Baked Sunday Mornings: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, the Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream, is a bit of a Baked recipe re-mix. I have made the chocolate cake component many times before; it is the exact same cake that is used in the Sweet and Salty Cake, the Grasshopper Cake, and the Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. The vanilla buttercream is essentially the same as the filling used in the Chocolate Whoopie Pies (and it's the base for the chocolate filling in the Banana Whoopie Pies).

Although each of this cake's components was already familiar to me, the mile-high chocolate cake is not a typical Baked layer cake. Not only is it six layers instead of the usual two or three, but it is also a tomboy style cake -- meaning that there is frosting between the layers but not covering the sides of the cake.

You bake the chocolate cake into three 8-inch layers and then split each layer in half to get six layers total. This was another one of those times when I was immensely grateful to my cousin Cindy for giving me an Agbay cake leveler last year; I was able to trim all of my layers to exactly the same height.

Because the frosting between the layers is exposed, I wanted it to look as nice as possible -- so I piped it out using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, an idea I took from Miette's tomboy cake recipe. I applied the milk chocolate glaze on top with a light hand, even though that meant I had a lot of it left over; I had seen the photo of this cake on and I thought that cake looked a little messy with so much glaze dripping down the sides.

I gave this cake to my friend Jillian to take with her to a party. I didn't feel the need to actually eat a piece to be able to evaluate it, since I have made the chocolate cake so many times before (and I already knew that I love it!). But I did taste some of the cake trimmings with the vanilla buttercream and glaze, and I thought they were tasty. The only criticism I have was that the buttercream was too buttery for my taste -- it had a nice creamy consistency, but it essentially tasted like vanilla butter.

Jillian was nice enough to send me the above photo that she took at the party after she sliced the cake. She agreed that the frosting was too buttery and said that the chocolate glaze was her favorite part. She also noted that the cake was a bit dry. When she told me that, I immediately realized that this was my fault.

This is not a dry cake -- it bakes up tender and moist, and it was absolutely moist when I split the cakes and sampled the trimmings. But after I assembled the cake, I kept it in the fridge overnight, and I simply left it on my cake decorating turntable, uncovered. This is what I always do when I make cakes (which is almost always the night before), and it usually doesn't cause a problem. But then again, I am not usually making a tomboy-style cake where the sides are exposed. I realized that leaving this cake in the fridge overnight with the sides exposed allowed the cake to dry out. I should have covered it with a dome.

However, this is still an incredibly impressive dessert and I'm informed it was a hit at the party. As far as I'm concerned, this chocolate cake is fantastic -- any way you slice it!

Recipe: "Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Anonymous said…
I love it when cakes have exposed sides, especially when there is a color and/or texture contrast. I especially love the look of Momofuku Milk Bar's cakes. Did not know it was called tomboy, though! :)
Louise said…
I think I'd need to call it something other than "Mile-High" and make it in 9-in pans. My husband loves cakes with exposed sides as there's less frosting. And, that was a nice gift to your friend.
Bourbonnatrix said…
I LOVE the look of your cake! I only thought of piping on a buttercream border like you did AFTER I finished assembling it, but I think that's absolutely the way to go. Seriously, your cake looks perfect!
Perfection of chocolate! Beautifully done.
Susan said…
Spectacular! I'm convinced, I need a cake leveler. Just perfect.
Your cake looks fantastic. This is really a good chocolate cake. I will have to try it again and remember not to frost the top, so that I can try that looks so beautiful.
Anonymous said…
GORGEOUS job-- it's perfect! I think you used just the right amount of ganache, and I agree that using all of it would have been too messy. Great minds think alike-- I too was inspired by the Tomboy Cake. Miette is one of my favorite local bakeries! :)