I have a confession: I use boxed cake mix and frosting from a can. I’ve made cakes and frosting from scratch, but the cake mixes are so much easier, and they often turn out better. I’ve never had a cake from a boxed mix that falls, and I wish I could say the same for every scratch cake that I’ve ever made. My husband requests a cake (from a boxed mix, with canned frosting) every year for his birthday, and I happily give him his wish. So, it’s with some trepidation that I approach the cakes in the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. In this case (Chocolate Buttercream Cake, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, pp. 194-196), my anxiety was for naught. I chose this recipe first because of the pretty picture featured alongside it, and the fact that every time my husband sees that picture, he says, “That looks pretty.” This cake was beautiful, and actually quite easy. The frosting was a bit of a challenge – it was really, really thin. The recipe instructed that if the frosting is soft, one should let it cool and try again. Eventually, after whipping the frosting at high speed and refrigerating it, it firmed up quite nicely, to the point of being almost fudge-like the next day. This cake is awfully rich, so a small piece is all you’ll need. (These are words you will not often hear from me.)
You’ll notice that this was not made as a layer cake. I’m lazy, and as every good Midwestern girl knows, a layer cake recipe can be made in a 9×13 pan, and anyone who complains about it won’t get seconds. So there.