This is adapted from our house chocolate cake recipe at Carlo’s, which is also our devil’s food cake. The buttermilk is the key to its texture, a secret shared with us by Old Man Mike.
Makes two 9-inch cakes, or 24 cupcakes
1 1⁄2 cups cake flour, plus more for flouring the cake pans
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1⁄3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄3 cup melted unsweetened Baker’s chocolate
1⁄2 cup hot water
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
Unsalted butter, for greasing two cake pans (about 2 tablespoons); nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil may be substituted
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Put the flour, sugar, butter, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can put the ingredients in a bowl, and use a hand mixer with the blending attachments, but take extra care to not overmix.) Mix on slow just until the ingredients are blended together, a few seconds, then raise the speed to low-medium and continue to mix until smooth, approximately 1 additional minute.
3. Stop the motor and pour in the chocolate. Mix for 1 minute, then, with the motor running, pour in the hot water. Then add the eggs, 1 egg at a time, adding the next one after the previous one has been absorbed. With the motor still running, pour in the buttermilk. Stop the motor periodically and scrape from the bottom with a rubber spatula to be sure all the ingredients are fully integrated, and return the mixer to low-medium speed. Continue to mix for an additional minute to ensure the eggs are fully absorbed. This will help insure that all the sugar is dissolved and the flour is thoroughly mixed in, which will help produce a luxurious mouthfeel in the final cake. Before baking, be sure the batter is at 70°F to 73°F, or the cake will crown. (If it is too warm, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes; if too cool, let it rest at room temperature.)
4. Grease two 9-inch cake pans (2 inches high) with the butter, and flour them.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and get as much batter as possible out. Bake until the cakes begin to pull from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. The cake should be at room temperature before you remove it from the pan. Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, top with sugar, and turn the cake out onto parchment; the sugar will keep it from sticking. Refrigerate or freeze (see page 208) until ready to decorate.
CAKE BOSS: STORIES AND RECIPES FROM MIA FAMIGLIA, BY BUDDY VALASTRO, COPYRIGHT © 2010 BY DISCOVERY LICENSING, INC., PUBLISHED AT $25.99 BY FREE PRESS, A DIVISION OF SIMON & SCHUSTER, INC., 1230 AVE. OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10020