9 Sticks of Butter and 10 Eggs?
Well, I’ve always said I’m not the best baker and yesterday’s attempt at Ina’s Devil’s Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream proved my point. I wanted to mimic Ina’s cookbook cover, so making this cake was a must. The amount of eggs and butter required for the cake and frosting made me shake my head…but my husband, who grew up on a dairy farm looked at the pile of butter and was in animal fat heaven!
Making the cake batter was easy. The touch of brewed coffee really enhanced the chocolate flavor. But I was surprised how thick the batter turned out. It calls for baking it in two 9-inch round cake pans. They filled to nearly overflowing…that should have been my first clue that something might go wrong.
So after they were baked and completely cooled I attempted to slice them in half so that I’d get 4 EVEN layers…hahaha…not happening. On the first cake I tried Ina’s suggestion of inserting long wooden skewers horizontally as a guide for where to cut…epic fail. The second cake I sliced horizontally free hand and it worked much better. Needless to say my 4 layer cake became a 3 layer cake because one layer basically crumbled into a heaping mess. I guess I’ll save the crumbs to make cake pops? Next time I make this cake I will divide the batter between 4 (9 inch cake pans), decrease the cooking time and have 4 very uniform layers to frost!
Then the real challenge came when I attempted my first meringue buttercream! Her recipe for the buttercream is for someone way more advanced than me. I’ve made them in the past, but never one that required boiling sugar water on the stove to precisely 240 degrees and then slowly adding it to egg whites. Amazingly that part when quite well. But when I went to slowly add 9 STICKS OF BUTTER CUT INTO 2 TABLESPOON CUBES all looked well at first and then the dreaded BREAKING OF THE BUTTERCREAM happened. That silky meringue turned in to a curdled, somewhat bumpy mess! I almost cried thinking about the entire HOUR I had run my mixer on high to whip the perfect meringue…only to have it FAIL after adding copious amounts of butter. Had I been smart I would have searched the internet to find out how to fix this common problem. Don’t be like me...click here to find out what to do if your buttercream breaks
So I did my best to frost my 3 LAYER cake with broken buttercream…smoothing it out as best I could and sending it right away to the garage where it could stay cool and firm up (I live in Missouri and it’s been bitterly cold…but perfect for rescuing a soggy buttercream). The cake actually wasn’t a complete FAIL, was actually quite tasty and was the star of our “Cooking for Alan” photo.
When things got “bumpy” and “crumbly” as I was making this cake I thought of the incredible Julia Child and remember her saying never apologize for a dish that might not be perfect. Sage advice Julia!