The cold, grey, post-holiday days can definitely take a toll on my mood, and there are plenty of moments where I wish it was 70 degrees and I was wearing shorts instead of five thousand layers. But at the same time, there are so many things to celebrate in the next couple of months, and with it comes baked goods! I'll be stepping up my cake game, and hopefully throwing in a few other sweets. While baking is a great stress relief no matter what time of the year, it's even more special when I'm baking for a friend, a group of loved ones, or my siblings. I'm dying to tell you what I have planned, but I'll keep it a surprise for now. All I can say is be prepared for a lot of cake and a lot of sappy stories.
Last weekend was one of the best weekends because we wrapped up exams and had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief. I did grown up things like clean the bathroom and not-so-grown-up things like jump on trampolines. I got to bake in the apartment without feeling rushed and see faces I've missed after being in Muncie for a couple of months. Cassie decided to host a pasta night at our place - like a badass she whipped out the pasta press and made her own noodles and pita chips, and we took my broken pizza stone and made it into a fancy cheese plate. Bottles of wine were opened, too much cheese was consumed, plenty of pasta (both homemade and store-bought... we ran out of the fresh stuff) was shared. I food coma-d early and passed out to an episode of 30 Rock.
So what do we do with extra wine in the apartment of two small Asian girls who barely drink? Well, I told you there would be plenty of cake on the blog this year. Well here's another one, and it's pretty much captures a lot of "spirit" of Valentine's Day I suppose - dark chocolate, red wine, and even the pink tinge of the frosting. The red wine gives an earthy, spicy flavor and the whole thing is a beautifully dense (but not too dense) cake perfect for celebrating, Valentine's Day or not.
Happy Saturday, go Peyton Manning, and do something silly this weekend for kicks!
For the cake (makes a 2 layer 8-inch cake, adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cup red wine, I used a cabernet sauvignon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting (adapted from All Recipes)
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam
- 4-5 cups confectioner's sugar
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 8-inch pans with parchment paper and grease with butter or cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs until combined. Add the red wine and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour-cocoa mixture and mix until just combined - try not to overmix.
- Distribute the batter between the cake pans and put in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Remove the cakes and let cool completely on the cooling rack.
For the frosting and cake assembly
- Beat the butter with the vanilla extract, salt, and blackberry jam until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioner's sugar (I would do it in 2 go's to prevent a cloud of sugar going everywhere) and beat until fluffy.
- Frost the cakes as you'd like: for me, I used blackberry jam as the filling in between the cakes and decorated it naked style with the blackberry buttercream frosting!
- Enjoy with a glass of wine, some extra chocolates, fancy jazz in the background, and your loved ones.