Cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate—not to mention plenty of butter and sugar—put the pleasure in this indulgent dessert from a popular breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot near Stanford University.
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake, Mayfield Bakery & Cafe, Palo Alto, Calif.
When it comes to his own dessert preferences, Kayvon Jordan, executive pastry chef, admits he’s a fruit lover through and through. Despite that predilection, he’s managed to create a chocolate-on-chocolate-on-chocolate concoction that has people flocking to Mayfield Bakery & Cafe (855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, Calif.; cafe 650-853-9200; bakery 650-853-9201; mayfieldbakery.com).
The dessert—the quintessential frosted chocolate cake, baked and garnished to perfection—is every bit as rich as it sounds. Three layers of extremely moist chocolate cake are slathered with ganache enriched with honey, then covered in an American-style buttercream that’s wonderfully dense.
“It’s a cross between a devil’s food cake and a sponge cake,” Jordan says. “A very traditional, very comforting cake."
No wonder it’s always on the menu at the cafe and available either by the slice or by the whole cake at the bakery. In fact, it’s not unusual for the cafe and bakery to sell upwards of 36 slices of this cake per day and for customers to order three cakes a week for celebrations.
Jordan had tried out eight or so other chocolate cakes before nailing this two years ago. “I’m actually surprised at how popular it is,” he says. “I’d like to change it sometimes. But I can’t. People just have to have it."
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake
Makes one 8-inch cake
Adapted with permission from the recipe by Kayvon Jordan of Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
For chocolate fudge cake:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 ⅔ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon coffee extract (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For honey-chocolate ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds and pulp reserved
½ cup semisweet chocolate pieces
For chocolate buttercream:
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
To make the cake:
1. Heat an oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan with baking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and whisk until combined. Set the mixture aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, melted butter, buttermilk, coffee extract, and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cake seems to need more time, watch it carefully and remove it from the oven when the sides begin to pull away from the pan.
5. Allow the cake to cool on a rack, then unmold.
To make the honey-chocolate ganache:
1. In a medium-size pan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, honey, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and pulp, and bring the mixture to a simmer. While it heats, place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl.
2. When the cream mixture is ready, pour it over the chocolate. Let the combined ingredients sit for 1 minute, then whisk until they are well incorporated. Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature.
To make the chocolate buttercream:
1. Sift the sugar, salt, and cocoa powder together into a large bowl.
2. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a separate large bowl, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, water, and dry ingredients, and cream the mixture until smooth. Alternatively, you can beat the butter by hand, then cream in the vanilla, water, and the dry ingredients.
To assemble the cake:
1. If the top of the cake has a slight dome, use a knife to carefully shave off a thin layer to level it. Next, cut the cake parallel to its bottom surface into three even layers. Place the first layer on a large plate. Spread ½ cup of honey-chocolate ganache evenly on the first cake layer, and top with the second layer. Repeat with the rest of the ganache and cake, but do not spread the top layer with the ganache. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to harden the honey-chocolate ganache.
2. Using an icing spatula and working in a circular motion, frost the entire cake with chocolate buttercream.
Photography by Carolyn Jung
This article was first published in December 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.