I am so excited about this month’s Cake Slice Bakers’ selection! I chose the Coffee Chocolate Cake (see the bottom of this post for the other cake options and the link to the other bakers) from Tatyana Nesteruk’s The European Cake Cookbook.
The main reason I chose Coffee Chocolate Cake is because it uses French Buttercream and that’s been a challenge I’ve avoided for a long time.
French buttercream begins with a cooked sugar/water syrup, lots o’ egg yolks, and tons of softened butter. I’ve seen many of the TV cake bake-off challengers stymied by this and end up with a lumpy gloopy mess. Glad to report that mine turned out divine. Bret had the leftover frosting for lunch. I’m such a good wife.
The cake layers are pretty-straightforward chocolate cake. I made those a few days beforehand so there would be time for the custard and frosting. I made the custard a day before assembling the cake and refrigerated it overnight.
The French buttercream is time consuming and a labor of love. Be patient while you put the 32 (!!) tablespoons of butter in the mixer one tablespoon at a time with 15 seconds between each addition.
You’ll (meaning me) be tempted to dump in bigger pieces a little faster by the time you get to tablespoon 20. Take a deep breath and slow down. The final result is worth it!
I have to make an admission. I added about 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to the frosting at the end because the consistency needed to be thicker for the photos. They’ll never let me into France now. Quel mauvais, Susan.
We love the French buttercream frosting and the coffee-flavored custard filling is wonderful. However…..we think the cake itself is a little dry.
I was careful about not over mixing the batter and actually baked it 20 minutes instead of the 25-28 minutes called for in the original recipe. It definitely needs more moisture. We’ve decided to take the middle layer out and it’ll be better.
I will definitely make a version of this cake again. Next time I’ll use my own chocolate cake recipe then slather on that buttercream frosting and layer with that beautiful coffee custard.
(Note: French Buttercream is very, very buttery so if you’re used to American Buttercream, it may be a bit much for you. I recommend adding the powdered sugar I mentioned above if so. Also, if you’re serving the cake from the refrigerator, let it stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes before serving so the buttercream will soften a bit.)
- For the Chocolate Cake
- 3/4 C butter, softened
- 1 C sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 C milk, lukewarm
- 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C cocoa powder
- 4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- For the Coffee Custard
- 1 egg yolk
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- 3/4 C milk
- 2 tsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp instant coffee
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- For the Buttercream
- 1/3 C water
- 1 C sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 C butter, softened and sliced into tablespoons
- 1/2 C dark chocolate chips, melted (plus more for garnish if desired)
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
- For the Cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Dissolve the instant coffee in the warm milk and stir until completely blended. Turn mixer on low and add the milk mixture into the batter. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl combine all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and sift the flour mixture into the batter. Return the bowl to the stand and mix on low until it is just combined completely (don't overmix).
- Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and bake for 20-22 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool the layers in the pan on a rack.
- For the coffee custard: in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar until completely combined (will be fairly dry and sandy at this point). Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup to form a slurry, then add to the yolk mixture, whisking to combine. In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk, flour, and instant coffee. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the milk is steaming hot.
- In a thin, slow stream, drizzle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs don't scramble. Return the milk and egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, again stirring constantly until it thickens (2-3 minutes).
- Remove the custard from the heat, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until the butter is melted and completely incorporated. Pour custard into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap lightly to cover the top of the custard (this is so it won't form a skin while cooling). Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- For the French buttercream: Whisk egg yolks in a stand mixer (with whisk attachment of course) on high until thick and pale yellow (about 4 minutes).
- Meanwhile, put the water and sugar in a small saucepan - stir until thoroughly mixed. On medium heat, cook the syrup, sweeping a wooden spoon around the bottom (not sides) occasionally, until it reaches about 238° on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
- Slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg mixture with the mixer on medium speed. After the syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer to high speed and whisk for 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled and thickened (feel the bottom of the mixing bowl and it will get less and less warm).
- Add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time and mix in on medium for 15 to 20 seconds between each addition. This is an important step and takes time, but make sure and put 1 tablespoon at a time. After completing the butter step, drizzle in the melted chocolate and whisk on high for 1 minute.
- Transfer about half of the frosting into a pastry bag with a star tip (or use a zip lock bag with a corner cut about 1/2" up). For the first two layers, pipe a 'barrier' around the edge of the cakes layer to keep in the cooled custard. Spoon in and spread half the custard on the bottom two layers. Put the third/top layer on, make sure the cake looks level, and frost the top and sides with the buttercream.
- Pipe dollops on top of the cake if you have extra frosting in the piping bag if you'd like. Drizzle thin lines of melted chocolate across the top if desired. Garnish with coffee beans or how ever you'd like.
Watch the custard - it may thicken more quickly or take another minute or two. It should be the consistency of pudding and will thicken a bit in the refrigerator.
I made my cakes on Friday, custard on Saturday (and left it in the refrigerator) and frosting on Sunday. If you're making it all in one day, free up a half-day because you wait for the custard to cool and the frosting takes awhile.
Don't vigorously stir in the sugar/water mixture while you're cooking it. If you do, the sugar crystals from the side may fall in and make it grainy. Mostly just leave it alone with a couple of bottom stirs while it bubbles away.
You will be drizzling the hot syrup into the egg mixture. That's OK, but just make sure to do it slowly and have the mixer going the whole time.
Be very patient while putting the 32 tablespoons of butter in one at a time (!!!). It does take time, but it's worth it in the end. Also be sure the mixer is going when you drizzle the warm chocolate into the butter mixture so it won't melt or clump.
The original recipe calls for unsalted butter. I use salted. It also calls for dark chocolate chocolate chips and I used regular chocolate chips.
The original recipe also calls for 1 tablespoon of coffee liqueur added at the end of the custard cooking, but I left it out as we didn't have any.
My big cheat: I added about 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to the French Buttercream (which is famous for NOT having powdered sugar in it) because I wanted the consistency a little thicker for my photos.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 792Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 284mgSodium: 600mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 2gSugar: 49gProtein: 9g
Nutrition Values are Approximate
Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The European Cake Cookbook by Tatyana Nesteruk. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th – never before – we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!
Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.
The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.
Our choices for October 2019 were ~
- Prague Cake
- Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake
- Almond Pound Cake
- Coffee Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake
Almond Pound Cake