Friday, January 20, 2012

[Tish Boyle] Chocolate Buttermilk Cakes

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Half a lemon. That was what led to this cake. Every time I opened the fridge door, I would see that half a lemon sitting there, bald and sad. The zest was used to make these, and my helper had used one half to marinate some fish. I don't know about you, but when I see half-eaten food lying around, I feel the need to finish it up quickly. So, I decided to make buttermilk with that half a lemon. I was thinking pancakes.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we were out of maple syrup, so pancakes were out. Instead, I googled "buttermilk" and "chocolate cake", and found this recipe by Tish Boyle. I like Tish Boyle. Her recipes have worked for me (see here and here). To be honest, though, I did not expect much from this recipe because I thought I had found my favourite chocolate cake (which I blogged about twice, by the way!), and I thought there was a slim chance I'd find another that would wow me as much.

But this one did. It knocked our socks off, and I had to quickly put aside these few pieces for taking pics.

You know how this cake won me over? Let me count the ways:

(1) It has a crumb texture that is totally spot-on! It is tender, yet firm enough to provide some 'bite'. I absolutely love cakes like that.

(2) The chopped chocolate bits that are mixed into the batter become melted into the cake as it bakes, and every mouthful provides a burst of gooey chocolate. Yes, drool.

(3) The flavour of chocolate is outstanding - incredibly robust and intense. But to get this effect, you have to use really good quality chocolate/cocoa. And by "really good quality", I am referring to my smooth, dark and sexy Monsieur Valrhona.

In summary, WOWZA!

How does this cake compare to the Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake? Just as good. Seriously. I love both equally. Please don't make me choose. I want to have my cakes and eat them too!

So here it is: Chocolate Buttermilk Cakes. Do leave them overnight to allow the flavours to develop. I know, I know. It's gonna be hard but trust me, you will be happier for it. Chocolate cakes always taste better on Day 2. Before serving, warm up slightly in the microwave and then, with a cuppa by your side, slowly savour the magic.

(from Tish Boyle Sweet Dreams)

Makes 6 individual cakes.
Storage: in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Special Equipment: one 6-cake Bundt-lette pan

- 1 cup (4oz/114g) cake flour (plain flour is fine too)
- 1/2 cup (1.6oz/46g) Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder*
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6oz/170g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups (8.8oz/250g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk**
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Kahlua*** (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 ounces (113g) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate**** or 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels bittersweet
* I used Valrhona.
** If you do not have buttermilk, pour 180ml of whole milk in a cup, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, stir and let it sit for 5mins. You can alternatively use about 1 tbsp of white vinegar in place of lemon juice.
*** I used 1 tbsp rum.
**** I used Valrhona Caraïbe 66%.

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1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Generously grease the interior of a 6-cake Bundt-lette pan (it's best to use shortening here). Dust the molds with flour and tap out the excess.*
* I used my Wilton mini loaf pan and greased using butter.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for 2 minutes, until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes, until the mixture is well blended and light. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Kahlua (or rum), and vanilla extract. If your mixer has a splatter shield attachment, attach it now. At low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk cream mixture in two additions, and mixing just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the finely chopped chocolate or miniature semisweet morsels. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake molds, dividing it evenly and smoothing the tops.

5. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

6. Invert the cakes onto the rack and cool completely.
* If you intend to chill the cake(s), make sure they are stored in a tightly-lidded container to prevent drying out.

Not a good-looker (my fault - I don't do them justice), but as they say, never judge a book by its cover. This one's for keeps.
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  1. I cannot make this. It's impossible to wait overnight before I cut into it.

  2. valrhona cocoa powder is the BOMB! used it to prepare hot chocolates. seriously spot on stuff!

  3. I love Tish - her Cake Book is wonderful, and her Luxe Pound Cake is my go-to recipe! Can't wait to try this out.

  4. Right up nana's husband's alley:) Not a good looker? are so funny!

    Mouth watering!

  5. Oh girlfriend...this looks amazing! I need to try this?.love Tish Boyle....
    Gorgeous pics! You are the cake queen!
    L xo

  6. I too agree with you, Tish Boyle's cakes often turn our very well. I am waiting to try her Devil's Food cake, It is her mother's recipe (i suppose)and it looks absolutely stunning.

