It was my birthday this month, so obviously I checked out a library book of cakes so Matthew could make me one. I know. I’m a thoughtful wife. I felt an immediate connection to the melodramatic, hyperbolic, and passionate title Cakes to die for! The Complete Guide for Cake Lovers by Bev Shaffer. I was not disappointed by the generous use of exclamation points (I seriously dare you to check out this book and read through two pages without an exclamation point—good luck!), arbitrary quotation marks (“‘Three Lemons’ Cake,” “with a tea-infused whipped cream that will be the talk of your next ‘tea party,’”), and giddy baking humor (“Light a candle, sing a song, then serve,” “Have a giggle fest and laugh about childish things while you share a slice of this Fluffy Peanut Butter-Frosted Chocolate Cake,”) throughout the book. As a matter of fact, in this book’s honor, every sentence hereafter shall end with an exclamation point! If you find this incredibly annoying, feel free to skip to the de-exclamation-point-ified recipe below!
There was some debate over which cake would be truly to die for if I was indeed selecting my last meal, and after I narrowed it down just by titles to “A Chip Off the Old Whipped-Cream Loaf,” “Momma’s Midnight Macaroon Madness,” “Oh! That Orange Poppy-Seed Cake with Orange Glaze,” and the particularly intimidatingly named “Gad Zukes! Zucchini Cakes with Lemon Glaze,” Matthew rejected them all and selected “Buttermilk Fudge Cake with a Chocolate ‘Gloss’”! Bev describes it as “A deep-down, rich chocolate cake with a chocolate ‘gloss’ that thickens like fudge. Yum!” and the helpful “Slice of Advice From Bev” section advises: “ ‘Gloss’ thickens quickly”! Can we all take a second here to just appreciate the word gloss?! It appeared no fewer than eight times on this two-page spread, six with quotation marks around it! I have said gloss so many times over the weekend that it no longer sounds like an actual word! Gloss gloss gloss gloss gloss gloss!
But enough glossing! I mean gushing! Here is the actual recipe!
Buttermilk Fudge Cake with a Chocolate “Gloss”
(I should note here that this is a two-chef’s hat-level cake. Whether or not the chef hats on the page testify to the number of bakers who died for or in behalf of this cake was not mentioned, but one can only assume!)
1 ¾ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ cup plus 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
⅛ tsp. salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups buttermilk
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9” round cake pans (we used square pans) and cover pan bottoms with a round of parchment paper. Grease the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the white and brown sugars on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended.
Spread batter into prepared pans; quickly and gently smooth the tops.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Cover a pan with a large, lint-free towel-covered plate and invert pan. Remove pan from cake. Peel off parchment and re-invert cake from plate onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cake. Allow to cool completely on wire racks.
For the Chocolate “Gloss”: In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the confectioners’ sugar until very light. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate, beating until glossy and smooth.
Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread with a small amount of the gloss. Top with the other layer and frost the sides and then the top, swirling the gloss.
Let the cake stand for at least 30 minutes before slicing, to allow the layers to set. Serves 8 (but we served 13 just fine, thank you glossy much).