Sep 21, 2009

German Chocolate Cake - RECIPE

This is a German chocolate cake for people who don't like German chocolate cake--and also for those who do like it. But, beware, it doesn't contain German chocolate, which, as you may know, has nothing to do with the country, but is named for an Englishman named Samuel German, who thought it would be a good idea if people had access to baker's chocolate, which people started calling German's chocolate, which eventually just changed into German chocolate. Instead, it has cocoa, which is mixed with boiling water and left to cool. This chocolate mixture makes a much more intensely chocolate cake than any German chocolate cake I've ever tasted before.

The cake has a total of six egg whites, so it has some of the lightness of a sponge cake, but is also fudgy and moist, like a good chocolate layer cake. It also has four egg yolks, which are added separately to the cocoa mixture.

Let me just point out here that for the first time in my life, I own an egg separator. In fact, I own not only one, but two--both of which were purchased at Elizabeth's favorite dollar store in Ferndale, Michigan. It is the very best dollar store I've ever seen, with rows and rows of things that might conceivably prove useful sometime in your life, and all, or mostly all, for just one dollar. I read somewhere that dollar stores are doing very well in the recession, which has apparently now ended. After I started baking cakes, and realized that there was going to be a lot of egg separation in my future, I decided to buy a separator at Target. But Target did not have a single egg separator, and wouldn't you think that this is a very basic cooking gadget? But the Ferndale dollar store had two kinds, and I bought them both. My eggs have very thick whites, which may or may not be because they're organic, and it's much easier to separate them now.

This cake batter is extremely easy to mix up. It's very thick after the flour and sugar are added, and then turns quite thin and gruel-y looking after all the unbeaten egg whites go in.

So when you pour the chocolate gruel into the prepared cake pans, it looks like a very insignificant amount of batter, and you'll worry that you're going to end up with German chocolate pancakes.

But after 15 or 20 minutes, the cake is almost up to the top of the pan.

The layers must be immediately taken out of the pans, and put on a wire cooling rack; and then immediately upturned. This stage made Jim very nervous because he said it sounded too hectic, but it all worked out fine. The photo in the cookbook looks like the Rose-baked cake was a little taller than mine, but I was happy with the way mine turned out.

But of course a German chocolate cake is all about the filling, and the recipe for the filling is traditional--just a little better. The pecans are toasted, a step I was tempted to skip but I now believe is essential.

The frosting/filling is built on an egg-yolk, butter, and sweetened condensed milk mixture, which is no problem at all, but it must be stirred constantly for about five minutes. At several points during this five-minute period, you may be concerned that lumps are forming, but they right themselves easily, and all will be well.

When the pecans, coconut, and vanilla are mixed in, it looks delicious and tastes delicious. Actually, if you have a little taste, you may be sorely tempted to have another little taste, and then you might wonder what's the point of adding cake to this. But have a little self-control.

The filling mixture has to cool for a few hours before frosting. I baked the cake and made the filling on Sunday, and was going to keep them both refrigerated until Monday and assemble them then because my women's group was coming over for dinner on Monday. But I was a little uneasy because I was afraid the cake might be a little burned. I decided I had to just bite the bullet and taste the cake on Sunday--just to make sure it was fit to serve. It's easy to fill and frost because you don't have to worry about the sides, although there are optional directions for covering the sides with ganache.

Jim was just a little bit grumbly about this cake. He said he was willing to try it, but he didn't especially like German chocolate cake, and he didn't like coconut, although, yes, he remembered that I had made a coconut cake he was especially fond of. So it was gratifying to watch his face as he ate the first bite, as it changed from dubious bordering on hostile to surprised delight: "This is really good!" I couldn't agree more. Oh, and, by the way, it didn't taste burned at all. But the fact that I sampled it before I served it means that this is the first cake where I've broken my one-piece-only vow. But before you say I told you so, remember that I ate both pieces only to be a good hostess: the first piece to test for the possibility of over-doneness and the second piece to be sociable. My women's group loved it.

Becky: "Usually the chocolate in German chocolate cake is so light, but this is rich and chocolatey."
Margaret: German chocolate cake is my favorite, but the chocolate in this one is darker and richer tasting--more sophisticated.
Joyce: "It's very fresh and delicious. The nuts are especially tasty."
Rosemary: "It's light and rich at the same time."
Cathy: "My dad was a baker, and I ate a lot of baked things without analyzing them. Can I just say that this is very delicious?"


