I really need to check my tickets like a million times before I travel next… especially if they’ve been booked by someone else! There I was on Saturday afternoon, all content after my theatre workshop in Jaipur, excited to head back home that evening… when I just happened to glance at my ticket. And guess what… I was booked on the flight home the next day!! Long story short, I got an extra 24 hours in the city, which was great since I had been supremely lazy this trip & hadn’t gone anywhere! So I went shopping (yay!), had a drink & a traditional Rajasthani dinner with my friend (camera played tricks so no pictures :-()… & lazed some more all of Sunday!
But my delayed return home meant that I would not have the time to a bake a birthday cake for my father-in-law before mid-night Sunday… or would I?
While relaxing on Sunday, I caught up on my blog-reading. I was going through one I had just started following Food Made With Love… the name itself got me interested because that’s what I believe in too, spreading love through food! And I hit jackpot! I saw a recipe for a Brooklyn Blackout Cake. I was very intrigued… this was the 2nd time in 2 days that I came across that cake! Seemed like there was some history to it. And there is! I love background stories to everything! I went & asked my best friend, Google, & here’s what I found.
The Brooklyn Blackout Cake is a soft, crumbly, 3 layered chocolate cake (usually Devil’s Food) with a wonderfully deep yet light chocolate custard / pudding filling & frosting, topped with a layer of finely processed cake crumbs. Sigh… I wanted to sink my teeth into that one right then & there!!
The original cake was invented by a New York bakery, Ebinger’s, which was a Brooklyn institution from 1894 to 1972. During World War II, the Civilian Defense Corps in the U.S., regularly practiced blackout drills. In Brooklyn, which was close to the naval yard, blackouts prevented the battleships which were dispatched from being silhouetted by the bright lights of the borough in the background. So the dark, almost black cake was named after these blackout drills.
This rich, intense cake was somewhat of a staple in New York, the cake that you took as a gift at a dinner party, for birthdays or just as a treat! It was apparently the kind of cake that grandparents tell their grandkids about… “You have no idea what you have missed!” types. Ebinger’s shut shop in 1972. Of course the authentic Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe was lost with that. Many bakers, bakeries & die-hard Ebinger fans have since tried to recreate this yummy-licious cake.
The recipe I followed is from Food Made With Love, which was in turn from the Humming Bird Bakery Cookbook. Luckily I had most of the ingredients I needed & my doll of sister-in-law picked up the rest by the time I landed! So I reached home & got down to making the Brooklyn Blackout Cake for my father-in-law’s birthday!
- 100 gm Butter, (softened)
- 260 gm Caster Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 45 gm Cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
- 170 gm Plain Flour
- 160 ml Whole Milk
- 250 gm Caster Sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 125 gm Cocoa Powder
- 200 gm Cornflour
- 85 gm Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A pack of Chocolate Chip Cookies, blitzed in the food processor
The original recipe called for:
- Unsalted butter. If you do use this, you need to add a pinch of salt.
- 500 gm Castor Sugar. I thought I’d start off by adding half the quantity of sugar & taste my way along to see if more was needed. I think 250 gm was enough
- 1 tablespoon Golden Syrup. I figured that the Maple Syrup enhanced the sweetness & added this rich flavour to the custard.
3 x 20 cm cake tins, base-lined with grease-proof paper
For the Cake
- Cream the butter and sugar until light & fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time,whisk & mix well ,scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda (plus salt if using).
- Add half the flour, then all the milk, & finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until everything is well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins & smooth over with a palette knife.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 170 C for 2o mins (if using 3 x 20 cm tins).
- 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 & 600 ml of water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.
- Mix in the cornflour with 120 ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
- Bring back to boil , whisking constantly. This is important else the custard will be lumpy.
- Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat & stir in the butter & vanilla extract.
- Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm & chill until very firm.
Putting it Together
- When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes.
- Put this layer into a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.
- Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.
- 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 cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.
- I used the wrong sized cake tin (a larger one!) so the cake didn’t rise enough to give me 3 layers + crumbs
- I sliced 2 layers & instead of cake crumbs, used the cookie crumbs
- Also since I made 1 large-ish cake, it took longer to bake almost 35 minutes.
I finished frosting just after midnight, so we ended up cutting the cake the next day. It stayed well in the refrigerator & I kept it out for an hour before serving. It was so worth the wait! Soft, gooey & rich, rich chocolate!! And surprisingly light too. This cake is going to be baked pretty often I think!!
This recipe serves 12 people.
PS: I would like to thank Robert Simon for informing me that the Original Ebinger Brooklyn Blackout Cake, was made with Coffee. That, I can imagine, would take the cake to another level! Am definitely going tot add in the coffee the next time I make it 🙂