I made this cake in January 2010, and since it wasn't "in the oven" I don't know when you all are reading about it. Cookie was going to a potluck and she asked me to bake a cake for her, which I agreed to as long as she promised to do like my mother and tell everyone she baked it. She laughed, agreed, and I lent her Rose's Heavenly Cakes so she could pick out her cake. We were baking the delicious Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake that week but she wanted something more appropriate for a dinner potluck. Even though she claimed she was undecided, Cookie kept turning back to the photo of the Stud Cake. A couple of days later I showed up at her house with a bag of my favorite baking gear and we got to it.
January 8, 2010
Name of Cake: The Stud
Occasion: Cookie's Potluck
Constituents: One layer chocolate-banana cake frosted with ganache and decorated with many white and semi sweet chocolate chips
The only piece of baking gear I had forgotten at home? My scale! Argh! I warned Cookie that due to the imprecise method of measuring we were forced to use, the cake may end up terrible and she might not want to tell anyone she baked it. She said she was willing to take the risk, and if no one liked it she would tell them she bought it from a bakery. Now that is friendship.
The first thing we did was make the ganache. It is a simple, straightforward kind of ganache, where the dark chocolate is processed until fine, the cream scalded and poured through the feed tube while the food processor emulsifies and smooths everything nicely. In our case, this wasn't what happened. Cookie's food processor refused to work properly, and the chopped chocolate chunks just flew around the bowl instead of getting processed. So we tried the blender--no dice--and decided to simply melt the cream and chocolate together. We did it slowly, in a double boiler, and everything worked out a-ok. Phew!
The cake base is pretty similar to the very delicious Sour Cream Banana Cake in The Cake Bible, with the addition of what I call the cocoa paste. This is merely cocoa powder whisked together with boiling water to form a smooth paste and bring out, as Rose puts it, "mega flavor components." Usually I do this in a glass pyrex bowl with a lid, but as long as the bowl is covered--to prevent the loss of moisture via evaporation--then all is good. (I remember being miffed that my Cake Bible chocolate cakes were always dry, until Rose shared another baker's discovery--that we were all losing moisture by not covering the boiling water as it cooled. The world-wide smacking of palms against foreheads must have been deafening!) Anyway, Cookie was out of plastic wrap and I didn't bring my covered pyrex bowl. In desperation I started hunting around and found a clean jam jar with the lid! I decided to forgo the whisking of the chocolate and the boiling water, and just shook the jar furiously until I guessed everything was all mixed up nicely.
The rest of the cake assembly, mixing, and baking went smoothly.
After I frosted the cake, Cookie got to the task of studding the ganache with chocolate chips. She decided to do a combination of white and semi sweet chips, which I think came out nicely.
She was a little dismayed that the chips were different sizes and that there were gaps, but I think in the end she was pleased with the general appearance.
I begged her to squirrel away a piece from the potluck so that I could try it, which she did. (Again, now that is friendship!) I found it to be a perfect melding of chocolate and banana. The crumb was moist; even after several days. I wasn't a fan of the chocolate chips; I found they moved this dessert out of the not-too-sweet category into way too sweet. Perhaps a dark chocolate chip would be better?
This is one of those cakes that I loved photographing.