Cookbook: “Layered” by Tessa Huff Photo by: I think Tessa Huff. It was taken out of the cookbook because I forgot to take one. Buy Layered by Tessa Huff on Amazon
Yes, this one goes all the way back to December where it “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, every creature was stirring to finish that damn cake and get out of that house!”
First, I love this stunning cookbook even though many of the recipes seem a little difficult. At least for this beginner.
So you can blame it on the somewhat complicated recipe, or the somewhat limited workspace, or the inept baker. All in all, I think the Mimosas might have been the real culprit in what I like to call the Christmas Eve cake debacle.
Let me paint the picture for you. It was noon on Christmas Eve and two out of three daughters with one boyfriend in tow, came to my house to help make a Chocolate Pomegranate Cake. I don’t know. It looked festive in the picture and since said boyfriend’s parents were bringing the apple pie for Christmas dessert I thought adding a cake to the mix would be a nice touch. Besides, wouldn’t baking be a nice way to spend Christmas Eve day together? We rarely get the opportunity to be in the same place at the same time and it sounded like a fun project. It was. Until it wasn’t.
Little did I know that what I anticipated to take a couple of hours, turned into a six-hour-plus ordeal with four people desperately trying to finish one cake in time to make it to our 6:45 dinner reservation! Let me give you a visual. I went to a very classy restaurant that evening in jeans, no make-up, and flour on my sleeve. No time. No shame. Didn’t care.
It was a combination of many things I suppose. It didn’t help that I have a teeny tiny kitchen with total available counter space the size of a casserole dish. I won’t name names, but midway through daughter #3 poured the cream on top of the chocolate (a no-no) before heating the cream for the ganache, therefore, off to the store for more chocolate. After I made the pomegranate molasses, and due to the lack of counter space, I set the concoction on my stove and promptly spilled it, shedding a little tear as I watched it seep into every little burner crevice it could find. There was a mini melt-down halfway through when daughter #2 got up upset because I dropped a knife on the floor, wiped it off and used it without washing it with water because she was in my way of the sink and I didn’t have time for the tiny details. Besides, hasn’t she heard of the 3-second rule?
The tension in my very small kitchen (and getting smaller by the second) is starting to rise when sometime in the fourth or fifth hour Mom #1 (me) spent 20 minutes trying to figure out why my mixer suddenly had a mind of its own and wouldn’t turn on – no matter what I tried. With the clock ticking and the cooking gods working against me, I was quickly approaching a major mom meltdown. Is there any alcohol left?
My panic resulted in daughter #2 and boyfriend rushing to my rescue. With the three of us hovering over the uncooperative mixer frantically trying to figure out what the heck went wrong, and why now, daughter #3 nonchalantly strolls in, walks over and holds up the plug that is connected to nothing but air and the smell of desperation. See. It was the Mimosas.
In the end, while there were some tense moments, it all worked out. We made it to dinner on time, had a nice evening and I didn’t even mind there was not enough ganache to put on each layer, the icing fell off the cake or that I had flour on my sleeve throughout my fancy evening out.
Although we certainly missed her, I think our saving grace was that daughter #1 was home…180 miles to the west.
Enjoy and please let me know if you have tried this cake!
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
This is a delicious cake and I plan on making it again when I I have all the time in the world and can relax during the process.
- Butter or nonstick cooking spray for the pans
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups hot strong-brewed coffee
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- Step 2 Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- Step 3 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the oil and sugars together on medium speed for minutes. With the mixer on, add the vanilla and almond extracts, then the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
- Step 4 Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee. Mix on medium-low for no more than 30 seconds, or until combined.
- Step 5 Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Step 1 Combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to about 3/4 cup and is thick and syrupy. Remove it from the heat and let it cool before using.
Pomegranate Cheesecake Filling
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 large recipe Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (below)
- 3 tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
- Step 1 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth.
- Step 2 Add 2 cups of the buttercream and 3 tablespoons of the pomegranate molasses and mix until combined.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Buttercream may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw frozen buttercream in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before remixing.
- 1 cup large egg whites
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Step 1 Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
- Step 2 Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160F on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Once hot, carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
- Step 3 With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap ut the whisk attachment for the paddle.
- Step 4 With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Ganache may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in the microwave in short intervals, no more than 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until it reaches the desired consistency. Or it may be gently reheated in the top portion of a double boiler.
- 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped dark chocolate (60 to 85% cacao)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Step 1 Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside
- Step 2 Pour the cream into a saucepan and slowly bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once the cream begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate.
- Step 3 Let stand for about 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth.
- Step 4 Depending on the purpose of the ganache (glaze, filling, or frosting), let it cool until it reaches the desired consistency. For glazes, the ganache should be in a liquid state but not hot. For fillings and frostings, the ganache should be cooled and thickened, but not solid. It should be spreadable but not runny.
Once the cakes have completely cooled, halve them horizontally with a long serrated knife to create four even layers. Level the cakes and choose which layer will be at the bottom. Generously brush each layer with pomegranate molasses. Place the bottom layer on a serving dish. Spread on 1/3 cup of the ganache with an offset spatula. Top with 2/3 cup of the cheesecake filling and spread until smooth. Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat with the ganache and cheesecake filling, finishing with the final layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if using.