in the pan

The caramel mixture goes into the bottom of the baking dish.

Caramel in the pan

Another close up of the caramel mixture.

The sticky buns are cut from the master roll

The rolls get cut out. You can use a really sharp bread knife, or use some thread and wrap it around the roll and pull and it will make a nice clean cut for you.

A cut roll

A close up of a cut roll.

Arranged sticky buns

The rolls get placed into the baking dish. They then set to rise until they double or push into each other, mostly filling the dish.

sticky buns in pan

A close up of the rolls in the dish.


Here’s the sticky buns mid-way through the baking cycle. You can see how they’ve risen and are touching each other and nearly filing the baking dish.

Finished sticky buns

Once they are out of the oven, they cool for a little while before being flipped out. The bottom side of the baking dish where the caramel mixture was becomes the top of the finished sticky bun.

One of the good things about them, is there is something for everyone here. For those that like a little crust on their sticky bun, the outer edges and corners are for them. The interior sticky buns are softer and were always my favorite growing up.