  7. thank you for this wonderful recipe.
    initially i wanted to make your flourless chocolate & almond cake but i come across this recipe of yours yesterday and i thought why don't i give this a try 1st.

    i just finished baking the cake 2 hrs ago, wah... i couldn't bring my nose away from the cake coz it smells sooooo good. as u might have already guessed, i couldn't resist to cut a piece out to try.. i'm amazed of the density and the super moist texture of this cake. it's almost like the cake hati parik (the one that needs to be steamed for >8hrs). but i prefer this dense yet crumbly texture.. and yes... i agree with you, this cake simply melts on your tongue, the melted chocolate explodes in your mouth.. wah.. heavenly..

    by the way, i omitted the kahlua as i don't have it at home nor o i have any rum. the cake still turn out so well. and i tent my cake after 25min, i still need to bake for an hour before the skewer comes out clean.
    glad i tent my cake,coz this is the 1st time i bake a chocolate cake without burning the top. :D

    next i will try the flourless chocolate & almond cake.

  8. Thanks for coming by, everyone!

    Janice: Glad to know someone likes the cake as much as I do! :) It's amazing, right? Am very happy it turned out beautifully for you and I hope the next one you're attempting will be just as successful! Thanks for giving such lovely feedback. :)

  9. I'm always on the search for a good chocolate cake recipe....impressed by this the deep,earthy color.Thanx for sharing Ju!

  10. hello! first time I'm here and I laughed when I read about the half-lemon. I tend to find that in my fridge as well after some previous baking or cooking. thanks for sharing this recipe, the chocolate cake just looks GREAT!

  11. HI Ju

    have been an avid reader of your blog and have tried several of your recipes, they all turned out well! this chocolate cake looks good but would like to ask, can i bake it in one pan? if yes, what is the pan size and baking time? or can i use those paper muffin cups? and how long should i bake them for if using muffin cups? thks


  12. ramya: Thanks for dropping by. Hope you try the cake. :)

    m: Thanks. Lol, glad I am not the only one with a half-lemon dilemma. :p

    octopusmum: I am sure you can bake in one pan. Just don't bake in a deep (tall) pan because you may burn the sides of the cake while waiting for the centre to get cooked. I think probably an 8-inch or 9-inch pan would be OK? I would not try making them into muffins or cupcakes as they may cook too quickly & become dry, and you don't get to enjoy the great texture. This cake needs to be "just cooked" to retain that moistness. I think they are better as small or regular loaf cakes. HTH.

  13. HI Ju

    thks for the reply. it is a gd thing i asked or i would have made them into cup cakes to save baking time! i will use either an 8 inch round pan or a 9 inch loaf pan. may i know the baking time? can i just add another 15 mins to the 30 mins you have stated? sorry for so many questions...
    regards octopusmum

  14. octopusmum: I would think yes, add another 15mins. I'd say, start checking when the cake is at the 30-min mark. Do tent with a foil too, cos chocolate cakes tend to burn easily. Good luck!

  15. HI Ju
    tks ! will try this after i tried the cream cheese pound cake recipe you posted! btw, would like to take this opportunity to thank u for sharing the pioneer women's cinnamon roll, almond butter cake, steam prawn w glass noodles, etc etc all of them r easy to do recipes with good results! regards octopusmum

  16. This cake looks so moist!! I would love to have some.. well, I wish I could! ;)

  17. Hi dear, where can I buy those lovely wilton baking tin? ;)

  18. HI Ju

    i baked this last friday and i must say it is really v good! thks for sharing. the texture and taste r like what u described, absolutely heavenly. i found it a bit too sweet though even though i cut the sugar by 10g. the next time i make this, i will cut further to 230g. and another thing, i didn't line the tin and when i tried to unmold, the bottom of the cake was stuck to the tin and part of the cake broke..sob! so next time, i will definitely line the tin for easy removal. this recipe is a keeper!

