I brought my mom’s tiny 5-inch cake pan with me on my last visit home. Yep, I don’t buy stuff, I lift them from mommy dearest! Since then, I’ve wanted to make a tiny Thumbelina sized cake in it. It has been so long since I took the time to properly frost a cake. I think my last attempt was almost a year back for Boy’s 4th birthday. This time I have a layer cake in mind for him, more specifically, tiny 5 inch layer cakes. They are perfect for small families, so much easier to work with while frosting and absolutely adorable.
I referred to chocolate cake and frosting recipes from here and here. The original cake recipe should make a two-layer 5-inch cake, but my first layer was sort of ruined. When a recipe tells you to line the cake pan and also grease the sides properly, you just do it. You don’t leave it to chance. The cake is super moist and very delicate, the pan needs proper lining and greasing so that you can unmold the baked cake properly.
The original recipe calls for cake flour. I read somewhere that it was sufficient to replace a cup of cake flour for a cup of all purpose flour minus a tablespoon. It worked, but I feel it would have worked with a straightforward 1:1 substitution as well. Just something to keep in mind any time you see a recipe with cake flour.
I was in the mood to experiment a little this time. I fancied a light orange flavor in my cake, so I added light orange syrup to the batter instead of plain water. I didn’t find much difference in taste once the cake baked, so maybe I should use fresh orange juice next time. I still wanted something to enhance the chocolate flavor and what better than coffee? So I poured a light coffee syrup over the slightly cooled cake. Now that worked quite well and was a real delight in every bite.
The chocolate buttercream recipe I referred to claimed it is the best one ever. And I can tell you, it was absolutely delightful, even though I slightly reduced the amounts of cocoa powder and coffee powder to suit my taste. Yes, the frosting has a subtle coffee flavor as well. Need I say more now?
The recipe below will make two 5-inch cakes and enough frosting to cover the tops of both layers. If you want a fully frosted cake, you might want to increase the amount of frosting by doubling the recipe.
Naked cakes are supposed to be the latest trend in cake design if my Pinterest feed is to be believed. It sure has a rustic charm to it and a chocolate cake looks especially good…umm… naked, or let’s call it semi-iced or semi-frosted.
You will need:
- Cake flour – 3/4 cup (or use all purpose flour – 3/4 cup minus 3/4 tbsp)
- Unsweetened dark cocoa powder – 4 1/2 tbsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
- Baking powder – 1/4 tsp
- Butter – 1/4 cup, softened at room temperature
- Sugar – 3/4 cup
- Egg – 1, large
- Milk – 1/4 cup
- Light orange syrup or orange juice or water – 1/4 cup
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Prepare your cake pan (or pans, if you have two) by lining the bottom with foil or parchment paper and sufficiently greasing and dusting the sides with butter and cocoa powder. (Using flour to dust the sides will leave a white residue on the cake, not desirable for the naked look we’re going for.)
- Whisk the dry ingredients (except sugar) till they are well combined and keep aside. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and orange juice/water and keep aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes. Add egg and beat well for 2 more minutes till nice and fluffy. The cake will benefit from all the air you can incorporate here.
- Now add the flour mixture to the batter alternating with the milk and orange juice/water mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Remember to gently fold in the dry ingredients till just mixed. This will ensure your cake stays soft and moist.
- Divide the batter between two cake pans. Lightly tap the pans on the counter-top to get rid of nasty air bubbles and also even out the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till it passes the toothpick test. (I did not have two cake pans. I covered the leftover batter while the first layer was baked and the pan was sufficiently cooled for the second layer. I am not sure this approach works with every kind of batter in every climate.)
- Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack. To assemble the layers and frost the cake, see ‘Assembling the cake’ below.
You will need:
- Water – 1/4 cup
- Sugar – 1/2 tbsp
- Instant coffee powder or espresso powder – 1-2 tsp (as per taste)
- Heat water with sugar and coffee powder till it is well dissolved. The amount of coffee and sugar can be modified as per your taste.
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
You will need:
- Butter – 1/4 cup, softened at room temperature
- Cocoa powder – 1/4 cup, whisked to remove lumps
- Powdered sugar – 1 cup plus a little extra (always have extra on hand to adjust the consistency)
- Milk – 1-2 teaspoons (as needed)
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Instant coffee powder or espresso powder – 1 tsp (optional)
- Beat butter and cocoa powder together till well combined.
- Add 1/2 cup sugar and a teaspoon of milk and beat well. Add the same amount again, beating all the while till you attain a nice fluffy consistency.
- Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix well.
- Beat the frosting on high for at least 2-3 minutes, adding more powdered sugar or milk to adjust the consistency as you go. I ended up using 1 1/4 cups of sugar in all. The frosting should be fluffy and thick, able to hold its shape if you pick some up on a knife or small spatula.
- Chill the frosting while the cake cools. You can whip it again lightly when it is time to frost.
- I actually used some of the coffee syrup I made earlier in place of milk and coffee powder in the frosting recipe.
- Add more coffee powder for a much more pronounced coffee flavor.
Assembling the cake:
- Leveling: If required, level the cooled cakes by cutting the tops off with a sharp serrated knife. The cakes actually baked pretty level for me with this recipe. But it depends on your cake pan, oven temperature and method of mixing too.
- Coffee Syrup: Pour warm coffee syrup over the cakes and allow them to absorb it for 5-10 minutes. Do this on a wire rack with a plate below to catch the drippings.
- Frosting: For a two-layer cake, place one 5-inch cake on a plate. Add a blob of frosting on top and spread till the edges. I used a blunt table knife to do this. Don’t get any frosting on the actual side of the cake for the semi-frosted look. Place the next cake layer and repeat. Once you have enough frosting on the top, you can use a spoon or knife to create a swirled or messy look. You can also pipe decorations if you have leftover frosting. Another idea is to decorate the cake with fresh berries.
- Alternately, you can decorate two small cakes instead of a two-layer cake.
- Enjoy your beautiful and decadent chocolate cake with a coffee twist!
I hope you try this lovely chocolate cake and the the even lovelier chocolate frosting recipes.
This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks now and I have baked this cake a couple more times since then. The basic chocolate cake recipe is very versatile and I made a pretty version with a delicious vanilla buttercream frosting for our anniversary last week. I will be sharing pictures and other details soon.
Do you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe? Have you seen any semi-frosted cakes lately? What do you think? Love it or hate it? Do share.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
- Skip To My Lou
- Between Naps on the Porch
- Home Stories A To Z
- A Stroll Thru Life
- Cedar Hill Ranch
- Coastal Charm
- Elizabeth & Co
- House On The Way
- Savvy Southern Style
- The NY Melrose Family
- The Turquoise Home
- Living Well Spending Less
- Design Dining and Diapers
- The Shabby Nest
- French Country Cottage
- My Romantic Home
- The Charm of Home
- Thirty Handmade Days
- Crafts a la Mode
- Love of Family and Home
- DIY Show Off
- Nifty Thrifty Things
- By Stephanie Lynn