A tender chocolate cake with a mild chocolate flavor. Topped here with a milk chocolate brown butter buttercream with an intensity that pairs beautifully with the gentle chocolate cake.
A tender chocolate cake with a mild chocolate flavor, one that is sweet and light. Topped here with a milk chocolate brown butter buttercream with an intensity that pairs beautifully with the gentle chocolate cake.
This is baking terminology for a cake that is baked in a square pan and served with a layer of buttercream solely on top. Think, half of a sheet pan cake. As opposed to a layer cake which is well, layered, and has buttercream between the layers so that each slice has 2-3 layers of buttercream and cake.
Snacking style is also incidentally, small batch simply because of the size. Okay, it depends on your definition of small batch. If you are serving two people you probably want a cake that is loaf size (yes you can do that here, just halve everything) but a cake made in an 8×8” or brownie pan will serve a small group of 4-6 people.
Most popular chocolate cake recipes (and certainly most of mine) use dutch process cocoa which needs only baking powder for leavening and produces a dark chocolate taste, richer and less acidic. It’s wonderful if you want a rich, dark chocolate taste. If however you want something more mild, natural cocoa should be what you reach for.
I developed this recipe using this organic cocoa which is naturally processed, theirs is an organic variety and while it brings a chocolate forward taste into any dishes it’s used for, it’s more mild than dutch and allows other flavors to shine alongside it. I loved it paired with my milk chocolate brown butter buttercream which is an intense one, this cake carries it particularly well so that a slice is never too overwhelming.
Can I make this recipe as a layer cake?
Yes, I would double the recipe and bake it in three 6” round cake pans, bake them at 325 F for 30-40 minutes. If you are making the milk chocolate brown butter buttercream you’ll want it on the stiffer side so utilize the notes in that recipe page.
Can I make this recipe in a sheet pan (13×9”)?
Yes! Double the recipe. Bake temperature can stay the same as the recipe below but you’ll want to check for doneness with a cake tester (or use your finger to carefully press the center of the cake, if it springs back – it’s done).
Can I use a cocoa that is not natural?
Yes and no. The recipe will still work but you won’t really have a milk chocolate cake on your hands; it will taste more like a dark chocolate.
What other buttercream pairings would you suggest?
If you don’t want to go the brown butter route, try this milk chocolate buttercream recipe (just the milk chocolate part, you might want to double it) or try this mascarpone chocolate buttercream. Alternatively, a vanilla buttercream will do just fine (there’s also a ton of variations on that recipe).
What can I use besides kefir or buttermilk?
A common suggestion is to use a combination of milk and vinegar/lemon juice. While this may help you get to the right pH level needed to interact with the baking soda, you will lose out on the extra creaminess that comes from kefir & buttermilk (especially the full fat varieties) and so I never suggest milk/acid as a substitute. If you must, thin out some greek yogurt to use in the cake.
How should I store this cake?
For a long period at room temperature the buttercream may go soft. If you are leaving it overnight, I’d suggest the fridge and in an airtight container.
Brown Butter Milk Chocolate Buttercream, recipe here (you can halve the recipe to make a thinner layer of buttercream, mine was thick)
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