1 Preheat oven:
Place racks toward centre of oven and heat to 150°C./300°F.
2 Prepare three spring-form pans:
– Non-stick spray, as needed
– Cake flour (bleached), for dusting, as needed
Grease three 23 cm (9”) spring-form or round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment.
Dust the sides with flour, and tap out excess.
3 Prepare the dry mix
620 g Granulated Sugar
420 g Cake Flour (bleached)
130 g Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
15 g Salt
15 g Baking Soda
15 g Baking Powder
11 g Glycerol Monostearate, optional
Whisk all of the above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then sift them into another bowl.
4 Prepare wet mix:
340 g Buttermilk
340 g Canola Oil
150 g Egg
25 g Vanilla Extract
Combine all of the above ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
and mix on low speed until you get a homogeneous, off-white liquid.
5 Combine the wet and dry mixes:
With the stand mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet, one large spoonful at a time.
Mix only until ingredients are just combined.
(Over-mixing results in a tougher cake that does not rise properly.)
6 Boil water:
Slowly add to batter 340 g Water.
Bring the water to a boil.
To prevent evaporation, take it off the heat as soon as it starts to boil. (An electric kettle works nicely here.)
With the mixer running on low, add water in a slow stream.
Pouring slowly will increase the temperature of the batter gradually so the eggs won’t cook.
The final texture will be like thin brownie batter.
7 Fill cake pans:
Use a scale to pour 600 g batter into each of the three spring-form pans.
(You will have a bit of extra batter that is perfect for cupcakes!)
8 Bake cakes:
Set a sheet pan on a lower rack in the oven to catch any batter that drips during baking.
Bake the cakes on the centre rack of the pre-heated oven until they reach a core temperature of 100°C./200°F. – about 40 minutes.
Don’t move the cakes around while they are baking, or they will collapse.
9 Make syrup:
200 g Granulated sugar
100 g Water
50 g Vodka, or other 35% – 40% ABV spirit
While your cakes are baking, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Remove the pan from the heat, and allow it to cool to room temperature.
(We use an ice bath to chill the whole pot very quickly, but you can let it sit on the counter or run a closed pot under cold water.
Just don’t add the vodka when the syrup is too hot, or you will cook off some of the alcohol.)
With a spoon, stir in the vodka.
10 Remove cakes from the oven:
Remove spring-form pans from the oven. Slam each cake firmly on your counter-top to pop any air bubbles.
Allow cakes to cool completely on the counter or a wire rack before removing from pans.
11 Remove cakes from pans:
Flip the cake layers over onto sheets of parchment paper. Remove the
parchment circles stuck to the tops of the layers.
If there’s a large dome or “crater rim” on a layer, you can shave it off with a long, serrated knife
(or fill it out with extra frosting later).
Brush each layer of cake with 75 g – 100 g Syrup. (The more you add, the moister your cake.)
12 Make frosting:
900 g Powdered sugar
450 g Butter – at room temperature
150 g Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
110 g Milk
30 g Vanilla Extract
10 g Salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer set to low, mix all of the above ingredients.
Gradually work up to high speed.
Once the frosting reaches a consistent colour,
stop the mixer and use a sturdy spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom.
Mix again on high speed, scrape down one more time, and give one final high-speed mix.
The finished frosting will be quite stiff, with no lumps.
13 Set up your frosting station:
If you have a cake turner, tape a round cardboard cut-out to it,
then apply a couple dabs of frosting and add a clean piece of parchment on top of that.
This will be your work surface.
If you don’t have a cake turner, use a cake stand or just a large, flat plate.
Gently place the bottom cake layer on your work surface.
14 Frost that thing:
Scoop frosting into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
Starting from the middle, pipe frosting in a spiral on top of the bottom cake layer,
then stack another cake layer on top.
Pipe another spiral of frosting, top with the final cake layer, and pipe the last spiral of frosting.
We like how ours looks with no frosting on the sides, but if you like side frosting, add it!
Leave as is, or smooth with a palette knife or offset spatula.
If you frosted the sides, finish them with an icing comb.
While frosting is still wet, sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.
Don’t have piping bags and tips? No sweat.
You can use a hefty zip-lock style bag and cut a small hole in the corner.
Chef’s Tip: We like to make this cake a day in advance
to give all the ingredients a chance to set.
If you do that, cover your confection with a tall cake dome
or some plastic wrap and leave it on the counter.