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Recipe Source:

In Julia's Kitchen
with Master Chefs
icon

by Julia Child, with Nancy Verde Barr,
1995, Alfred A. Knopf

Alibris

 

Jim Dodge

"Not many chefs trace their culinary heritage back two hundred years,
but Jim Dodge does. His ancestors opened a hotel, Pendexter Mansion,
near North Conway, New Hampshire, that long ago, and each generation
has carried  on the tradition.
The family philosophy is that everyone must work in every aspect of the
business – waiting tables, cleaning rooms, cooking. Discussions were
always about taking care of people – and good food. 'We were in a rural
area and used  a lot of local ingredients. We had our own sugar house,
made our own maple syrup for the hotel, had vegetable gardens. It was a
pretty special childhood.'
Once in the kitchen, Jim knew that was where he wanted to specialize.
With his father’s encouragement, he trained with a Swiss pastry chef,
Fritz Albicken, and then in his ten years at the Stanford Court Hotel
in San Francisco, he himself became a star pastry chef. While there,
Jim met cooking school owner Mary Risley, who encouraged him to
teach. How fortunate for his students and for New England Culinary
Institute, where he is now Senior Vice President! He is a confident,
enthusiastic teacher – a result of his own constant interest in his
subject. He teaches throughout the country as well as in Japan and
Hong Kong, where he is part owner of the restaurant American Pie.
‘I wonder why some people have such a rigid outlook on food. It is
important to know and understand and know your ingredients well.
Then you understand their limitations as well as their capabilities.
If you have a good knowledge of the fundamentals you can do a lot."

Jim’s books, The American Baker and Baking with Jim Dodge
are fine examples of his unintimidating approach.”

 

Chocolate Buttermilk Fudge Cake

“Here is one really great chocolate cake in all its aspects. It’s high and
mighty, it’s the essence of chocolate, it’s moist, and its fudge frosting
is just right. And you can make it yourself in your own kitchen.”

 Ingredients for a 4-layer 8- by 3 1/2-inch cake

 For the cake pans:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons flour

For the cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter,
cut into 8 pieces
1/3 cup cocoa powder, preferably
Dutch process
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup (scooped and leveled) bleached
cake flour

For assembling the cake:
Chocolate Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)

Special Equipment Suggested:
Two 8- by 2-inch round cake pans
Parchment paper
A pastry brush
A whisk
A microwave oven (useful but not essential)
An extra-wide rubber spatula with
blade 2 1/2 inches across
1 or 2 cake racks
A thin-bladed very sharp serrated knife
A palette knife or an offset spatula
A cake stand or a serving platter

Preliminaries:  Set a pan on a piece of the parchment paper and trace a
circle around the bottom; cut just inside the line to produce a circle that
will fit comfortably inside the pan without wrinkling; make another for
the second pan. Brush a light coating of melted butter all over the bot-
tom and sides of the two pans, line them with the parchment, and butter
the parchment. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour into each pan, roll and
shake it to cover the bottom and sides evenly, and knock out the excess. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and set the rack on the lower level.

Preparing the Chocolate Base:  Heat the buttermilk and butter pieces in
a small saucepan over moderately low heat until the butter has melted and
the temperature of the liquid is about 100 degrees F. Meanwhile, stir the
cocoa and 1/2 cup of the sugar together with the whisk in a large mixing
bowl; when thoroughly mixed, blend in the baking soda and vanilla, and
finally the warm buttermilk-butter mixture. Whisk gently until the sugar
and cocoa are completely dissolved. Set aside while preparing the
egg whites.

The Egg Whites: In the bowl of the electric mixer, whip the egg whites on
high until foamy and then gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, pouring it down the sides to avoid overwhelming and deflating the whites.
Add the sugar slowly will also ensure that it will dissolve. Continue whip-
ping at high speed until peaks form. The result will be a meringue-type
mixture that will hold its shape when folded into the chocolate base. Set
the bowl of whites next to the chocolate mixture.

Finishing the Batter:  Whisk the egg yolks into the preceding chocolate
base, and then whisk in the flour until it is completely incorporated. Use
the wide rubber spatula to transfer the egg whites onto the top of the
chocolate and then to fold them in gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter
into the pans, dividing it evenly between them. Rock the pans gently to
spread the batter evenly. Proceed at once to the oven.

Baking – about 35 minutes at 325 degrees F: Set the pans on the rack
in the preheated oven, spacing them at least 1 inch from each other and
from the sides of the oven.

When Are They Done?  The cakes will have shrunk about 1/16 inch from
the sides of pans. Press each cake gently with the balls of your fingers near
the sides of the pans; press again halfway to the center, and then directly in
the center – there should be the same firmness in all places. Set the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Then turn out onto the racks, bottoms up and with the parchment still attached; the parchment will help keep the cakes moist
as well as assist in their handling later. Let them cool completely.

