- Course: Dessert
- Total Time: Under 4 Hours
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 90 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
I have a bad Amazon habit. You know the “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping” line? Well, the not-so-tough get their retail therapy online. Or I do: when I can’t sleep I start ordering books. And I comfort myself twice over by telling myself how useful they are, how they really help my work. I offer this recipe, adapted from a book that in itself soothes, Tish Boyle’s Diner Desserts, bought at about 3 A.M. one unravelingly wakeful night, as proof.
This is the sort of cake you’d want to eat the whole of when you’ve been dumped. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on its stand, comforts.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter and line the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring cup whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand mixer; the standing mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the KitchenAid a comforting presence in itself.
Bake the cakes for 45–50 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave—2–3 minutes on medium should do it—or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
In another bowl beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (again, I use the KitchenAid here) and then add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until every-thing’s light and fluffy. I know sifting is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.