High Altitude Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
'Tis the season for gluttony! The late arrival of fall finally brought an excuse to make pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin risotto. But despite my love for these warming dishes, I always fall back to my lifelong favorite - the chocolate raspberry combo. In the comfort of my childhood home in Estes, with all possible cooking tools at my fingertips, I set out for a challenge - the twelve layer chocolate raspberry cake. Cakes from scratch are tough to perfect at sea level, but at 7,000 feet in Estes Park, the task can quickly turn disastrous. Many a cakes fall victim to dry, dense, sunken piles of chocolate tragedy. I could not let that happen.Chocolate Raspberry 12 Layer Cake (with adjustments for high altitude)2 cups all purpose flour1 3/4 cup sugar (high altitude: subtract 4 tablespoons)3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder2 teaspoons baking soda (high altitude: subtract 1/2 teaspoon)1/4 teaspoon salt1 cup water (high altitude: add 3 tablespoons)3/4 cup buttermilk (high altitude:add 2 tablespoons)3/4 cup vegetable oil (high altitude: add 2 tablespoons)3 large eggsI used six miniature tart pans, and put the remaining batter into a 9 inch round pan. You could half the recipe if your pans are small, or use two 9 inch round pans to make a four layer cake (recommended, see bottom of page).1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (high altitude: 375 degrees F)2. Trace the bottom of pans (either 2 9-inch rounds or 6 5-inch rounds) onto wax paper, cut out, and place in the bottom of each pan. Grease the sides with cooking spray.3. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.4. Whisk dry ingredients to combine and make a crater in the middle.5. Whisk water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs until just combined (high altitude: be sure not to over mix).6. Pour wet ingredients into the crater of dry ingredients and mix until just combined.7. Bake for 15-20 minutes if using small pans, 25-30 minutes if using large pans (high altitude: baking time will be on the shorter side since temperature is higher).8. Remove from oven and place on cooling racks for 1-2 hours, until completely cooled.Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry LayersPrepare while cake is baking and cooling.10 ounces bittersweet chocolate1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jamFresh raspberries, for decoration1. Heat whipping cream in small sauce pan over medium heat until just boiling.2. Pour over chocolate in small bowl. Let set for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.3. Transfer half of mixture into separate bowl and place in refrigerator for 1 hour, stirring periodically, until thick enough to spread. Allow remaining mixture to cool to room temperature.Assembly1. Gently remove cakes from pans, using a knife to gently separate sides.2. Place one round on a flat plate, face down, and remove wax paper. Spread a few tablespoons of raspberry jam evenly over top. Spread a few tablespoons of refrigerated ganache mixture over top the jam.3. Place another round cake on top, and repeat layering process until all cakes are used.4. For the final layer, coat with remaining refrigerated ganache, then drizzle half of room temperature ganache over top, allowing to spill over the sides. Freeze for 30 minutes to set.5. Drizzle remaining room temperature ganache over top and freeze for 30 minutes to set.6. Remove from freezer and top with raspberries.The deliciously rich flavor, and light moist texture tricked me to believe I had succeeded in my mission. But moments after assembly, my cake began to lean. Sadly, my layers had not baked perfectly flat and, when stacked upon one another, resembled the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I don't think high altitude is to blame, but more likely I chose too tall a tower with too small a dish. Next time I'll try using two 9 inch round pans, as recommended above.