December 29, 2011

2-Layer German Chocolate Cake

I made my first-ever layer cake today!  We're celebrating my dad's 60th birthday this weekend, and his favorite cake is German Chocolate.  I can see why people prefer making box cakes because it did take a few hours, including cooling time, but it was worth it.

The main ingredients in this cake are German's sweet chocolate, coconut and pecans.  It's quite rich, and the "Kraft Kitchen Tips" on the recipe I followed had me laughing. 
  • "This beloved and classic 3-layer cake is the perfect choice for a special occasion. Plan ahead and eat accordingly before enjoying a slice of this cake." 
  • "Enjoy this rich, classic BAKER'S recipe. A small amount goes a long way so keep tabs on portions." 
Having never made a layer cake before, I consulted The New Best Recipe by America's Test Kitchen because I love their step-by-step illustrations.  Here are some tips I found helpful on pages 848-853.

Parchment Rounds -
  • Trace the bottom of your cake pan roughly in the center of a sheet of parchment paper.  Fold the traced circle in half and then in half again, then cut just inside the outline of the quarter circle.  The resulting rounds of parchment will exactly fit in your pan.
Portioning Layers -
  • To ensure that you put equal amounts of batter in each cake pan, use a kitchen scale to measure the weight of each filled pan.
Frosting Layer Cakes -
  • To anchor the cake, spread a dab of frosting in the center of a cardboard cake circle.  Center the first layer of cake on the cardboard, bottom-side down. 
  • To frost, place a large blob of frosting in the center of the cake and spread it to edges with an icing spatula.  Push the filling into place, as opposed to scraping it.
  • Using a second cardboard circle, slide the second cake layer, bottom-side up (place the cardboard on top of the cake layer and flip it), on top of the frosted bottom layer, making sure the layers are aligned.  Then, press the cake firmly into place. 

While browsing online for German chocolate cake recipes, I came across a photo I liked on Joy of Baking, and decorated the top of my cake in a similar fashion.  I recommend pulling out the most intact pecan halves before chopping them for the frosting.

2-Layer German Chocolate Cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (16 servings)
    • 4 oz package German's Sweet Chocolate
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 6 oz evaporated milk
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • 1 1/3 cups (3.5 oz) sweetened coconut
    • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (5oz package, if you want to decorate with pecan halves)


    • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover bottom of two (9-inch) round pans with parchment paper and spray sides with cooking spray. To cut parchment rounds, trace the bottom of the cake pan on a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the traced circle in half and then cut just inside the outline of the circle.
    • Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 min. Remove from microwave, and stir until chocolate is completely melted.
    • In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.
    • In mixer bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
    • Next in the mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add melted chocolate and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
    • Next add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. Finally add egg whites, stirring gently until well blended and then pour into prepared pans.
    • Bake 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from oven to wire racks, and immediately run a small spatula around cakes in pans.
    • Leave cakes in pans and cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
    • Spread coconut-pecan frosting between cake layers and on top of cake, leaving the sides exposed.
    • In a large saucepan, add egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Then whisk until well blended.
    • Add sugar and butter, then cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring constantly.
    • Remove from heat, then add coconut and pecans. Mix well.
    • Cool to desired spreading consistency.
    Recipe adapted from: Kraft Foods
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