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Crumb coats for frosting cakes

jocelyng's picture

I'm making a chocolate stout cake from epicurious for a St. Patrick's Day-themed lunch tomorrow.  It is three layers with lots of chocolate frosting.  I am wondering about putting in the fridge to firm up before I do a crumb coat around the top and sides.  Should I do that or just do the crumb coat, then refrigerate it (for how long)?  I usually shy away from frostings because I am not too coordinated.  Any tips are welcome.



P.S.  Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Stout Cake

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream

2 cups whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

For icing:
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours.

Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake.

Edited 3/8/2005 2:46 pm ET by jocelyng

Adele's picture

(post #63453, reply #1 of 14)

No clue, but isn't St. Patrick's Day next week?  

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #2 of 14)

Indeed it is.  This is for my son's Teacher's Lunch and since they are only once a month, they went with an Irish theme.  Of course, another mom made it a little easier on herself than I.  She is make brownies with a green mint icing.  Wish I had thought of that!


MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63453, reply #3 of 14)

crumb coat then refrigerate - just until the icing is a bit firm.

Edited 3/8/2005 3:32 pm ET by MEAN CHEF

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #4 of 14)

Will do.  First things first, though.  I made the cake layers and they seemed done (I had to cook them an additional 5 or 6 minutes over the cooking time in the recipe).   Now that they are cooling, they all sank in the middle.  Is it possible they are underdone in the middle?  I could re-make them if I have to... I'm nervous now...


MEANCHEF's picture

(post #63453, reply #5 of 14)

Tough call.  How much did they sink?

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #6 of 14)

Quite a bit.

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #7 of 14)

Two were worse than the third one, so I cut it open to see.  It was pretty soft in the middle.  Guess I'm starting over.  Argh.


Beebs's picture

(post #63453, reply #8 of 14)

I know it's too late to help you with tonite's baking, but for future reference, I've made this cake a couple of times. Although it calls for 8" pans, it is really a recipe for 3 9" pans. If you used 8" pans, maybe that's why you had a problem? I can't remember having any major problems with sinking. The other possibility is that maybe you beat it too much.
Also, I've never crumb-coated it, although I'm sure that would improve the appearance. I'll have to think about that next time. Do you crumb coat all your cakes?

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #9 of 14)

I saw that someone (you?) posted a note about using 9" pans instead.  As it happens, I had three 8" ones, so I went with that.  The second time around, I baked it at 325° instead of 350°.  Longer, of course, but it seemed better.  As for crumb coating all my cakes, I honestly can't remember the last time I iced a cake.  Somehow, I never make cakes.  Cookies and tarts, mostly.

In any case, there are so many chocolate cakes to make in the world, I probably won't make this again.


kr8tvcat's picture

(post #63453, reply #10 of 14)

I maybe responding later than you needed, but figured I'd pitch in anyway (I make wedding/bday cakes)....from reading the recipe it looks like it's a standard butter cake (ie. not a chiffon type which are more tempramental when it comes to sinking)....going on gut instinct, it sounds like the culprit may have been when you changed the baking temperature and baking duration....isn't the Stout cake supposed to be kinda fudgy?  Haven't made this one a general rule, if you change pan sizes, the safest bet to know you're not putting in too much batter, is to always fill them no more than 2/3 full.  Also, I never use 'butter' to grease my pans, depending on the recipe the batter may react to the milk solids in butter so I prefer to use vegetable shortening as a rule of thumb.  As for icing the cake, if you're not sure or don't feel you have a steady hand, try using the 'S' stroke instead.  Ie. crumb coat or not, you just apply the icing in small dollops making an 's' motion with each addition to the cake.  It'll look like a pro made it and you barely break a sweat, very forgiving on flaws as well....hope that helps...


jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #11 of 14)


Appreciate all the tips.  I think the problem with the baking was that I used the size pan that was called for (8") but should have used 9".  Anyway, word is that it was a huge hit.  My son has been eating the "mistake" and loving it.  The icing wasn't fluffy like you describe, but that may be because I left it in the fridge a few minutes too long.  It was a little stiff, so it was kind of flat.  Anyway, I garnished it with strawberries and it looked great IMHO.


Beebs's picture

(post #63453, reply #13 of 14)

I think that particular icing isn't supposed to be fluffy. It's really more like a ganache. You'd have to try a different frosting recipe to use the S technique.
Surprised your son liked it so much, because I was going to mention that I think it's really an adult cake - not overly sweet.

jocelyng's picture

(post #63453, reply #14 of 14)

Not overly sweet but very chocolately.   That's all it takes with him (and my 7-year-old daughter, too).  Kind of explains why the Pear Clafoutis tonight wasn't so popular with them.  They went for the last of the chocolate cake!


CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63453, reply #12 of 14)

"Also, I never use 'butter' to grease my pans, depending on the recipe the batter may react to the milk solids in butter"

??? Can you explain what you mean here? I always use butter and have never had any problems.