Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Bloody Brain Cake


Braiinnnsssssss -- nothing gets you in the spooky spirit like chowing down on some cerebral hemispheres amiright? 

This bloody monstrosity consists of dark chocolate stout cake with layers of boozy cherries, vanilla buttercream, and marshmallow fondant. 

This was my first time ever making a cake this thicc. I wanted to get that rounded shape so I ended up baking a single 9inch cake pan and the largest glass bowl I owned. Great in theory but I think by baking it in a larger vessel, it made the texture of the cake dense AF. Ideally, you would want to bake this cake in multiple smaller layers but I wanted the structure to be sturdy to hold all of the brain squiggles (<= totally a scientific term). Next time I would bake the cake in smaller layers and use dowels to stabilize. 

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake

Serves 24 | Recipe adapted from King Authur Flour

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 TBS baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

Drunken Cherries

Bakers note: I prefer using fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries since they are far superior in flavor but since they're out of season and I really wanted that blood-red color, canned cherries will do in a pinch.

2 (21oz) cans of cherries in syrup
2 TBS cherry liquor (sold as kirsch or kirschwasser)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Drain the cherries, reserving 3/4 cup (180ml) of the heavy syrup. Set cherries aside. Simmer syrup and cherry liquor in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced down to 1/4 cup (60ml) add vanilla at this time if using. Brush reduced syrup all over the cake layers, reserving any leftover syrup. The cakes can be slightly warm when you do this. You can also use the cooled syrup to dye the frosting and the fondant if needed. 

 Vanilla Buttercream

½ cup unsalted butter softened
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract ( I love using a vanilla bean paste)
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 TBS of cherry mixture (optional)

Cream room temperature butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract. Add spoonfuls of cherries and cherry juice, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until the desired color is reached.

Marshmallow Fondant 

1 package (16 oz.) white mini marshmallows
2-5 TBS water
2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar)
icing colors (optional)

If you don't have a Kitchenaid mixer, pour the powdered sugar on the counter keeping in all together in a mound. Then, with your hands make a good size hole in the middle keeping it in a mound. Pour your melted marshmallow mixture in the center hole you made. Keeping your hands from touching the marshmallow mixture, start pushing the sides of the mound in the middle without pushing them too deep and in the melted mixture (kinda like making pasta). Your hands will never get into the marshmallow mixture. Eventually, you can start kneading until the mixture is smooth - adding coloring if needed. Carefully section off and roll long sections like you're making a pretzel. Press onto the outside of the cake (mine just naturally stuck but you can use buttercream as a "glue" if needed). Use leftover cherries to brush on the outside, this will also give the outside that wet juicy brain appearance. 

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