Kahlua Cake

Kahlua Cake

Our friend Bobbi shared a delicious Kahlua cake at our Habitat for Humanity fundraiser meeting in October 2013. It was so incredible, I asked her to share the recipe so that I could adapt my Devilishly Dark Chocolate Cake. Here is where I landed.

Pull out all the stops! Serve this Kahlua cake on a beautiful cake stand like this one belonging to my friend, Carolyn Crozier. It is Cape Cod made by Imperial Glass Company of Bellaire, Ohio between 1954 and 1962. Or, bake as baby bundts (see below) and serve on big plates with scoops of ice cream and broad zigzags of Devilishly Dark Frosting. Oh, my.

  • Makes: 12 Servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Parchment paper
Evenly butter two 8-inch cake pans. Trace cake pan bases onto parchment. Fold each tracing in half, then in half again; cut inside the line ¼-inch. Unfold and position in buttered pan. Set aside. Place oven rack just below center; start preheating to 350°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). A pan liner makes it easy to demold this delicate cake. Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.
  • ½ cup Kahlua
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 ounces (1 cup) special dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
Add all to the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer. To avoid a cocoa cloud, first stir with the whisk attachment until no dry cocoa remains, and then blend until smooth (50-60 seconds). To prevent spattering, start low before moving to high. Blending high-fat ingredients with cocoa dissolves cocoa clumps.
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla
Add all to the cocoa mixture to blend. To prevent spattering, start low before moving to high. Scrape down bowl sides; continue beating 4-5 minutes until creamed (sugar is no longer grainy). Adding sugar and eggs after the initial cocoa paste mixture produces a thicker batter and superior oven leavening.
  • 1 cup whole milk
Add to creamed mixture. Whisk until uniform in color (20-30 seconds). Set aside.  
  • 7 ½ ounces all-purpose flour, bleached
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons double acting baking powder
Set a wire mesh strainer over a 1-quart bowl; weigh in the flour and add remaining ingredients. Sift and then whisk together. Add to creamed mixture in thirds, whisking after each addition until there is no dry flour. Whisk 1 minute more. Weighing produces consistent results. Bleached flour is low in gluten, and adding corn starch dilutes gluten proteins, which all promotes a tender crumb. Sifting prevents unsightly white clumps in the cake crumb. Adding dry ingredients in thirds decreases overall mixing time, minimizing gluten development.
  With a silicone spatula, divide between prepared pans. To promote level baked tops, gently rotate to coat pan sides ¼-inch above batter line.  
  Bake until edges start to pull from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean (28-32 minutes). Cool 1 hour on a wire rack under an oversized inverted storage container; remove from pans. To assist demolding, run a silicone spatula around pan edges. Bag and freeze at least an hour before frosting. Cooling before demolding sets the structure, avoiding potential deflation. Covering reduces dehydration. Chilled cakes are easy to frost.
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ounces (⅔ cup) special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
For the frosting: In a 4-quart deep-sided bowl, stir all together with a silicone spatula.  Stirring first avoids creating a sugar cloud.
  • 12 ounces powdered sugar
Stir in powdered sugar; at first, it will seem impossibly dry. Continue stirring until it comes together as frosting. Blend 1 minute with an electric mixer, starting on low and moving to high. Cover bowl, frosting, and beaters tightly with plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour.   
  Just before using, beat to glossy, airy peaks (1-2 minutes). While beating, the color will lighten temporarily. Keep frosting chilled at all times except during mixing, frosting, and serving. This frosting tends to sag if held at room temperature.
  Level cake tops with a serrated knife or cake leveler. Assemble with frosting between layers. To frost exterior, spoon on top and use an icing spatula to bring down the sides. Pipe around the bottom, as desired.