Ahead-of-Time Note:  When cool, gently and carefully return the cakes
to their pans, slip them into individual plastic bags, and either refrigerate
for 2 to 3 days or freeze for several weeks.

Slicing One Cake into Two Layers:  With the parchment still in place on
top of the cake, and holding your fingers flat under it for support, carefully
turn the cake upside down on your counter; the parchment, now on the bottom, will help the cake rotate easily as it is being sliced horizontally. Position the serrated knife along the side of the cake, midway down from
the top, and with smooth, horizontal strokes (not sawing back and forth)
make a cut about 1 inch deep in that side of the cake, drawing the knife
out away from the cake at the end of your stroke. Rotate the cake with-
out lifting it, and continue making cuts all around the circumference.
Then slice through the two layers using a smooth back and forth motion.

Assembling the Cake:  Carefully life off the top layer of the cake and
turn it upside down on your cake stand or platter. Scoop 1/4 of the
chocolate fudge frosting into the center and smooth it out evenly to
the edges with your spatula. Turn the second layer of the cake upside
down over the frosting, and very carefully remove the paper backing.
Spread on a second coating of frosting. Slice the second cake and
mount both layers on the first cake with frosting in between the
second and third layers.

Scoop up the remaining frosting and spread it over the top, pushing and sweeping it to the edges, letting the excess fall down the sides. Wipe the spatula along the side of the frosting bowl as necessary to collect the
excess. Finally, wash the spatula in hot water and run it over and around
the frosting to restore its gloss. Clean frosting smudges from the stand or
platter with damp paper towels and let the cake sit for 10 minutes,
allowing the frosting to set before serving.

Ahead-of-Time Note:  Cover with a cake dome or large upside-down
bowl, and refrigerate. The cake will keep moist and fine for several
days. Bring to cool room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

“Chef Jim’s fudge frosting is his own creation, with a nicely informal homegrown look. It is easy to apply, and its full chocolate flavor complements his four-layer chocolate cake especially well. This unusual method starts out with a hot sugar
syrup into which butter is gradually beaten, and then melted chocolate.”

Ingredients to Fill and Frost a 4-layer 9-inch Cake (about 4 cups)

For the frosting:
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter,
cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate,
cut into 1/2-inch pieces,
smoothly melted, and cooled
to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special Equipment Suggested:
A 6-cup heavy-bottomed saucepan (for sugar boiling)
An instant-read thermometer
A small bowl of ice and water and a large kitchen spoon
(for sugar syrup testing)
A heavy-duty electric mixer, with whip attachment, or a big
mixing bowl and hand-held beater, or a whisk and elbow grease

Melt the chocolate

Preparing the Sugar Syrup:  Pour the water into a medium-size bowl,
stir in the sugar and corn syrup, and continue stirring until the sugar has
completely dissolved – a most important step, since if the sugar has not
dissolved completely, the syrup may crystallize as you boil it. Pour into
the sugar-boiling pan, set over moderately high heat, and boil to the soft
ball stage,  235 degrees F.

Whipping in the Butter:  Pour the hot syrup into the bowl of the mixer
and start whipping at moderately high speed. Throw in a piece of the
butter, whipping until it has been absorbed into the hot syrup before
adding another piece. Continue adding butter and whipping until all the
butter is in – this will take about 20 minutes however you beat it, and
will go slower as the syrup cools. Increase the speed to high and whip
several minutes more, until the syrup and butter form a mass, stopping
the mixer midway through and scraping down the sides of the bowl
with a spatula to be sure all the syrup and butter have been incor-
porated. (Alternatively, beat the butter into the sugar syrup by hand
with a whisk.)

Adding the Chocolate:  Now whip the cool melted chocolate and the
vanilla into the fluffy sugar-butter mixture, and continue whipping until
the frosting is smooth enough to be spread on your cake.

Ahead-of-Time Note:  May be kept at cool room temperature for
several hours before using.

Tips from Julia on Handling and Serving Cakes and Pies

  Transferring Cake Layers from Work Surface to Cake Stand:  Once the cake has been cut horizontally into two layers, the tricky part is to get the top layer off with-out breaking it. Chef Jim’s method is to lift it very carefully with his outstretched fingers supporting the underside – he has big hands! An alternative suggestion,
from pastry chef Stephanie Hersh, is to slide a wide palette knife under a section
of the horizontal cut, gently lifting it up from the bottom layer. Then begin easing
in a flat surface (a pizza pan, or a vinyl placemat, or a cardboard cake circle).
Gently work the flat surface under the cut layer – always lifting with the spatula
first – until the layer is completely on the flat surface. After you spread the filling over the bottom layer, with the help of the spatula gently slide the top layer onto
the icing.
 

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