Chocolate Feather Bed

We are having a little heat wave here in Portland--nothing compared to everywhere else in the country--but weather here is normally so mild that Portland panics when it gets too hot or too cold. What can I say? We are all weather wimps. Well, we are rain-toughened, but that's about it. Above 90 and we are all OMG IT IS SO HOT OUT, WE ARE GONNA DIE. Unfortunately this means that I have no appetite and rich chocolate desserts are out of the question. But do I skip this week's cake? Hell to the no. This heat wave won't last forever!

Chocolate Feather Bed

August 14, 2010
Name of Cake: A Whole Lotta Chocolate for Such Hot Weather
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: four layers (2 batches) GF chocolate souffle-like cake layered with either light whipped ganache or stabilized whipped cream

I decided to split my cake in two and try both variations--the regular chocolate on chocolate and the chocolate on whipped cream. I was worried the choc/choc would be just too much.

This was another two-cake weekend as Cookie asked for a potluck dessert and I offered her the upcoming Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache (more on that in three weeks).  (At the time I was feeling greedy and didn't want to give away all of the Feather Bed, as it was one of the cakes I initially bookmarked when I got the book.)  So I prepped for all the cakes Saturday afternoon/evening. I am of the chaotic school of baking/cooking where I do a lot of my prep work as I go. It mostly works, but since it was so hot out and I didn't want to have the oven on for longer than necessary, I prepped everything, down to the teaspoons of vanilla and the separation of the 2 tablespoons of sugar. I wish I had a photo of that, but I didn't take many shots last night--I have a hard time getting a nice night photo.

Anyway once midnight came around the kitchen had cooled down to about 75° F so I reluctantly turned on the oven and got to mixing up the first batch of feather cake.

First, chocolate is melted in a double boiler. I do have a shot of that, mostly because I like my copper bowl:

Chocolate Feather Bed

As it cools to room temperature, egg yolks and sugar are brought to the ribbon stage.

Chocolate Feather Bed

And that's the last process photo I took.

The chocolate is mixed into the egg yolks and it becomes a thick sticky mass. This is set aside while the egg whites are whipped to the stiff peaks stage. The meringue is folded into the chocolate yolk mixture, the resulting batter spread out on a half sheet pan and baked for 16 minutes.

The cake cools in the pan covered with a clean kitchen towel. I needed the pan for the second cake, so after about ten minutes I gingerly slid the cake out and left it to cool on the parchment on a rack. I was worried the cake would fall apart, but it didn't.  Phew!

The second cake actually had a little more volume--I must have done a better job whipping or folding or something.

After both cakes cool, they are stacked on top of each other and chilled in the refrigerator for a bit which makes them easier to handle. During this time Rose suggests making the ganache, but I had misread--even after all the pre-prep!--and had made the ganache first. Oh well.

There are two ways to make the light whipped ganache, and after reading both options, I decided the second method, which was more hands-on, was going to be easier for me. The chocolate is melted in a double boiler on the stove with about a quarter of the cream. Meanwhile the mixing bowl, whisk attachment, and remaining cream are chilled. Once the chocolate is melted it is set aside to cool. The cream gets whipped just until beater marks show, then the chocolate and vanilla are added and the ganache is whipped until it mounds softly. That's it!

Back to the cakes: after they chill for about 30 minutes, the edges are trimmed and each cake is cut in half. These get re-chilled for a maximum of 12 hours. I was tired and it was 2 am, so I decided to finish the cake in the morning. What to do with the ganache? There's no mention of being able to chill it, but I did so anyway.

This morning after letting the ganache come up to room temperature, I stirred it up with a spatula to re-aerate it, sort of. The texture had definitely suffered and looked grainy. I wondered if re-whipping it in the KA would help, but I also thought what I really needed to do was remelt, rechill, and rebeat. So I decided to live with grainy ganache.

It was time to make the stabilized whip cream, which is really quick and easy. Gelatin and powdered sugar are combined and brought to a boil with a bit of cream while the remainder plus the bowl and beaters are chilled. (Sound familiar?) The boiled mix gets cooled down to room temperature, and it looks a little gooey and unappetizing. Not to worry--the rest of the cream gets whipped until beater marks show, then the gooey stuff is poured in and the cream beaten until stiff peaks form. And, that's it.

Chocolate Feather Bed

I cut all the layers in half once more to make two separate cakes. Layering was easy--the ganache wasn't sticky as warned--and just as I was looking for chocolate to make curls the Jellos arrived to pick up the Caramel Ganache Cake. I quickly cut Featherbed Cake for us to sample, and as such I never put the curls on, and probably won't. Eh, it's too hot for chocolate curls!

We all unanimously agreed the whipped cream variation looked more appealing as well as being more to our tastes. The choc/choc version is quite rich, and I thought it would make a good ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream and cherries. Cookie would have liked the choc/choc better if she had a cup of coffee to counter all the richness.

Chocolate Feather Bed

Chocolate Feather Bed

I can't say that I am in love with this cake, but I think that has more to do with the weather than anything else. Nothing that isn't slushy sounds appealing. I wouldn't hesitate to make this again when it isn't so hot, and I bet my gluten free girls Regenia and Annamaria would love it.


  1. Wow..both variations of cake! Both looks equally good and delicious to me! It's hot here too..anyway, it's perpetually hot here in the tropics unless it rains. :D

  2. So dedicated in such heat! The whipped cream do look very appealing.

  3. I believe either version could use with a big scoop of ice cream to cut the sweetness! and to counter the HEAT!!!

    It's funny that it is so hot there--here in Montana it feels like not ready for Fall. I wish it was hot here.

    Love you,

  4. faithy, i really am such a weather wimp that i couldn't even imagine living somewhere where it is perpetually hot!

    lois, yes, i like how the whipped cream contrasts the chocolate cake layers. i like stripes!

    joelf, dude, if it is all fall-like and shit when we get there this weekend i will be so happy. didn't you get enough hot when you were in the DR? can't wait to see you! love, j

  5. Kudos to you for doing both versions!
    Both look great.

  6. Jennifer,
    I think I would really like this cake - it does look wonderfully light.

  7. Jennifer, both variation looked beautiful!

  8. For someone who wasn't feeling like baking in the heat, you managed to pull off 2 versions, and quite well!

    The heat has been oppressive here in VA as well. I've been melting all summer long.


  9. Vicki, thanks!

    Oriana, it is light but its still a little toothsome, which I like. How was Italy?

    Jenn, thank you!

    ButterYum, wow you guys have had a hard weather year, with all the snow and now all the heat! I hope next year is better.

  10. JENNIFERRRRRRR... wow I love how the white whip cream just sets off the cake... looks yummy, I guess I would have done the 2 batter portions and did what you did, but saturday we hit 100 degrees here in florida and like you there was not way in hell I was going to have that on more than I had to. I had to talk myself thru this cake already!

  11. monica, 100 degrees...yuck! i almost skipped out on this cake since it was so hot, but the nights have cooled off so waiting until midnight made it tolerable, and in the morning the kitchen wasn't too bad. i saw that you are thinking of a re-do to try the whipped cream version--i hope you do!

  12. Your cakes look delicious. I don't want to sound braggy, but it has actually been tolerable weather wise here. Lots of people complaining about it being too rainy and cold but not me! A true Oregonian never loses her webs on her feet and the love of cool gorgeous rain.
    My hat goes off to you for baking in the hot kitchen, even if it was after midnight. x

  13. well. texas 103' is pretty hot and enervating - maybe it will break and I will bake soon.
    I love each version of your cake and think it will be hard to choose when I bake it. Thanks for the tips in your post.

  14. Melinda, you lucky duck! It finally cooled down today and I am so happy. You true Oregonian you--I love the webs on your feet image!

    BSA, see, we are weather wimps in Portland. We had a few days of 100+ weather last summer and it was TERRIBLE. Hopefully you can get back to baking before too long!


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