Monday, 11 March 2013

Baking spree: German chocolate cake

As you might have already read, it was my friend E's birthday the other day. And when I asked what cake she might want me to conjure up for her, she didn't even hesitate:

More specifically, the Magnolia Bakery cookbook's German Chocolate Cake.

"No problem!" say I. I have the cookbook, I have the cake stand (actually I have three of them, and the amount I love them is worrying to say the least), I have a spare evening.

Then I looked at the recipe and got a little bit scared. It uses real chocolate instead of cocoa powder; it uses buttermilk; it involves arm-tiring whipping of egg whites. It has instructions that involve the word 'meanwhile'. 'Meanwhile' scares me - it implies multi-tasking.

Basically it's a little bit more complicated than most of the cakes I tackle, and it involves a bunch of ingredients I'd never worked with before.

But actually it turned out that, despite the multi-stage, egg-separating recipe, the only real challenge was finding all the ingredients. I can now say with confidence that if you're looking for Baker's German's sweet chocolate in Hollywood, Bristol Farms is your best bet. I can say that because I tried three other supermarkets first.

You can find the recipe here - I followed it up until the icing stage, when I went rogue. E had requested coconut icing, and while there's a great coconut frosting recipe in the Magnolia cookbook, it really requires a mixer, which I don't have in LA.

So after a little scouring of the internets, I made my own:

Coconut icing

:: 1 stick unsalted butter
:: 3 cups icing sugar
:: 1 can coconut milk
:: 200g sweetened shredded coconut
:: 1 tsp coconut flavouring

Cream the butter, then fold in the sugar and the thick top part of the can of coconut milk, discarding the liquid.

Mix until creamy, then add the coconut flavouring and about a third of the shredded coconut.

Use thin layers of icing as filling for the cake, then crumb-coat it and leave it in the fridge for half an hour, before going back and adding a second, smoother coat of icing.

Then, while the icing is still soft, sprinkle the remaining shredded coconut onto the cake.

I wouldn't necessarily describe it as the most artistic creation ever (I think maybe, in retrospect, I should have made more icing), but it seemed to go down pretty well at E's birthday dinner!


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