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Eric Akis: Double chocolate layer cake perfect for Dad

Dense chocolate cake and rich chocolate icing are layered together in a classic dessert, perfect for Father's Day.
Chocolate lovers will adore this two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing. ERIK AKIS

If my dear dad were still alive, I would bake and bring him a chocolate cake for Father’s Day, celebrated on June 19 this year.

He loved chocolate, as do I. My son does too — all good reasons for me to make that cake and think of how happy it would have made him.

Today, I have a recipe for a dark, dense and divine double chocolate layer cake. You can bake the two cakes a day in advance and ice and layer them together the following morning.

If layering two cakes together and smoothly icing them seems like too much fuss, in the Eric’s options part of the recipe I’ll guide you on how to make two single-layer cakes, instead.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Dense chocolate cake and rich chocolate icing are layered together in a classic dessert.

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Cooking time: 38 to 40 minutes

Makes: 12 servings

• vegetable oil spray

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder (see Note)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup cold coffee

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

3 tsp pure vanilla extract (divided)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes

1 (225 gram package) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup milk

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/3 cup strawberry or raspberry jam

• fresh strawberries for serving (optional)

Grease two nine-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Cut two nine-inch rounds of parchment paper. Line the bottom of each pan with a round parchment paper. Set pans aside until needed.

Place flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Combine coffee, buttermilk and 2 tsp vanilla in a second bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Put granulated sugar, oil and eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment of your mixer, or with a hand-held electric mixer, until very well combined and smooth. In three stages, beat in the dry flour mixture alternately with the wet buttermilk mixture. Thoroughly scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and then beat again, until a smooth, fairly thin batter is created.

Divide batter between the two cake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven 38 to 40 minutes, or until cakes spring back when touched in the very centre.

Cool cakes on a baking rack 20 minutes. Then, if needed, run a knife around the inside edge of the pans to loosen the cake from the sides. Carefully invert each pan and release each cake onto the baking rack. Remove the parchment paper if it has adhered to the cake. Cool cakes to room temperature. Individually wrap each cake with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to ice. Cakes can be made a day before needed.

To make icing, set butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl or in the top of a double boiler and set over a pot of simmering water. Stir and heat until butter and chocolate are melted and blended together.

Remove from the heat and mix in the milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Use a spatula to transfer the butter/chocolate mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, ensuring you get all of it. Let cool a few minutes, and then with the paddle attachment of your mixer, or with a hand-held electric mixer, gradually beat in the icing sugar until well combined and a smooth icing is created.

Place one of the cake rounds, flat side up, on a cake plate. Spread the top of that cake with a thin layer of jam. Now carefully spread cake with a 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick layer of icing. Set on the second cake, flat side up.

Carefully, and as smoothly as you can, spread the remaining icing on the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate cake at least an hour before serving to allow icing to set. Cake can be iced many hours before needed.

Slice, plate and serve the cake with strawberries, if desired.

Note: If your cocoa powder has any small lumps in it, pass it through a sifter, or whisk it through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Eric’s options: If you’d prefer to serve two single-layer cakes, set each cake on it own cake plate, flat side up. Now ice the top and sides of each cake (you won’t need the jam here). Refrigerate cakes to set the icing.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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