Admittedly, it's been a slow year for me and sweets. Between work, travel, fun and a prolonged health kick, I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen. But when the birthday of sweet tarte's strongest supporter, pickiest proofreader and undisputed number one fan rolled around, I knew it was time to roll up my sleeves and get back to baking. But what to make for the milestone birthday of someone so devoted to following my culinary commentary that he emails me to let me know when he thinks too much time has passed between postings?
This chocolate red wine cake with blackberry buttercream is sweet but not saccharine. It's definitely a celebration cake, but one fit for a grown up gathering. Which made it the perfect birthday cake for sweet tarte's number one fan: my dad. Happy birthday dad!
Chocolate Red Wine Cake with Blackberry Buttercream
Recipe from Love and Olive Oil
For the Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 and line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment. Butter the parchment. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, wine, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk well or beat with an electric mixer to blend. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and bake 30-35 minutes. Leave the cakes in the pans until cool enough to handle, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the Buttercream
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
pinch of kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup blackberry preserves, or more to taste
Beat the butter on medium high until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar slowly, beating well after each addition. Mix in the salt, vanilla, cream and preserves. If the buttercream is too thick, add more cream, If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar. Taste the buttercream and add more preserves if desired.
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons warm water
Heat the chocolate and cream over a double boiler until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the ganache is a good pouring consistency. You may not need all of the water.
To Assemble the Cake
Place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake board, plate or cake stand (whatever you are going to use for serving your cake). I like to place my cake layers (well wrapped in plastic) into the freezer to firm up a bit before frosting them--this makes them easier to work with. Spread a thin layer of blackberry buttercream over the top of the cake layer, and top with the second layer. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the second layer, and top with the third cake layer. Spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula, if you have one. Do not use all of the buttercream. This is your crumb coating, or a very thin layer of icing in which all of the cake crumbs will be suspended so that they are not visible in the finished product. Don't skip this step--it's especially important when you're dealing with a dark cake and light icing.
After you have spread the cake with the crumb coating, chill it for about 20 minutes so that the frosting has time to firm up. Then spread your cake with the remainder of the buttercream. After the cake is fully frosted, its' a good idea to chill it again before topping it with the chocolate ganache--this will help you achieve artful drips down the sides. (I refrigerated by cake overnight and applied the ganache the next morning). When you are ready to add the ganache, pour it on to the center of the top of the cake, and use an offset spatula to spread it just over the edges so that it drips down the sides. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the ganache to firm up. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.