Chocolate Cake 101
What makes a great chocolate cake recipe? Start with good ingredients (yes, that means a lot of chocolate), add the right equipment, and understand core techniques.
Here are four ways that a good cake can turn bad—and how to prevent them.
Here's an easy way to determine if your chocolate cake has reached the desired doneness.
It's an old kitchen maxim: Don't remove a cake from the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs attached. Many of us in the test kitchen have followed this directive for years, but recently we've discovered that finding a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick (not raw batter, mind you) isn't such a bad thing. In fact, a few crumbs can be the sign of a moist and tender cake. That's because residual heat continues to bake the cake once it is removed from the oven. If you wait until a toothpick comes out perfectly clean, the cake may be dry and crumbly by the time it cools.
Our "few crumbs attached" maxim is especially apt when baking low-fat cakes such as our Reduced-Fat Chocolate Sheet Cake. Without a healthy dose of fat to keep it moist, this cake will become chokingly dry if overbaked. In general, we think it's best to check all cakes a few minutes before the earliest baking time recommended in the recipe. You can always test the cake again if it's not done, but once a cake is overbaked there's no going back.
To determine whether a cake is done, insert a toothpick into the center and look for just a few moist crumbs to adhere. Raw batter means the cake needs more time. If the toothpick is completely clean, the cake may have overbaked.
Keys to the Perfect Layer Cake
Here are a few rules to thumbs to keep in mind when baking a layer cake.
How to Frost a Layer Cake on a Serving Platter
Follow these guidelines for a perfectly frosted cake, everytime.
Twelve Steps to Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake
Most chocolate cake recipes follow this basic sequence of steps.