Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate White-Out Cake

There’s nothing like a minor cake freak-out to make you feel like a jerk.
The situation was thus: I had a fairly busy day scheduled, and everything was running behind. I didn’t get up early enough, so my gym trip ran behind, so I got home later than planned and had only a few minutes to finish assembling and photographing this cake before running off to an appointment and a full afternoon of errands. I was literally rushing around my apartment like crazy, totally frantic, spilling things and making a mess and feeling extremely anxious to get it all done in time.

Somewhere in between dropping a bowl of chocolate cake crumbs on my kitchen floor, staving off hyperventilation, and taking the world’s fastest shower (fact!), I had a glimmer of just how crazy I am sometimes. Crazy, and ungrateful, and totally short-sighted. If the biggest stressor in my day is photographing a cake, made for no occasion in particular, so I could post it on my personal blog in time for a self-imposed deadline, well, I guess life’s not so bad, is it?

Ever lose perspective like that? It’s okay, I do it all the time. Here, have a piece of cake.

This week’s cake was good, but certainly not worth an anxiety attack. Three layers of devil’s food cake sandwiched a fluffy marshmallow frosting. A fourth layer is crumbled and used to coat the sides and top of the cake, unless you’re like me and decide that seems too easy and time-efficient, in which case you should painstakingly smooth out the top of the cake and try drawing several different designs on it and scraping them off, only to finally give up once the frosting is on the verge of disintegration. I’d made this frosting recipe before, with another cake, so I was looking forward to reuniting it with its original mate, the ultra-chocolatey devil’s food cake.
…but. Well…maybe they’re not meant to be together, is all I’m saying. The trouble started when I tried to layer the cake. (I used one 3″ high pan, instead of two smaller ones.) I needed to get four layers out of it, but the chocolate chunks in the batter, and the texture of the cake itself, made it really hard to cut. Helloooo, more unintential crumbs!

And then, once assembled, the cake and frosting combo just didn’t do it for me. The cake was so dense, almost like a brownie, and the frosting was so light. I kept wishing the cake was a little lighter, maybe a chocolate chiffon cake, so the frosting wasn’t so overwhelmed. Or that I’d added some butter to give the frosting some heft. Either way, I got a lot of this squirting action when I tried to eat it:
Waaah-waaaaah. BUT, in keeping with my new philosophy of keeping everything in perspective, I will simply say that everything tasted great, and I am feel extremely blessed to have the free time and resources to make unnecessary baked goods that I later complain about. Life is good!

[Belated props to MacDuff, whose post about grace in small things keeps simmering in the back of my head, makin’ me feel all grateful and stuff on a regular basis. A big virtual slice of cake to you!]

34 Responses to Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate White-Out Cake
  1. Marthe says:

    Love your cake, the decoration on top looks really nice! Too bad you didn’t care for the taste that much….

  2. Danielle says:

    Your cake looks great.
    But I agree the frosting didnt work well with the cake. Myabe a good buttercream frosting. I thought it was good with whipped cream frosting.

  3. Elyse says:

    I think your cake looks great! And your post is a great reminder not to sweat the little things (thanks for reminding me)!

  4. chocolatechic says:

    Gorgeous cake.

    I had a melt down while making the frosting

  5. Cathy says:

    I have a breakdown almost every time I bake. I am going to print out your post and tape it to my Kitchenaid. Thank you! Your cake looks gorgeous!

  6. Maria says:

    Beautiful job on the cake! I hope you can calm down now and relax for a bit:)

  7. MacDuff says:

    Grace in Small Things is such a good thing. It keeps me grounded.

    And I’m surprised this didn’t work for you, but it makes total sense. So weird.

  8. doughmesstic says:

    LOVE the piping! It really makes your running around and panic attack worth it!!

  9. Flourchild says:

    Very pretty cake. I love all the decorations!

  10. Teanna says:

    The cake decoration is absolutely gorgeous, and although you did not love this cake, I hope you were able to relax a moment to enjoy it!!! :)

  11. Robin says:

    Liz, you overachiever. Your cake looks STUNNING.

