If you've ever had trouble making a chocolate cake or ganache frosting, or want to avoid common mistakes, this post is for you. Here are frequently asked questions that may be helpful.
Find a good recipe with the right proportions of ingredients and follow it to the letter. Using oil instead of butter and buttermilk (or other cultured dairy products) instead of milk or plain water will produce moist cakes. The most important thing is not to overmix or overbake the cake.
I prefer Dutch-process cocoa powder. It is less bitter and produces a fudgier, darker cake. You can also use regular unsweetened cocoa powder with subtle differences in color and taste.
There are a few reasons why I prefer oil for cakes. Oil does not require creaming or melting. It keeps cakes moist because it is liquid at room temperature, whereas butter is solid. Gluten is less likely to develop because oil does not contain water. Water activates gluten, making cakes hard when overmixed. Cakes made with oil also have a longer shelf life.
Using neutral-flavored oils like canola or other vegetable oils is always a good idea. I also like mild-tasting oils like avocado, olive, and coconut oil.
Most cakes can be kept at room temperature for two days. Cakes and frosting containing fresh fruit, cream cheese like Carrot Sheet Cake, or whipped cream should be refrigerated. When in doubt, always refrigerate. They stay fresh longer, especially when the weather is warm or if your kitchen gets too hot.
Yes. I always make the cake layers several days in advance and freeze them. They stay moist and are easier to frost. When properly wrapped, they can last for two to three months in the freezer. Thaw them overnight in the fridge or let them sit out on the counter for about an hour.
The cake should be completely cooled before frosting. You can also freeze them to avoid crumbling. Crumb coating or covering the cake with a thin layer of icing traps loose crumbs and keeps the cake moist.
If your cake is crumbly, let the frosting compensate for it by keeping it together.
Avoid making the cake crumbly by accurately measuring the ingredients (especially the flour), use large or extra-large eggs to provide enough structure (if the recipe doesn't specify), and allow the cake and frosting to set in the fridge before slicing.
Check that you used the right ingredients and measured them correctly. It can also result from overbaking or incorrect oven temperature. To compensate for the dryness, you can brush the cake layers with simple syrup. Making it is as simple as boiling equal parts of sugar and water.
Underbaking or inaccurate oven temperature could be the cause. Overmixing and too much leavener can cause them to rise too much and collapse. Choosing the right pan size is also important.
Overmixing causes large holes or tunneling (tunnels of air pockets). As gluten develops, it toughens the cake, causing the leavener to get trapped and form tunnels. It may also be caused by too much chemical leavener. If this happens, you can cover the holes and tunnels with frosting.
A classic chocolate ganache is a smooth mixture of chocolate and heavy cream. It can be used as a filling or frosting for cakes, pastries, or confections like truffles. The texture can vary depending on the ratio of chocolate to cream and how it is used. Butter and flavor extracts are sometimes added.
Ganache turns grainy or lumpy when there is too little cream or the cream is not hot enough. The chocolate pieces must be small enough to melt fast and create a smooth texture.
Ganache turns grainy or curdled because there is not enough cream to melt the chocolate. To fix it, place the ganache in a heatproof bowl and warm it over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until smooth and add more cream as needed.
If the proportions of ingredients are off, the ganache won't set properly. Sometimes it takes longer to reach the desired consistency. You can refrigerate it if your kitchen is too warm. Be sure to mix the ganache thoroughly until smooth.
I hope this post can help you avoid mistakes in the future and make the cake right the first time. You should definitely try my recipe for Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting!