Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

From the author: "Natural (or regular) cocoa gives the cake a fuller, more assertive chocolate flavor than does Dutch-processed cocoa. In addition, Dutch-processed cocoa will result in a compromised rise. The cake can be served with just a dusting of confectionersí sugar but is easily made more impressive with Tangy Whipped Cream and Lightly Sweetened Raspberries (recipes follow). The cake can be made a day in advance; wrap the cooled cake in plastic and store it at room temperature. Dust with confectionersí sugar just before serving." Serves 12 to 14

CAKE RELEASE:
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. cocoa

CAKE:
3/4 cup (2-1/4 ounces) natural cocoa
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. instant espresso powder (First time I used 1 Tbsp, second time I used 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp)
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt (I use 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp. baking soda
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature

Confectionersí sugar for dusting


1. FOR THE PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of a standard 12-cup Bundt pan. (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to combine.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one-third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 10 to 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. (I baked until toothpick came out with a few moist crumbs attached, about one hour). Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack; (I released pan sides, then let cool on wire rack), cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Dust with confectionersí sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges; serve with Tangy Whipped Cream and raspberries, if desired.

TANGY WHIPPED CREAM

1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric mixer, beat all ingredients, gradually increasing speed from low to high, until cream forms soft peaks, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.

LIGHTLY SWEETENED RASPBERRIES

3 cups fresh raspberries, gently rinsed and dried
1 to 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Gently toss raspberries with sugar, then let stand until berries have released some juice and sugar has dissolved, about 15 minutes.

Cooks Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2004 -Erika Bruce

[From the original Poster: "...it is one of the best-textured and most chocolatey cakes I've ever tasted, MILES better than the usual chocolate cake (which, if you close your eyes, you'd have a hard time identifying as chocolate-flavored!). One of the unusual aspects of the recipe is the use of boiling water with the cocoa, which, as the author points out in her notes prior to giving the recipe, "not only disperses the cocoa throughout the batter, but also blooms the flavor." Whatever the chemistry is, it sure seems to work.

The recipe also calls for an unusual "release" coating to be brushed inside the Bundt pan before baking (even if the pan's nonstick). If you have a very fancy Bundt pan with a lot of crevices, you may need to make extra of this coating. The cake released beautifully. I ended up baking the cake for slightly longer (about 5 minutes) than the recipe called for before the cake tested clean, but your mileage may vary...

...Note that the recipe is designed for a 12-cup Bundt pan. I only point that out because so many of the newer, more decorative Bundt pans are 10-cup, so if you're using a 10-cup Bundt pan, you'll want to remove a cup or two of batter before pouring the batter into the pan (if you have some mini-bundt pans or mini-loaf pans, you could probably bake the leftover in those).

Lastly, the cake seems to keep marvelously at room temperature for several days, if wrapped or kept under a cake dome."

Source of recipe: Cooks Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2004

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake