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Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

Chef Donald Wressell developed this cake recipe two decades ago when he was asked by his former boss to create the quintessential chocolate layer cake--"a cake like the one my mother used to make." Chef Donald made every kind of chocolate cake to try to find that perfect recipe but none were right. It wasn't until his former boss brought in the cake his mother used to make that Chef Donald knew what he wanted and Grandma's Chocolate Cake was born. This cake is rich, moist, and delicious--the kind of chocolate cake you dream about when you're pouring yourself a glass of milk. 

Yield: One 8" round double-layer cake; serves 8-12
Working Time: 50 minutes
This recipe contains: Eggs, Gluten, Dairy


Grandma's Chocolate Cake 

All purpose Flour  252 grams (1 3/4 cup + 1TB) 

Sugar 357 grams (1 1/2 cup + 4TB) 

Salt 6.3 grams (1 1/4 tsp) 

Baking soda 13.65 grams (1 TB) 

Water 214 grams (7/8 cup) 

Guittard Cocoa Rouge 53 grams (1/3 cup + 2 TB) 

Buttermilk 214 grams (7/8 cup) 

Vegetable oil 154 grams (1/2 cup + 2 TB) 

Whole large eggs 107 grams (2 each) 

Vanilla extract  6.3 grams (1 tsp) 


64% Ganache 

Collection Etienne Chocolate Baking Bars Semisweet 64%, chopped 340 grams (2-6oz packaged or 6-2 oz bars) 

35% cream or heavy whipping cream 300 grams (1 1/4 cup)

Invert sugar or light corn syrup 40 grams (2 TB)

Unsalted butter, softened 85 grams (3 oz or 6 TB)


White Chocolate Buttercream 

Pasteurized egg whites 125 grams (1/2 cup)

Sugar 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 TB)

Salt pinch

Vanilla extract 1/4 tsp

Unsalted butter, softened 340 grams (12 ounces or 3 sticks)

Collection Etienne 31% White Chocolate wafers 115 grams (3/4 cup before melting)


Grandma's Chocolate Cake 

1) Bring water to a boil, turn off heat and add cocoa powder, stir well, then set aside to cool.

2) Put the dry ingredients in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix until well incorporated. About 1 minute.

3) Add buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla all at once to the dry while mixing until all dry ingredients are hydrated. Scrape well. Then mix for 2 minutes. Scrape well.

4) Add the cocoa/water mixture. Scrape. Mix to combine about 30 seconds

5) Preheat oven to 350°F

6) Divide batter into two (2) 8” round buttered and papered cake pans. Let the cake batter rest for 30 minutes before baking.

7) Place the cake pans in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

8) Allow cakes to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until completely cold. About 1 hour.

Chef Wressell’s tips:

1) Letting the cake batter rest for 30 minutes before baking allows the leavening to settle and prevents the fast rise and then sinking of the center of the cake.

2) Line a sheet tray with parchment and sprinkle with granulated sugar before inverting the cooled cake layers and placing in the refrigerator. The sugar prevents the cake from sticking to the parchment.


64% Ganache

1) Boil cream with the corn syrup

2) Pour cream into a bowl with the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes.

3) Stir with a rubber spatula to create an emulsion.

4) Add the butter and stir.

5) Pour chocolate into a shallow flat glass baking dish.

6) Allow ganache to set at room temperature for 1 hour or until it is spreadable.

7) Ganache can be made the day before. Cover the ganache if this is done.


White Chocolate Buttercream

1) Create a Swiss meringue by placing the sugar, salt and egg whites in large metal mixer bowl set over simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very thin and warm, about 115°F.

2) Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on high speed in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Continue beating on low speed until cool, about 10 minutes.

3) Add small pieces of the cool, softened butter on low speed. Gradually whisk in the melted and cooled white chocolate.

4) Continue to whip on medium until buttercream is smooth and shiny.


Cake Assembly

1) Using a serrated knife, level the tops of both cakes.

2) Cut both cakes in half horizontally, creating 2 layers for a total of four layers.

3) Place one layer of cake on a cardboard circle.

4) Put 1/3 of the ganache on the cake and spread uniformly to coat

5) Carefully place second cake layer on the ganache and repeat until you have

four layers of cake sandwiched with three layers of ganache.

6) Chill cake for 30 minutes.

7) Apply a “crumb coat” of white chocolate buttercream to the assembled cake.

8) Chill for 15 minutes.

9) Apply a finish coat of white chocolate buttercream.