Brooklyn Blackout Cake
I’ve just returned from a wonderful whirlwind trip to the US and I have so much I want to share with you. If only I didn’t have thousands of photos to sort through and edit first!
So to make up for being such a slacker on the blogging front, I’m sharing a recipe for this luscious, to-die-for Brooklyn Blackout Cake, which I made over the New Year. (Yeah, I’ve been sitting on this for a month!)
Some people simply call this the chocolate blackout cake, but according to many sources including this amazing blog, the origins of this cake led all the way back to World War II and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
There was a chocolate confection maker and bakery known as Ebinger Bakery that thrived before and during WWII. They were located next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During that time, the whole city was subject to blackout drills and it was during this time that Ebinger decided to name its chocolate-on-chocolate cake in honour of it’s Brooklyn neighbour.
It’s more of a retro cake now as not many places (even in Brooklyn or NYC) sells it. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the key features of a blackout cake includes rich chocolate cake with chocolate cream (or custard) layers and topped with chocolate cake crumbs. It’s all dark and gooey, looks totally sinful and mysterious but tastes like heaven.
I got my recipe from one of my favourite London bakery cookbooks – The Hummingbird Bakery. As I flipped through the pages of cake recipes, this Brooklyn Blackout Cake stood out because of its unique crumb covered frosting.
There’s cake on the inside, with the yummiest custard cream and then cake on the outside. What’s not to like??
Instead of a round, tri-layered cake as the recipe stated, I used a large rectangle pan instead, split the cake in half and made a double layered version, cutting off the sloping edges for the crumbs. Worked well, I had loads of custard leftover but one happy hubby who gladly licked the bowl clean.
This moist, decadent cake is definitely a winner for all chocolate cake lovers out there.
Brooklyn Blackout Cake
From The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
100g unsalted butter (room temperature)
260g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160ml whole milk
500g caster sugar (I only used 300g to cut down on the sweetness)
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
85g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
three 20-cm cake tins based lined with greaseproof paper
(I actually baked one cake in an approx 45cm rectangle baking tray and split the cake in half and made a two layered cake)
Preheat oven to 170C (325F).
Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
Add half the flour, then all the milk and finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until everything is well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
For the chocolate custard: Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Mix the cornflour with 120-200ml water, whisking briskly as you add the water. The mixture should be the consistency of thick glue so add more water if it’s still too thick (do not exceed 250ml).
Whisk gradually into the cocoa mixture in the pan over medium (not high) heat. Bring back to the boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, for a few minutes, until quite thick. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill until very firm.
Slice a thin layer off one cake and put in a food processor. Process into fine crumbs. Put one cake on a cake stand and spread one quarter of the custard over it. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides. Cover with the crumbs and chill for 2 hours.