Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Giant Chocolate Birthday Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache and Flowers

For one of the two Birthday Parties last week, I chose to bake a Giant Chocolate Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. This recipe is by Lori Longbotham. I really like her recipes and I have baked quite a few from one of her books called "Luscious Lemon Desserts". 

The birthday girl loves chocolate cake and I love this recipe. Thanks to the addition of buttermilk to the dough, the cake turns out moist every time I make it. It is chocolatey without being overly sweet and I love that it is baked in a large 12 inch round springform pan. I usually decorate this cake with flowers made out of sugar but this time I chose to pick little flowers from the garden - it gave the cake exactly the flowery look it needed to match the rest of the decoration.  

Giant Chocolate Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
(recipe by Lori Longbotham published in Bon Appétit Magazine,  June 2009)

Ingredients for the Cake:
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup plus 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water or hot coffee
2 cups superfine sugar
3 eggs (L)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Ganache:
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
(I used "Le Coppeneur" chocolate)
1/2 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
Flowers (for decoration – optional)

Special Equipment:

 One 12-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (preferably a springform pan)

For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray (or butter the pan with a soft pastry brush). Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with nonstick spray (or butter the paper with a soft pastry brush). Dust the pan with flour, tapping out any excess. Sift 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Sift the cocoa into another medium bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water or coffee over cocoa and whisk to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the butter to the egg mixture and beat until blended. Beat in the cocoa mixture. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat to blend. Then add the dry ingredients and beat on low just until blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 38-45 minutes. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a cooling rack. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made one day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

For the Ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Bring the cream and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Carefully pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the chocolate. Let stand for a minute. Then whisk until melted and smooth. Chill the ganache until it is thickened and spreadable, about one hour.

Carefully invert the cake onto a large cake plate. Gently remove the parchment paper. Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake and allow it to set for about about one hour. 

DO AHEAD: Cake can be made one day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature about one hour before decorating.

Decorate cake with flowers. 

The birthday girl and the guests were happy!



  1. Andrea, Your cake looks beautiful. Love the fresh flowers. Is this ganache the same as the ganache we are making for this week's FFWD tart? It seems about the same and it is drop-dead delicious. I loved that you said you bake many cakes from Lori's "Luscious Lemon Desserts" but there is nothin' lemony about this delicious-looking birthday cake!

    1. Mary, the ganache is quite similar and it is delicious - I like the fact that it is not so cloyingly sweet.

  2. What better decoration in spring than flowers. Your cake looks perfect!

    1. Thank you, Paula - the birthday really liked the look and that is what is always important!

  3. One of my comfort foods is chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and I know that I would really love this. It's so beautiful decorated with the flowers.

    1. Elaine, you know how they always say that you "just have to make this recipe" - well if you do find the time and/or the right occasion, this is my favorite chocolate cake, hands down - it is worth giving it a try!