Experiments in Cake

Have I mentioned my affinity for chocolate cake? I have? oh, excellent.

I'm pretty much non-discriminatory when it comes to chocolate cake...Betty Crocker, Pillsbury...frosting from a tub...or everything from scratch. It's all good. However, there is one chocolate cake which holds a special place in my heart. That chocolate cake is made by Zoe's Kitchen. Zoe's Kitchen, for those of you who are unfortunate enough not to have one nearby, is a sorta pseudo-Greek fast-foodish place that specializes in chicken. And it's not bad...not bad at all. BUT, the chocolate cake that they make is a little bit o' heaven.

So, after getting outside to enjoy the nice weather this morning and taking a long walk all around Edwin Warner Park, I came home, cleaned my kitchen, talked to Donna, tried to talk to Bethany, tried to talk to Jennifer and then decided to try to replicate the deliciousness that is Zoe's chocolate cake. Yep. I decided to conduct an experiment in cake. I hunted around online for a bit searching for a recipe that seemed to reflect the qualities of Zoe's cake. I found one that I was comfortable with and after making a few adjustments to the recipe based on a conversation I had with Daniel, I went to work.

It turned out pretty good. Not exactly like Zoe's, which is kinda disappointing...but really quite similar. The cake part didn't turn out as dense as I would've liked. And though the frosting consistency seems about right, the flavor wasn't quite right. Ah well...

Here's the recipe in case anyone wants to amend it or make alternate suggestions:

Chocolate Cake:

2 sticks butter
1/2 C. buttermilk
1 C. hot coffee
2 eggs, beaten
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. While it's melting, make the coffee. When butter is melted and foamy, add the cocoa powder and stir thoroughly. With the heat still on, pour in the hot coffee and stir. Allow mixture to bubble for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, and salt. Stir together. Pour hot butter/cocoa mixture over top and stir together slightly just to cool the chocolate.

Put buttermilk in a small bowl and add the beaten eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Add this mixture to the butter/flour mixture. Stir together well. Pour into buttered and floured 9x13 baking pan (I actually used one a tad smaller...like 9 x 11 maybe). Bake at 325 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting:

1 stick of butter
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 C. powdered sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. When butter is melted and foamy, add the cocoa powder. Stir together and allow to bubble for 30 seconds. Add in the milk, vanilla and corn syrup and stir constantly over low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. With electric beater, beat in the powdered sugar gradually until everything is smooth. Pour the frosting over the warm cake and spread evenly.


boty said...

add 1 oz semi sweet chocolate (melted WITH the butter) and I would try either espresso or flavored coffee...or better yet 1/4 cup coffee/espresso and 3/4 cup hot chocolate. Adding an extra egg yolk wouldn't hurt either. These all would make it more dense. And as gross as it sounds adding pureed prunes (not prune juice Cafra) adds TONS of flavor to chocolate cake...and no not an icky prune flavor.

Gibbarella said...

The cake at Zoe's does not taste like it has coffee in it to me.

Anonymous said...

The frosting on Zoe's cake is the enigma for me. It should be like old-fashioned homemade fudge. I'm sure unsweetened chocolate in blocks is used, but I've not been able to get it quite right. Does anyone have a suggestion how to get that fudgy texture?

Anonymous said...

I heard a trick that they use Zoe's restaurant to make the cake extra moist. After the cake has baked and before putting the icing on, place chopped off plastic straws throught out the cake, then pour on the icing. Pull out the straws, and YUMMY...moist cake.

Anonymous said...

My husband asked the manager at one of the Zoe's how to make the icing and they said it only has four ingredients: cocoa, butter, powder sugar and water - you boil it on the stove. Anyways, hope this helps, they didn't give us proportions. I have tried a few times but it hasn't turned out like theirs yet :-)

Anonymous said...

My husband asked a manager at Zoe's how they make the icing and he said it is just four ingredients: cocoa, powder sugar, butter and water. You boil it on the stove. He didn't give proportions. Hope this helps! I have played around with it a little and it turned out good but not exactly like theirs yet :-)

Caker said...

Zoes cake is very good....Just follow the recipe for the Coca Cola Cake, and do not add pecans and marshmallows. That is the recipe. I have been making it for years.