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Today marks the first official day of summer and in Vancouver this morning, it’s even starting to look like summer. This time of year is what Christmas is like to most people. I love the warm weather, the long days, and the carefree attitude that seems to follow. I’m horribly affected by weather so when it’s grey and dreary out, that’s exactly how I end up feeling. But this morning, I feel invigorated! I’m planning to go do some work at a coffee shop and maybe fit in a bit of shopping. We just finished the DIY project that I mentioned on Monday about those gold faux-etagere shelves but realized we don’t have a lot of things to actually put in them other than ugly textbooks. I’m hoping to find some pretty boxes and nice scented candles without spending a fortune. Wish me luck!

A couple of weekends ago I made my first chocolate cake. I’m not a huge fan (more of a moderate one) of chocolate but can appreciate a moist, rich cake that successfully highlights the flavours of chocolate and cocoa. My friends seemed to really enjoy it so I tried it again this weekend for Father’s Day and it was another hit. I halved the recipe to make a 1-layer 9″ cake each time. Admittedly, I only have 1 round cake pan (I rarely make cakes) which means I can only make 1 layer at a time, so I just didn’t have time to make both. Plus, 1-layer means half the calories. But it’s not too rich or sweet so I think 2 layers would be amazing.

This was the first cake I made, taken with my iPhone.

This is the second one I made this weekend, taken with my Nikon.

Devil’s Food Cake
Slightly adapted from David Lebovitz
I’ve doubled everything here so the recipe reflects a 2-layer version. I also recommend using good quality chocolate for the ganache frosting. It made a noticeable difference between the two cakes I made.

9 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. flour
2 tbsp. cornstarch**
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. strong coffee
1/2 c. milk

**I use a combination of flour and cornstarch in lieu of 1 1/2 cups of cake flour (not self-rising) because that’s what I had in my pantry. If you have cake flour, use it but if you don’t, flour and cornstarch worked as a great alternative.

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup water (or cream)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and ensure that the oven rack is positioned in the centre. Then grease 2 9″ cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

For the cake, sift together the cocoa, flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl (preferably one for an electric stand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together for 5 minutes or until smooth. Then add one egg at a time until fully incorporated. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go so that everything is mixed in.

Mix the coffee and milk together. Add half of the dry mixture into the large mixing bowl with your wet ingredients, then add the coffee and milk, and then add the second half of the dry mixture. Make sure to mix it a bit in between each step.

Pour half of the batter in each cake pan. Give the pans a light tap on the counter to pop any air bubbles that may have developed in the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, and then remove and cool completely on cooling racks before frosting (at least another 40 minutes).

For the frosting, melt the chocolate with the water over a water bath, which is basically a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of very low simmering water. The steam from the water is what heats and melts the chocolate. Stir gently with a spatula until fully melted. Then remove from the heat and add butter, stirring gently until fully melted so that the ganache is smooth and shiny. Wait at least 1 hour or until room temperature before frosting.

To assemble, place one layer upside down on your working surface so that the flat end is facing up. Spread a good sized layer of icing over the top and then add the second cake layer on top, right side up (so the top, curved part is facing up). Then spread the top and sides with the rest of the icing, creating pretty swirls as you go.