Serves: 14 to 16

unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch processed (alkalized) 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (sifted before measuring) 2.3 ounce 66 grams
boiling water 1/2 cup
(4 fluid ounces) 4.2 ounces 118 grams
canola or safflower oil, room temperature 1/2 cup
(4 fluid ounces) 4 ounce 108 grams
about 4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 additional whites, room temperature


1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces)
3/4 cups (6 fluid ounces)

2.6 ounces
6.3 ounces

74 grams
180 grams
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon . .
cake flour (see note) 3/4 cup
(sifted into the cup and leveled off) 2.6 ounces 75 grams
bleached all-purpose flour 2/3 cup
(sifted into the cup and leveled off) 2.6 ounces 75 grams
superfine sugar 1 1/2 cups 10.5 ounces 300 grams
salt 1/4 teaspoon . .
baking powder 2 teaspoons . .
baking soda 1 teaspoon . .
Prepare the Pans
Two 9 by 2-inch cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, and topped with parchment rounds. (Leave the sides uncoated to prevent the tops of the cakes from shrinking inward.)
Preheat the Oven
20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC.
Mix the Cocoa And Liquid Ingredients
In the bowl of a stand mixer, by hand, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). To speed cooling, place it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.
Add the oil and yolks to the mixer bowl. Attach the whisk beater, and starting on low speed gradually raise the speed to medium. Beat about 1 minute or until it is smooth and shiny, and resembles a buttercream. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.
Mix in the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and then sift them. Add half of this mixture to the chocolate mixture. Start beating on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for one minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick. On low speed, add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. The batter will now be like a thick soup.
Bake the Cakes
Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. They will be about one-quarter full. During baking the batter will rise almost to the top of the pans and a little higher in the middle. They will start to lower just before the end of baking.
To prevent collapse of the delicate foam structure while still hot the cakes must be unmolded as soon as they have baked. Have ready a small metal spatula and wire cooling racks coated with cooking spray.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until the cakes spring back when pressed light in the center and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool and Unmold the Cakes
Remove the cakes from the oven but leave the oven on to toast the pecans.
Immediately run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto the wire racks. Remove the parchment and immediately reinvert them onto racks to cool top-sides-up.
Classic German Chocolate Cake Filling
Makes: almost 3 cups/27 ounces/670 grams
pecan pieces (medium-coarse) 1 cup 4 ounces 114 grams
sweetened condensed milk, 1 can 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons
(9.5 fluid ounces) 14 ounces 400 grams
about 3 large egg yolks 3 1/2 tablespoons
(1.7 fluid ounces) 2 ounces 56 grams
unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened 8 tablespoons
(1 stick) 4 ounces 113 grams
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon . .
Baker's Angel Flake Coconut or Mounds 1 3/4 cups 4.6 ounces 130 grams
Toast the Pecans
Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes to bring out the flavor.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, whisk together the condensed milk, and yolks. Add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, reaching well to the edges and bottom. As soon as it starts to simmer, lower the heat or remove the pan from the heat occasionally to keep it from cooking too fast or burning. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened enough to pool slightly on the surface before disappearing (about 175ºF/79ºC). It still will be pourable.
Stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans, and continue cooking on medium heat for one minute. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl (it will become tan and slightly translucent). Cover it with a towel, and allow it to cool to room temperature or just barely warm, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. (It will take about 3 hours at room temperature but will reach spreading consistency faster if refrigerated or stirred over ice water for 5 minutes.) The filling thickens as it cools and if refrigerated for more than 2 hours will need to be softened over hot water or for a few seconds in the microwave.
Compose the Cake
Set the cake on a cardboard round or serving plate and slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean if using the optional ganache frosting and the plate.
Top the first layer with half of the filling (it will be about 1/4 inch thick). Place the second layer on top and press down on it, allowing a little of the filling to ooze out the sides. Frost the top layer with the remaining filling, spreading right up to the edge so that a little oozes luxuriously over the side but leave the rest of the sides bare.
If using the paper strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake.
Cover the cake with a cake dome to keep the sides from drying or frost the sides with a half recipe of dark ganache (page 00) before putting the filling on top. For an extra glossy and smooth appearance, refrigerate the cake to set the ganache and then run a metal spatula, first rinsed with hot water around the sides.
This cake has essentially the same ratio of ingredients as a layer cake but about double the egg and less baking powder. Cake flour results in more tenderness and the all-purpose flour offers more moist fudginess so I like to use a combination of the two. Alternatively, use a total of 1 1/2 cups/5.3 ounces/150 grams of all-purpose flour.
If you only have evaporated milk, use one 12 fluid ounce can (13.2 ounces/372 grams) and add 3/4 cup (5.3 ounces/150 grams) sugar. It will take about 25 minutes to reach the proper consistency. This will result in slightly more caramelization.

