On March 26th it was my birthday. As the Pandemic began to rage and isolation was taking hold I decided to lift my own spirits and make myself a birthday cake... a Brooklyn Blackout Birthday cake. I had always wanted to make one of these cakes and the time had come.
It was amazing. My husband and I loved it but couldn't possibly eat it all so I called my friend Anne (who loves chocolate) and asked if she wanted some. She said "YES!" So I dropped off the rest of the cake on her front steps with a flower in a vase. She loved the cake but lives alone so she delivered the rest what was left to Alexandra Pratt, the then new Director of the West Tisbury Library , busy volunteer at Houses of Grace Shelter and The Island Food Pantry. She and her partner loved the cake.
Then, I had my A-Ha moment. I went on social media and asked for nominations of people who had been going above and beyond during the pandemic and those who might need a little boost and something sweet to lift their spirits.
I was astonished by the slew of nominations I received and the stories I was told about people on our island who are working so hard to help those in need and also many who are struggling.
So, ever since March 26th I have been delivering Brookly Blackout cakes and flower arrangements made by Emily Coulter from Morrice Florist (www.morriceflorist.com) to those on that list. Huge thank yous to Emily and the magic she creates with her flowers that bring so much joy to so many.
Brooklyn Blackout Cakes were popularized by Ebingers Bakery in Brooklyn during World War ll. Brooklyn experienced long periods of black outs during the war because the battleships weremoving in and out of New York Harbor and they wanted to remain unseen, so the entireburrough would go dark for long periods of time. Ebingers created the Brooklyn Blackout Cake in effort to bring light into the darkness, and I have been makingthem for the exact same reason during this pandemic. The original recipe is no longer available and many others abound, and I have created my own from studying various different recipes. (see my recipe below) Below are some photos of the recipients of the Good Karma Cake Challenge as well as my recipe!
My Version of The Infamous Brooklyn Blackout Cake by Polly Simpkins
The original recipe made popular by Ebingers Bakery in Brooklyn has been lost for many years, and there are many iterations of Black Out Cake recipes out there.
This one is my own recipe that I have adapted while working with several different ones. I hope you will decide what you like and don't like and make it your own and then share generously with someone you love!
Unsalted butter, room temperature (for pans)
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1½ cups (packed) dark brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1¼ cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
1¼ cups whole milk
⅔ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup softened Butter (I use Salted Sweet Cream Butter)
1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee (ground fine)
1 teaspoon Hot Water
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 /8 cup Cocoa Powder
1 pound (4 cups) of Powdered Sugar
Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°. Line two 8x2"-deep round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter, then dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and remaining ¾ cup cocoa powder into a medium bowl, then whisk to combine. Whisk egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, sour cream, oil, vanilla, salt, and ¾ cup hot water in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25–35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack; let cake cool completely in pan.
Invert onto a plate, then invert again.
Do Ahead: Cake can be baked 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Pudding and Cake Assembly
Whisk cocoa powder and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Whisk in cream until smooth and no lumps remain. Add egg yolks, milk, brown sugar, and salt; whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, then reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, whisking, until thick and smooth, 1–2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add chocolate and vanilla, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface of hot pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
Using a serrated knife and sawing in long, even strokes, carefully halve cakes lengthwise. Set aside the 3 prettiest layers for assembly. Crumble remaining layer with your fingers into fine crumbs (or push through a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet). Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a platter or cake stand.
Remove plastic from chilled pudding and vigorously whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread half of pudding over cake layer on stand, spreading almost out to the edges(but not quite!)
Top with another cake layer, cut side down, and spread remaining pudding over cake. Top with third cake layer cut side down (leave top bare). Chill cake 1 hour and up to 8 to let pudding
firm up. At this point you should see the pudding just peaking out between the layers.
Frosting (mocha buttercream) Dissolve instant coffee in 1 teaspoon of very hot water. Allow to cool.
(If you prefer your frosting less "mocha-ey, use less coffee to adhere to your liking)
Add softened butter to a mixer (hand or stationary is fine)
Add cooled coffee mixture and vanilla to mixer.
Mix butter, coffee and vanilla.
Mix Cocoa Powder and Powdered Sugar.
Add Cocoa/Powered Sugar a cup at a time and continue
to mix until sugar is incorporated, if mixture is too dry, add whole
milk while blending to create the desired consitency.
After cake has chilled, generously frost cake top and sides, and then apply extra crumbs to sides and top of cake. If there is time, chill covered for few a few hours or overnight. Give to someone you love, someone who has been going above and beyond or may need a little something sweet xoxo