the silver wedding anniversary chocolate tier cake

The Chocolate Tier Cake

When I saw Ina Garten make a chocolate tier cake for her wedding anniversary, I thought, How easy is that?  After careful planning to make sure I had the right size pans, I melded together Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Domingo Cake recipe (two recipes) and Ina’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (one recipe). I had one cake layer leftover and about three cups of icing. If you’re going to make this icing recipe, halve it or freeze the left overs.

So I made this cake for my sister-in-law’s 25th wedding anniversary. For this cake, I wanted a simple home-made effect so I swirled the frosting and tossed large pinches of silver dragées on top. This is the first time I’ve ever tried a tiered cake. I admit it made me nervous but now that I’ve done it, I think I can do it again. I’m up for the next challenge. How easy is that?

Chocolate Domingo Cake (adapted from The Cake Bible)

Have at room temperature:
42g unsweetened cocoa
160g cup sour cream (I used plain low-fat yogurt)
2 large eggs (3 oz.)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
156g sifted cake flour
200g superfine or caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g unsalted butter, softened (7 oz.)

1 recipe (or half the recipe) Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Silver dragées

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease inch springform pan, bottom lined with a waxed paper circle, greased again and then floured.

Cake Baker’s Note: I also made another recipe of this cake and divided the layers between two 7-inch springform pans. One I used to make the top tier, the other I reserved for another use (i.e. snacking!).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sour cream or yogurt, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and 1/2 the cocoa mixture all at once. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining cocoa mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

Cake Baker’s Note: It’s so easy to overmix this cake.  Stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Don’t count the scraping time in the beating time.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about half full. Tap the pans lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan as it cools. Loosen the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula just to be sure the cake is not sticking to the pan sides. The top of the cake will be rounded but will become flat on cooling. Invert onto a greased wire rack and remove the paper liner. Re-invert so that the top is up and cool completely before frosting. The finished height will be 1 1/2 inches.

Frost each cake separately. Place the smaller cake on a cardboard round and carefully place it in the middle of the larger cake. I used a pancake turner to do this. I eye-balled where I wanted to place the cake but you can, to be more precise, use the smaller cake pan to mark the top of the frosting on the larger cake just where you want to place the smaller tier.

To reuse frozen frosting, let it come to room temperature first then whip it. I had this frosting in the freezer since December 22nd and it still tastes good. 🙂


chocolate buttercream frosting


This is only the second time I’ve ventured into the Italian buttercream frostings, a delicious confection for frosting cakes. Previously I made a malt buttercream for the chocolate malt layer cake: first the egg whites are whipped then hot syrup is added to the whipped egg whites.

I have discovered Italian meringues are well worth the trouble because the so-called “quick” or American buttercreams–whipping butter and sugar– are way too sweet. It’s true that when chilled, the Italian buttercream turns stiff into butter, but at room temperature, it is deliciously light, airy, and doesn’t seem to be as sweet even though a similar amount of sugar has been added to it.

This chocolate buttercream frosting is adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. It’s different from the traditional method in that the egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar are heated and then whipped. The addition of espresso coffee and rum intensify the chocolate flavors so I recommend adding them to the frosting. This recipe makes more than 4 cups of frosting because, after frosting 3 seven-inch round layers I had 3 cups left over.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep time: 15 minutes
Active time: 60 minutes (includes frosting the cake)
Yield: 4 cups

1 pound dark chocolate (at least 65% cacao)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons dark rum

Set a large pot filled one-third full of water. Heat it to simmering on the stove. Meanwhile, chop the chocolates and put them in a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water. Stir the chocolates occasionally to melt. As the melting progresses, stir constantly so all the pieces melt and the chocolate becomes smooth. Set aside. Don’t turn off the heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix until frothy. Scrape the mixture into another heat-proof bowl and set this over the simmering water. Stir constantly, warming the egg whites and dissolving the sugar and salt, about 3-5 minutes. Test the mixture by rubbing some of it between your fingers to be sure there is no sugar grit remaining. Scrape back into the mixing bowl.

Cake Baker’s Note: I rinsed out the mixing bowl before putting back the warmed egg white mixture.

Whip the egg whites on high speed until the meringue turns glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. By now the bowl should feel cool to the touch.

Reduce to medium speed. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. The frosting will turn yellow and at times will look curdled. The volume will also deflate. Keep going, this is normal. Scrape down the sides.

Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum. Beat on medium speed until the chocolate mixture is blended. If the buttercream seems too soft, cool the mixture then beat it again. At the French Culinary Institute in NY, the chef put the bowl of buttercream in an ice water bath.

Frost the cake.