My boss has a tradition of buying or making the employees in her department whatever kind of cake they want for their birthday. She’s pretty awesome that way. So the first year I worked for her, I asked her what her favorite cake was, and she replied, “German Chocolate Cake.”
The first thing I see in my mind when someone says “German Chocolate Cake” is the green box of Baker’s German’s Chocolate, as seen on the shelf in the baking aisle of every supermarket in the United States. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what else people use German’s Chocolate for. I can’t imagine eating it on its own as it’s rather chalky. But sure enough, that image popped up in my head, and off I went to bake my boss’ birthday cake.
I have made this cake for four of her birthdays. The first two years I made the cake, I used the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. This might make people scratch their heads. Why on earth, one would wonder, would I use a recipe from a book when the recipe for Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake is clearly on the chocolate’s wrapper? The answer is…I have no idea. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I had this theory that The Joy of Cooking would have improved the recipe. (This is a ridiculous theory considering wrapper recipes are pretty much tried and true.) Besides, that recipe had sour cream in it. Everything that has sour cream in it is better, isn’t it?
Oh, not so.
My edition of The Joy of Cooking took a walk two years ago, which is odd because it’s a pretty tough thing to lose considering its binding and size. It even has a ribbon to hold your page (a feature I think all cookbooks should have – two ribbons would be even better). So, in desperation, I turned to The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
This now might make people seriously wonder about my sanity. Why, one would ask, would you use a recipe from a book, again, when the recipe for Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake is Right. There. On. The. Wrapper? The answer is…I have no idea. But let me tell you, when we ate that cake it was so light, so delicately flavored, and so fulfilling, that I was actually glad to have lost The Joy of Cooking. I vowed that the Fanny Farmer recipe would be the only recipe I’d use for German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake from that time forward!
The joke is on me.
In preparing to write this, I went to Kraft’s website, wanting to relay the story about how what people call “German Chocolate Cake” is in actuality “German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake,” because the woman who submitted the recipe in the 1950’s to a newspaper used General Food’s (later, Kraft’s) Baker’s German’s chocolate brand. This cake has nothing to do with Germany. But you can read all about that here at Wikipedia, now that I’m thoroughly ashamed and this has turned into a different post altogether.
The joke’s-on-me part is that I just discovered that the recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is the same recipe as Kraft’s Original Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate Cake on Kraft’s site. Why Fannie Farmer doesn’t mention this, I don’t know, but there you have it. I’ve been laughing at myself the last 15 minutes.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (13th edition) incorrectly titles the recipe “German Sweet Chocolate Cake,” and leaves out a very important step: beating the egg whites to stiff peaks!
So here, with instructions adapted from both Fannie Farmer and Kraft Foods, Inc., is the recipe for the very delicious German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake. I’d say it’s a grownup style of cake. The chocolate is very subtle, much like the cocoa flavor in Red Velvet Cake. It’s not overly chocolate-forward, and it’s very balanced with the flavor of the classic coconut-pecan frosting, which I’ve given the Fannie Farmer version of here. This is perfect with a cup of coffee.
Ingredients (makes 16 servings):
– 4 ounces (one package) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
– 1/2 cup boiling water
– 1 cup butter
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs, separated
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 1/4 cups cake flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 1 recipe Coconut-Pecan Frosting (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cover the bottoms of three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and spray the pans with baking spray (alternatively, grease the sides of the pans with butter). Set aside.
2. Break the chocolate into pieces in a glass bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the chocolate and stir to melt all the chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla, then the chocolate.
4. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda and salt.
5. To the chocolate mixture, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, alternating between the two, beating after each addition until smooth. Set aside.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Combine until just mixed – not too much or else the eggs will deflate. You should have a fairly airy batter.
7. Pour the batter into the three separate pans equally. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out with only a couple of crumbs. Cool in the pans for five to ten minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
8. When cool, frost only the tops (not the sides) of each layer with Coconut-Pecan Frosting. Enjoy!
Frosting Ingredients (frosts two layers and the top of one 9-inch round German’s Chocolate Cake, recipe above):
– 1 cup evaporated milk
– 1 cup sugar
– 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1 1/3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut
– 1 cup chopped pecans
1. In a saucepan, mix the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla, stirring over medium heat until thickened, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Remove milk mixture and immediately stir in the coconut and pecans. Cool until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally. Frost tops of cake layers only.
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