Back in the Day Chocolate Cake

 chocolate cake 2

I’m pretty sure I’ve never baked a cake that required 18 squares of baking chocolate. 18. Seriously.

I’ve also never baked a 3-layer cake that uses 3 whole 9-inch layers.

sliced chocolate cake

But the chocolate cake in the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is, according to their interview on Splendid Table, the best recipe in the book. So I wanted to give it a try.


cake and cookbook

The recipe is very easy. And it is DELICIOUS. Especially the frosting. The frosting is so chocolaty and so light at the same time. Not cloyingly sweet at all. The cake is also surprisingly light for the vast amount of chocolate in it.

Some important things to note are:

1) This cake is HUGE. It is 3 full layers. It is too much cake for a regular occaision. How big is it? Try this on to see scale…


 pepsi can and cake

Oh yeah, it also won’t fit in a regular cake safe. Kinda didn’t think about that…


cake safe3)  The chocolate for the cake (pictured below),  9 of the 18 squares of chocolate, does not need to be melted in advance. However, the chocolate for the frosting needs to be melted far enough in advance that it will be cool in time to make the frosting, but not so far in advance that it re-solidifies… and…

mmm melted chocolate


4) Really scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing process. She says this in the recipe specifically, “Remove the bowl from the mixer, and using a rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed. “

Oh they hide alright, those sneaky little ingredients…even from the powerful Kitchen Aid stand up mixer.

It is a pretty thick set of liquid ingredients that’s being blended, and it will clump. I think you need to make sure that you’ve mixed them in with the beater, not just by hand. (But yet, you don’t want to overmix or you’ll have a tough cake…)

 cake batter in mixer

5) Check them with a toothpick, and on the early side of the time range.   It said 40 – 50 min, and I pulled them at about 47 min. I should have pulled them at 40.

I probably also should have dropped the temp setting to 340. I was baking in dark pans in an electric oven that tends to run hot, so I’d dropped it from 350 to 345, but that might have not been enough. The cake was a tiny bit dry, and I consider that baker error, not a recipe error because I thought I knew better…

chocolate cakes just out of oven

 As you can see from the photo, they look like they might be slightly underdone, which is what made me leave them in for as long as I did. Usually I can quickly tell from sight alone how far a long a cake is. The deceptive “underdone” spots are actually areas where the batter didn’t get completely mixed.

But since we decided to make Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream to go with the cake, the slight dryness wasn’t a problem. This vanilla ice cream recipe is fantastic. It’s got a very odd ingredient – peach preserves – that works so very well.

ice cream being poured into mixer


vanilla ice cream

About Tiff719


  1. […] with me.) I’ve been making buttercream frosting for years. And up until last month’s giant chocolate cake that I made from Back in the Day, I thought my buttercream was pretty good. Mine is good. Theirs is […]

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