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Jfood Has a Baking Lesson - Chocolate Cake Needs Chocolate

With a lot of encouragement from many hounds, Jfood tried to bake again. Mrs. Jfood took little Jfood shopping before heading back to college so he had the house to himself. Jfood decided to try the following chocolate cake (Mrs. Jfood LOVES chocolate cake).
First problem was there were only 9” pans in the house (thankfully they were 2” tall). Jfood figured if he had extra he would make some cupcakes. But when he asked Mrs. Jfood she just told him to put it all in. Mrs. Jfood left and Jfood began. Mixed all the cake ingredients and into the oven. 70 minutes later they looked great, but a little pale compared to the picture. But on to the frosting.
Jfood began to assemble the ingredients for the frosting. He stared at the cocoa powder at the other end of the counter and wondered why he bought it and why it was not in the frosting recipe. And then it hit him. It was supposed to be in the cakes. OMG, what a yutz. So in typical Jfood fashion, he told himself OK shake it off and start again. So two new cakes were mixed and then he placed these into the oven. Now these puppies looked like the correct color and they poofed nicely just above the pans. Out of the oven and the cooling process begins.
A couple of hours later Jfood began the frosting, fairly easy stuff. But it took forever to cool to “spreadable”, almost 2 hours, with the last 30 in the fridge. Then Jfood called Mrs. Jfood for help, “Now what do I do?” She guided him through the frosting process and then he added some powdered sugar around the edges. As she told him, “OK leave it alone now,” he smiled. It was a good looking cake but it was enormous. Jfood looked at the recipe again and saw “Serves 12-14.” OMG this was huuuuge.
After dinner came the big test, what did this thing taste like? So the dinner dishes were cleared and Mrs. Jfood began to slice. On the slicing scale she thought it held together very well but not great and gave it an 8. It was not the moist glistening cake that Jfood was anticipating either. Then onto the real test.
A first bite and Jfood was both proud and disappointed. The texture of the cake was outstanding and Jfood gave this a 10. The flavor though was not as rich and chocolaty as he had hoped. Now the frosting. That was a 8-9. It was really good. Then for the real critics. Everyone agreed that the numbers Jfood assigned were correct, very good but not great cake but they liked the icing better.
On the following morning with more that ¾ of a cake left, what’s a family to do? Of course, have a piece. Well the flavor of the cake changed over night. It went from the numbers above to a straight-out 10. Although Jfood understands that most braises taste better the next day, he never heard of this theory in cakes. He looked at Mrs. Jfood and asked, “so how is it today?” She looked at him and said, “it’s totally different, the flavors are more intense and they work great together.” So Jfood was not crazy.
So Jfood learned two lessons:
1 – Chocolate cake needs chocolate flavoring of some sort:
2 – Patience is a huge virtue in baking
3 – Cakes may taste better day 2
Nice ending to the Holiday Weekend.

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  1. Oh, definitely some cakes and other goodies are better the next day.

    Others, on the OTOH, are best eaten the same day, or even ASAP.

    Jfood gets merit points for making good icing, which is the only reason cake exists, in the first place.

    Plus he gets an 11 for making a chocolate cake for Mrs. Jfood because Mrs. Jfood likes chocolate cake.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MaggieRSN

      Thank you for the efforts and exploits of Jfood and the Mrs. Dutchdot enjoys reading what you're up to.

    2. Seems like jfood has learned 3 lessons for life as well.
      1 - Happiness needs to be incorporated during each day
      2 - Patience is a huge virtue in gaining happiness
      3 - Happiness lasts more than one day if the right ingredients are incorporated.

      1. Jfood what a great story for you to share. It is inspiring to read about your efforts and wonderful that you would make something your wife loves.

        I've learned over the years that many baked goods do taste better the next day...in fact some have been given a reprieve due to time.

        I only make cake so I can justify the frosting.

        This story also made me laugh because many moons ago when my aunt was a newlywed she wanted to surprise her new husband by baking him a cake (she was and still is much more of a cook than a baker). She was most excited by the prospect of such a task and took great pride in her endeavor. However, after an unusual amount of time passed and the cake appreared not to be done, she called my grandmother. My grandmother proceeded to go through the various steps of making a cake with my aunt. It was during this checklist that my aunt discovered that she forgot to incorporate eggs in her cake. The eggs were sitting on the counter. She eventually found the humor in this mishap..albeit was years later and every now and then we laugh about it.

        1. Very enjoyable, jfood. I hope someone here gives us the chemistry behind the day 2 phenom.

          should jfood choose to make a habit of this wife-pleasing chocobaking. . .
          I am not a frequent baker either, and these both work for me

          links you to the Very Good Chocolate Cake from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
          discussed previously here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406975
          It has a super fine crumb, and contains coffee. Very Southern, which for once does not mean Too Sweet.

