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Oct 17, 2009 12:23 AM

Epicurious Double Chocolate Layer Cake - scaling down recipe?

I want to make the Epicurious Double Chocolate Layer Cake for my friend's birthday, but from the comments I've read, it seems like you get an absolutely enormous, 3-layer tall cake (if you use 9" pans, which I plan on doing). Is there anything about the recipe or its ingredients that suggest it might be problematic if I scale down the recipe by a third to make 2 9" layers? I'm not a very experienced baker so I'm cautious about experimenting. Any other tips would be appreciated as well!

Recipe here:

For cake layers

* 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

* 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
* 3 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process
) * 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting

* 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Thank you!

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  1. I have not ever scaled it down but have you tried reading some of the reviews? I think some folks have done it from what I remember but am not sure. Of course, it would be best to get advice from a fellow 'hound, I understand.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Val

      I read a couple pages of reviews (couldn't read all 1000!) and most people just do 3 9" layers. I found one person who did what I want to do, with poor results...but while I don't recall what she/he specifically said, I recall that it wasn't sufficient to make me think this would be a bad idea.

      1. re: betterbeheaven

        I don't think you should scale it down. The recipe is for two 10-inch layers, but it also successfully makes three 9-inch layers. If you want a two-layer, 9-inch cake, bake it in three 9-inch layers, use two of them, and stick the third in the freezer. Then have it later, perhaps as a more casual, unfrosted cake at home. You'll probably want to make a smaller amount of ganache, which would not pose the same risks that changing the cake recipe would.

        Some of the reviews are pretty amusing, like the people who put the whole recipe in two 8-inch pans because that's all they have, and are surprised when they overflow in the oven and make a mess.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Agree with making three layers and just keeping the third.

          The cake recipe is perfect. Why mess with it?

          I've made it dozens of times. If I want a smaller cake recipe I use the Hersheys Black Magic recipe instead. I usually add an ounce or two of chopped chocolate to the black coffee.

    2. Can you ever have too much cake? You're making it anyway, go for it!

      1. This is my favorite chocolate layer cake recipe. I wouldn't mess with it. It is amazing and if you're not a very experienced baker, I'd suggest sticking with the recipe as written. It looks great once assembled. I weigh each filled pan before baking to be sure the layers are all the same size and bake evenly. It is a heavenly dessert. Enjoy!

        1. Other than the addition of the callebaut to the hot coffee and a little cocoa difference, this recipe is essentially the same as the Hershey black magic cake which makes 2/3rd the amount of batter. I would just add 2 oz of chocolate to coffee to make 1 c of hot coffee and use the Hershey recipe.

          1. Aw, be brave. Go ahead and scale. If you calculate the 2/3 amounts and write them down first, it shouldn't be an issue. Measuring out 1/3 of a teaspoon may be a bit of a challenge, but you should be fine using a gently rounded 1/4 teaspoon. Baking mixtures are slightly more forgiving than we give them credit for. Extra bonus: if you buy a small carton of heavy cream for this, you'll have 1/3 cup left over for some other use!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowfox

              I have scaled the recipe down to make 2 round layers. I divided all of the ingredients by 2/3 and had no problems.