BE SURE TO WATCH HERE for news about how you too can bake your way through Rose's Heavenly Cakes!


Amy said...

I've been reading breakbasketcase for a long time, and heavenlycakeplace since you began. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy them both. I look forward to every time you write a blog entry!

evil cake lady said...

BBC, I had a similar experience with Rose's recipe for The Goop. I wasn't a big fan of The Goop, then I tried Rose's, then I considered eating it all without cake, then I repented and frosted. (But I ate the leftover 1/2 cup out of the bowl!)
Good to see you post again, I was missing your blog.

doughadear said...

I love your thorough explanation of this cake and the tidbit about German Chocolate and the cake, well, the photo speaks for itself.

Julie said...

Marie, loved the write-up, especially the part about how German choc cake got its name! So nice to have you back posting.

Melinda said...

The chocolate cake looks wonderful.
I like a proper deep chocolate cake, not that insipid a touch of chocolate cake I remember in German Chocolate cakes. I approve wholeheartedly!
The goop looks really good too. You did a swell job on this cake. Was this one of your 'hard cakes', or are you over that scared of cakes phase?
I think you are, Blanche!

hector said...

Oh Marie, you definitely have a writing style we LOVE!!!!!! most resourceful, useful, and best of all: real.

i am planning to bake thru the book, too, and perhaps write Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Hector!

Anonymous said...

I hope I can do as good a job of making these cakes as you have done, Marie! They have all looked mouth-watering so far and I am eagerly awaiting delivery of my book. Jeannette

Marie said...

Thank you!

I'll be very curious to see how you like this version of the cake. Have I been gone that long? It was only one little weekend in Detroit.

Jim took a lot of pictures of the cake, and was disappointed in how most of them turned out, but I think at least one of them shows its mouth-watering potential.

Hmmm. Maybe I've been gone longer than I thought.

I'm with you. What's the point of insipid chocolate? This cake is easy-peasy (to quote a certain person). I still have a list of about 10 cakes that make me break into a sweat when I think about them. They'll probably be the last ones I make. If you come to Minnesota, you can help me.

Oh, it's real all right. The only thing that scared me about this cake is that Woody told me it was idiot-proof. I thought that was a sure harbinger of doom, but it actually was idiot-proof.

You should be getting it soon. I'm excited for you to be able to start baking from it.

jini said...

well, if you and melinda bake this cake together i want to be the first to volunteer as taster. :)
i have always loved the insipid german chocolate cakes, but this one sounds even better. all that yummy goop surrounding a very chocolatey cake sounds lovely.

Marie said...

I would have loved to have a panel of people who loved the original German chocolate cake just the way it is, and see how those people rate this version. I'm sure there would be some people who'd say the original is the way to go, but I consider this the new and improved version.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh another good looking cake! I agree with the other commenters...I like traditional German chocolate cake well enough (because, hello, chocolate and coconut), but I never liked that pale brown-gray color (is that taupe?) of the cake. I thought "German chocolate" was synonymous with that unappetizing shade. Of course, now I know better and am happy to learn that the people of Germany don't suffer with unattractive chocolate.

Thanks for including the weights in the recipe. I find I am baking more and more by weight, and doing the conversions by hand can get tiresome. Oh, and thanks for all the great pictures Jim; illustrating the intermediate steps is really helpful for me.

Oh, and this faithful reader would never "I told you so" about the second helping, especially when you were simply trying to save your friends from the bitter disappointment of a scorched chocolate cake. Nearly noble, I would say...

(hope your oral argument went well)

Chris in RI

Marie said...

I was in Austria, and their chocolate was quite attractive--it probably is in Germany, too, and I'm glad that you're concerned about the aesthetic state of the chocolate-loving Germans.
I'm also glad that you realize how selfless I was in breaking my one-piece vow.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

I tried rose's German Chocolate Baby Grand cupcakes (same cake base as this recipe)... they were absolutely delish. Very moist. Nice and dark. Really good!

jocakegirl said...

I may be going at this backwards, but please bare with me. I'm new to blogging, and finally feel like a 'girl that belongs', after finding this place. AndI don't feel like that nerdy kid, who is always reading a! Thanks for any comments as to how to comment, and be patient while I set up my blog, please? At 12 I taught myself to bake, and I've been covered with flour, and/or sugar the rest of my life!

Marie said...

Do you mean you'd like to join the bake-through? I'd love to have you. Just let me know your blog address as soon as you set one up, and I'll add you to the list.