a decadent chocolate birthday cake layered with chocolate buttercream
yield: 1 (3-layer) cake
14 oz all-purpose flour
4.5 oz cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
18 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
9 oz granulated sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks (or ¾ lb butter), softened
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp kosher salt
flaky sea salt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 3 (8”) cake pans with butter. Lightly dust the entire surface of each pan with flour and shake off the excess. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the oil, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking until combined.
Distribute the batter evenly into the 3 pans. Bake for 26-30 minutes, or until fully set (a toothpick should come out almost clean with a few crumbs stuck to it).
While the cakes are baking, start the buttercream (below).
Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife around each pan. Flip out the cakes and place them onto a cooling rack. Let fully cool.
Use a serrated knife to even out each cake so that the top is flat.
Add the chocolate to a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Fill a small saucepan with about a ½” of water. Bring the water to a low simmer. Place the mixing bowl over the saucepan (make sure the bowl is not touching the water). Stir the chocolate until melted. Set the bowl aside and let the chocolate cool.
Combine the sugar and egg whites in another stainless-steel mixing bowl. Add more water to the saucepan if needed and place the bowl on top. Whisk the mixture continuously as it heats over the saucepan. The sugar should fully dissolve, and the mixture should reach a temperature of 165°
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a whisk attachment, whisk on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and whisk another minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form (the mixture should stand up on its own).
Turn the speed back to low and slowly add the softened butter, small piece by piece, until it’s all incorporated. Blend in the vanilla.
Add the cooled melted chocolate and mix to fully combine, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Lastly, blend in the salt.
Place the first layer of cake onto a cake stand or large platter. Mound a large portion of buttercream on top. Use an offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Repeat with the remaining layers of cake and buttercream.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with flaky sea salt (optional). Serve the cake at room temperature.