  19. This recipe = WIN!!! Thanks Ju :D

    I doubled the recipe and made the cakes in both mini loaf tins and bundlette pans. Both came out absolutely yum but there was a clear difference in texture. I found the mini loaf pan made a fluffy, mousse like cake. The bundlette pan on the other hand yielded a more firm, cakier texture - due to the heating element in the center.
    This is a must use good quality chocolate kind of cake. My father in law almost fainted when he found out I chopped up his Godiva chocolate bars to use in the cake :p
    No complaints after he had a few pieces though!

  20. octopusmum, Wen: Very HAPPY to hear your wonderful feedback! ^.^

  21. Hi! Just wanna check, for the cocoa powder do I use 1/2 cup or 46g? Isn't 46g 1/4 cup? Thanks! ;)

  22. Anon: The cup/gram measurements are from Tish Boyle's original recipe. I think it's best to just stick to it whether you are using cups or grams. However, I do understand your confusion ... I checked a few conversion websites and saw that 1/2 cocoa yielded different answers. For me, I always weigh my ingredients ... more accurate that way. If in doubt, go by weight - in this case, use 46g of cocoa powder. At least I can vouch that it worked out for me. :)

  23. hi i was wondering where did u purchase ur valrhona chocolate and powder?

  24. Hi I'm new to baking. What's 'tent your cake'?

  25. It means to cover with foil.

  26. Can i use this as base for my chocolate yogurt cake? If i put it in fridge will it dry out? Or which chocolate cake recipe is better? Looking for a moist one as my mum love those. :)


    1. Hi Anne, I'm not sure which chocolate yogurt cake? You can put it in the fridge but keep it covered. It will "thaw" when you leave it out for a while or microwave for a few minutes (I am referring to an unfrosted cake).

  27. Hi may I know 6 bundt-lette pan is it 6 little bundt pan? Can get from hoon huat too? Can I use 113 gm of Hershey semi sweet chocolate? Thank u so much for your recipe, hope I can bake for my hubby birthday ;)

    1. Hi Yono, I think it is OK to use a 6 little bundt pan. But if I remember correctly, I haven't seen that at Phoon Huat (or perhaps I have never noticed). Maybe you could call them first? But if you want to get good bundt pans, I saw some at Tangs basement (the brand is called Nordic Ware). As for using Hershey's, yes you can. The recipe says so: "4 ounces (113g) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate OR 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels bittersweet". HTH!

  28. Thanks for your reply ;) make the cake today I just use the square pan as I cannot find the bundt pan. I use your lastest post to bake it at 175 and reduce to 160 deg c. Not too sure if my mixing is lousy, it does not rise as nicely as your one in that pic. Did u double the portion in that round cake u made? May I over mixed :(. Nevertheless it taste yummy, thanks for the recipe ;).

  29. Hi, i'm a new reader and was googling for a buttermilk chocolate cake and I somehow ended up here. I just want to say that this is the best chocolate cake recipe i'v ever made! I could not find a mini bundt pan (tried sun lik and takashimaya) and so I baked these in a 12-cupcake pan. I just filled it up 3/4 ways.

    It was freaking awesome!! I had to bake it for 15 minutes first, and then tent it for the remaining 10 minutes. The cake was too good. Hotel standard to say the least!

    Thank you for posting up wonderful recipes, i look forward to try more of your receipts! :)

  30. Looks delicious! Can I use an 8-inch cake tin instead of a Bundt?

    P.S. I'm gonna try your Japanese cheesecake recipe this weekend!

  31. Hi Ju,
    Just checking if you refrigerate unfrosted cakes or leave them covered at room temperature? Im thinking of baking cupcakes for my son's birthday a few days in advance. Thanks! Jo

    1. Hi Jo, if unfrosted, I usually keep covered at room temperature cos fridge no space!! :p You can definitely make this cake a day or 2 in advance. In fact, the chocolate flavours would have developed nicely.

  32. hi there..just wondering if anyone else had the same results as i did..followed the recipe to the t except for the sugar which i had reduced to 180gm..the cake rose well as it came out of the oven but 10mins deflated slightly? i used a 7" pan..could that be problem? thanks! your blog! :)