This was my birthday cake this year. It was in some ways an accident; but haven't you heard of accidents that turn out simply fabulous? This was one of them.
It began with the recipe for chocolate cake linked below. It is a large recipe. This fact dawned on me slowly as I mixed everything together. (TIP: Always read a recipe carefully, all the way through, so as not to suffer such dawning revelations.) I had assumed this recipe would make two 9-inch cake rounds, but as I poured that beautiful chocolate concoction into my two 9-inch cake pans, there was an obvious excess of batter.
One Bowl Chocolate Cake
(Martha Stewart, found here)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
When I accepted the fact that my batter would not fit in two nine inch cake pans, I rummaged around in the cabinet to find a third. The only pan I found was an 8-inch pan, which I used despite the discrepancy in size. My sisters and I decided that it would not be the end of the world; we would simply put the small round on top.
Thus, my revised instructions:
Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, AND one 8-inch (2 inches deep); dust with cocoa.
Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Combine well. Mixing on a medium speed, add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, face-up, to wire racks. Let cool completely.
The second accident was my "frosting." I scanned a few chocolate frosting recipes, and told myself I'd just improvise--how wrong can you go with chocolate frosting?
Telling myself I was just making minor changes on this recipe, I combined the following ingredients in a small saucepan:
Aprox. 1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips
Aprox. 4 1/2 Hersheys chocolate bars
Aprox. 2 cups whole milk
Aprox. 1 cup half & half
Ok. When you have that many approximations, chances are you have no idea what you are doing. That was the case with me, deny it though I may.
As I stirred this chocolaty brew, it became clear that it would never have the privilege of being called frosting; it would remain a humble chocolate syrup.
However, there was nothing to be done, except hold my course and be content with the consequences. And so I did.
My mother assembled the cake while I was busy with something else, and when I saw the cake myself it was nothing like I would have expected. But could this cake have been a more beautiful accident?
Assemble layers, pouring chocolate over each layer before stacking, and being sure to place the small round on top. Cover with the remaining chocolate syrup.
It will forever be remembered as the Chocolate Fountain Cake, with a pool of chocolate reflecting each candle flame, and rivers of syrup running down the tiered layers of moist cake.