          Nigella's molten chocolate baby-cakes are a fine expression of love

          1. hi jfood, congrats. entertaining to read as always, and informative! the link to your cake recipe didn't wrok for me. Could you just tell me the name, so I can know which cake transofrms into a 10 overnight?

            4 Replies
            1. re: alex8alot

              Try this:

              It's called Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Gourmet 1999 linked via Epicurious.com

              1. re: jfood

                This is my go to recipe for birthday cakes. Props to you for your perseverance -- too many people simply throw up their hands and give up after one or two failures.

                To avoid leaving out an ingredient, I place all of them to the left of my workspace before I begin baking. As I use them, they are placed on my right. I developed this method after an unfortunate episode with a lemon meringue pie.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  i too, am incredibly anal about setting up my mise when baking, then i can just go w/o thinking about it! i find that measuring and setting up also helps get me into the methodical-but-detached, "baking mode" frame of mind.

                  jfood thanks for the baking chronicles. very cool.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Very good idea. Sometimes, to speed things along and save what paltry counterspace I have, I measure out all of the dry ingredients the night before I am baking. If there are nuts, I toast and sift and chop them. If there is chocolate to be shaved or chopped, I do that too. I know it takes the same amount of time whether you do these things the night before or the day that you are baking, but somehow it seems to go faster when I do some "prep."

              2. Congratulations Jfood. For the record, chocolate cake ALWAYS tastes better a day after baking (or two). Similarly, chocolate cake also tastes better after freezing and defrosting at a later stage. The chocolate flavour really develops. This is especially relevant knowledge for brownies - I refuse to eat my sister's famous brownies within 24 hours of baking, because it's totally worth holding off for a day.

                Another aspect of chocolate cakery to explore is cocoa vs chocolate; most bakers prefer one over the other as the flavouring in a chocolate cake. I personally prefer melted dark chocolate, because I think the flavour is richer and more complex. It's good to try both, though.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gooseberry

                  "For the record, chocolate cake ALWAYS tastes better a day after baking (or two). "

                  I find this to be true of most brownie recipes as well.

                2. Congratulations. Perseverence conquers all. And A+ for baking for Mrs. Jfood.

                  Another chocolate cake recommendation -- it's in the book Classic Home Desserts, by the late Richard Sax, published in the mid-'90's. I can't remember the exact name of the recipe offhand, but it's just fabulous. When a then-newlywed and non-baking friend wanted a cake recipe for her husband, I passed along this one. I have yet to have anyone not like this cake.

                  Interesting point about the overnight thing. I am going to ask an expert/professional I know and see what she says.

                  1. Congratulations jfood! :)

                    I've found that chocolate cake and even most quick breads taste better the day after baking...which is good since I usually bake a cake on one day then frost it the next morning so it has a chance to cool (so I don't stand around waiting and checking repeatedly...or frost it before it's cool and end up with drippy frosting). As for quick breads, waiting til they're completely cool will make slicing easier.

                    and yes, when it comes to baking, patience is certainly a virtue.

                    1. Which cake is it on epi? I can only get that link to open to the general recipes page, and now I'm brimming with curiosity. I too made a cake on Sunday, and I was also frustrated by the result. In fact, I was so frustrated that it wasn't even close to a ten, that I left the extra 3/4 of MY cake at my mom's. Maybe it tasted better the second day too! :) That was the decadent chocolate cake in Silver Palate (COTM for Nov) but I just found it to be too sweet. Part of it stuck to the pan, too -- grrr.

                      Of course, I'm also spoiled, b/c I've made Nigella's chocolate loaf cake recently and I can vouch for that one wholeheartedly -- I think I liked it best on the third day, maybe the fourth. It's funny - I wasn't really expecting something so exciting with Nigella's cake. I was fooled because it comes in a loaf pan. I had no idea what chocolate delight awaited. She places this recipe first in her Chocolate chapter in Domestic Goddess, and that's not an accident ;)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: foxy fairy

                        Try this:


                        It's called Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Gourmet 1999 linked via Epicurious.com

                        Four buddies in the office want jfood to make for the next poker game.

                        1. re: jfood

                          WOW! I want that icing -- now! Plus, the recipe has more than 1,000 reviews, a lot even for epi! I might try it tomorrow... I need something different after my too-sweet cake on Sunday night.

                          1. re: foxy fairy

                            That exact cake is one of my favorites...you'll wish you could just roll around in the ganache...first time I made it (I was so anxious about making it and the kitchen looked like a war zone) my grown son just gripped my arm when he tasted it and moaned, kept taking bites and moaning.... And, it DOES even taste better a day or even 2 days afterwards. Congrats, JFood!!!