    I wasn’t crazy about the frosting either, because I’m generally anti-marshmallow. But I could totally do the cake again with a different frosting.

    Thanks for the reminder about grace and perspective. So very important.

  12. Jodie says:

    I agree- I didn’t love the combo. I love the cake, but I’m not a huge fan of the 7-minute type frosting. Yours looks great!

  13. bakingwiththeboys says:

    Well, it looks gorgeous even it wasn’t your fave. I liked it but it was chocolate and marshmallow. Fat chance I wasn’t going to enjoy it.

  14. Engineer Baker says:

    I actually liked how light the frosting was compared to the denseness of the cake – lightened the whole thing up a bit. And yours looks beautiful, even if you weren’t wowed.

  15. AmyRuth says:

    So true. I routinely tell myself how blessed I am to be able to “buy” the ingredients for an unnecessary what? Dessert? Not even a major food group. he he. Generally I try to share with someone I want to show appreciation to for one reason or another. Yes, though at times its crazy getting it all done, it is good to keep things in perspective. Thanks for the reminder and I like your decs on the top of your cake.

  16. sweet-talker says:

    Huh, funny you should have such an extreme reaction. I find baking to be a quiet, calm, almost spiritual event. Really, it’s as though I am taking a magic carpet ride on the clouds of buttercream which I make with easy and absolute joy. Stress? Time? Severe back pain? Feh. I am one with the crumb!

  17. The Food Librarian says:

    Totally agree with you! I was stressing at work today about finishing this cake when I got home…I forgot about the fun of baking! :) Great looking cake!

  18. Ivette says:

    Your cake looks amazingly yummy! Love the decorations! I’m sorry you were in such a hurry to do all this but your came out great!

  19. vibi says:

    After all that hard work, Liz… the results are pretty darn nice!

    I love how you’ve decorated the plate, as well as the cake! Very creative!

  20. Matt's Kitchen says:

    I’m with you on the need for perspective. It’s too easy to lose it, for me at least, amid all of my own busy choices.

    I love the way you presented your cake. The filigree swirls on the cake and on the plate give it such an elegant look!

  21. farah says:

    Well done on a fantastic looking cake, it really is beautiful. I find baking a great way to de-stress but it is very easy getting caught up in it all. I’m glad you enjoyed the cake in the end :)

  22. Julie says:

    Well, I’m sorry it was so much trouble but it looks totally worth it. Squirting action and all. I love the little scrolly things!

  23. Rebecca says:

    THAT’S a rush job? Quit bragging. ;)

  24. n.o.e says:

    It is a pretty cake, but what’s even more beautiful is your reflection. I’ve also been moved by McDuff’s example. I stressed about this cake; but loved it in the end (and 3 days later it’s still delicious). But perspective is the most important thing! Thanks

  25. Kaahl says:

    that looks like it will ship fine. i expect to see it soon.

  26. Lillian says:

    Oh, but it’s so gorgeous!

  27. TeaLady says:

    Actually, I liked the frosting better than the cake. mine was dry, but probably because I baked it a little too long. LOve your top. It is very elegant.

  28. pinkstripes says:

    Your cake looks great. I like the way you decorated it.

  29. Linda says:

    okay, if you can produce that GORGEOUS cake under time constraints and stress, i can’t wait to see your handiwork when you’re relaxed and have time!!

  30. Erin says:

    Your cake looks beautiful!

  31. mike says:

    Wow – that is one nice looking cake! Very creative frosting/decorating technique! You made the boiled frosting look so easy and delicious! Beautiful!

  32. Irene says:

    Just discovered your website and love it! How many other commenters have made the “…and we’re out of cake” joke? :) I love the idea of this cake because it looks like an oreo, but it always seemed when I read the recipe that simple whipped cream stabilized with a little gelatin would be a great frosting for this cake. Or chocolate buttercream. Chocolate buttercream is never bad.

  33. VelezDelights says:

    At least the cake looks great! And it’s really refreshing to see a positive take on recipes that possibly weren’t faves =)

  34. Gretchen Noelle says:

    I really like the design on top. I thought that the plain white looked a bit unfinished. Great job, can’t wait to make mine!

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