It should come to be expected that every June you will see a cake recipe posted here. It's obligatory, really, the June birthday cake.
I and several of my friends celebrate birthdays in June or around this time, so we use this as an excuse to get together to eat and chat, catch up, and, undoubtedly, laugh. And so we do, until, of course, someone finally, and usually impatiently, asks, "so when are going to cut the cake?".
No birthday is complete without a surprise, right? There aren't any trick candles here (aren't those things annoying?) the surprise is that this cake is baked with pureed beets, which is a traditional way of making devil's food that dates back to wartime rationing.
Beets in cake?
Happy birthday to me!
Devil's Food Cake
from Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again, by Lisa Schroeder
I can't stress enough that you should freeze the cake layers after you've baked and cooled them, and the reason is two-fold. One, it breaks up the baking and assembling process, which, done all at once, can be quite daunting and Two, it's so much easier to assemble and frost frozen layers.
To freeze your cake layers, let them cool completely after baking. Then wrap each layer thoroughly in plastic wrap and place on a flat surface in the freezer. I stack mine on small cookie sheets placed on top of my stackable cooling racks.
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature, divided
1 (15 ounce) can beets (not pickled!) with the juice, pureed until very smooth
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using butter, oil, or nonstick cooking spray, thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch cake pans and line their bottoms with parchment paper circles.
2) Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3) Place a medium saucepan about one third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to keep the water warm but barely simmering. Place the chopped chocolate in a double boiler or bowl that fits over the saucepan. Set the bowl over the barely simmering water and heat, stirring now and then, until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
4) Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides now and then. Beat until light and fluffy and pale in color, about 5 minutes.
5) Reduce the speed to medium-high and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and pour in the melted and cooled chocolate. Increase the speed to medium and beat for another minute, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6) With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add 1/4 cup buttermilk. Repeat the process, ending with the last third of dry ingredients. When incorporated, add the pureed beets with their juice and mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
7) Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire rack before frosting or freezing (see note above).
For the frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1) Place the cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2) Remove the cream from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. Keep whisking until the chocolate is melted.
3) Let the mixture cool on the counter, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 2 hours (the time it should take to make, bake, and cool the cake layers, if you choose not to freeze the layers).
Assemble the cake:
1) Place one cake (bottom side up) in the center of a serving plate. Tuck a few strips of parchment or wax paper under the edges of the cake to keep the plate clean. Place one-quarter of the frosting in the center of the cake and spread to cover the surface. Place the second layer on top of the first and frost the top and sides of the cake. Remove the strips of parchment paper when finished.