Thursday, June 10, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

When it comes to cake, I am usually more concerned with the frosting than the cake itself. So, when a cake's signature frosting is a combination of brown sugar, coconut, pecans, and vanilla... I'm pretty much sold. This week I baked a German Chocolate Cake, using a recipe out of my Betty Crocker cookbook, which happens to be the Heart Health Edition. Needless to say, German Chocolate is not one of the heart healthy recipes. But it is delicious.

Whenever I bake a cake, I'm always a little worried about how it will turn out. More often than not, I have problems getting it out of the pan and/or frosting it without tearing it apart. I am a novice baker, after all. However, I had no problems at all with the last cake I made, which was a chocolate cake for my sister's birthday. I used a recipe from Martha Stewart, and it was the first cake I've ever made that turned out perfectly.

Today I learned that the success of that recipe can be attributed to the fact that it calls for greasing and flouring the pans, in addition to lining the bottoms with parchment paper, which apparently is not the same things as wax paper. How did I learn this? The cake I made today crumbled apart.

The recipe I used instructed me to grease the pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. I thought to myself, "Why doesn't it say I should flour the pans?" But I figured that I had better just follow the instructions since I had never tried this recipe before. Well, I don't know why it doesn't say to flour the pans, but it certainly should. I ended up discarding one of the three layers, not only because it was falling apart, but also because I didn't have enough coconut-pecan filling for a three-layer cake. The filling recipe claims otherwise, but it obviously isn't accounting for how much I enjoy coconut, pecans, and brown sugar.

The good news? The cake was delicious! And, of course, that's what matters most. So even though my cake didn't turn out to be very aesthetically pleasing, I consider it a success. I enjoyed ever bite of it, and now I know what does and does not work when it comes to preparing cake pans.

German Chocolate Cake
Prep: 30 min Bake: 40 min Cool: 1 hr 10 min
12 servings

4 oz sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk


1. Heat oven to 350˚F. Grease bottom and sides of three 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper or cooking parchment paper.

2. In 1-quart saucepan, heat chocolate and water over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is completely melted; cool.

3. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In another medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Separate eggs; reserve egg whites. Beat egg yolks, one at a time, into sugar mixture. Beat in chocolate and vanilla on low speed. Beat flour mixture into sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk on low speed, beating just until smooth after each addition.

4. Wash and dry mixer beaters. In small bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff; fold into batter. Pour into pans. Refrigerate batter in third pan if not all pans will fit in oven at one time; bake third pan separately.

5. Bake 8-inch pans 35-40 minutes, 9-inch pans 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Remove waxed paper. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

6. Fill and frost top of cake with Coconut-Pecan Filling and Topping, leaving side of cake unfrosted. Store covered in refrigerator.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Topping
Prep: 10 min Cook: 12 min Cool: 30 min
12 servings, 2 & 3/4 cups filling

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1 & 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped


1. In 2-quart saucepan, stir brown sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and egg yolks until well mixed. Cook over medium heat about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly.

2. Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool about 30 minutes, beating occasionally with spoon, until spreadable. Fills and frosts top of an 8- or 9-inch two- or three-layer cake.


"German Chocolate Cake." Recipe. Betty Crocker Cookbook: Heart Health Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2008. 102.

"Coconut-Pecan Topping and Filling." Recipe. Betty Crocker Cookbook: Heart Health Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2008. 119.

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