espresso-chiffon-cake-with-fudge-frosting Recipes

espresso chiffon cake with fudge frosting

Of course, there was also cake. I mean, you didn’t think I’d let my better half’s 35th birthday go by without some homemade, stacked and butter-laden goodness, did you? Right, I didn’t think so.

egg whites, soft peaksfrothy cappucino-like batterespresso chiffon cakes, coolingbrushing the cake with more espresso

Now, no introduction to a birthday cake for Alex would be complete without a brief tour of the cakes from years past, when there has been an Icebox Cake, a Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, a Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake and the cake that you all liked so much, it broke the server’s back for a harrowing day or two last year, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Did you sense a theme or something? There Will Be Chocolate, Like You Even Needed To Ask.

instant fudge frosting

Alas, after throwing a self-catered party on Saturday night, my cake-baking ambition for Monday was just slightly diminished, not that this cake was any kind of cop-out, just perhaps not the Smith Island Cake riff (like this stunner, but with crushed peanut butter cups between the layers; yes for real) I’d been threatening for months. Besides, we’d already hit most of Alex’s favorite food groups in years past — Oreos, cheesecake and peanut butter — it was time to move onto another: coffee, and lots of it. But I didn’t want to make a mocha cake; in those, it always feels like something gets lost in them, like there’s never enough coffee or chocolate flavor. Instead, I wanted to separate the flavors out: an intensely coffee-soaked layer cake and a dark, fudgy frosting…

Did you hear me tell you that the cake was drenched in a boozy espresso syrup? How about the part with the deep chocolate frosting that comes together in ten seconds? No really, why are you still reading? If you had this in your fridge, you’d be halfway to the kitchen right now to get another slice. I know I am.

espresso-soaked chiffon cake with fudge frosting

Layer Cake Tips: New to celebration cakes? Daunted by all of those layers and steps? Check out my layer cake tips post for a round-up of all of the tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

Espresso Chiffon Cake
Adapted from (what else?) Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Despite picking one, I actually have all sorts of biases against chiffon cakes; mostly, that they’re lovely and fluffy but dry, namely because they have just smidgens of oil or butter in them. But this one called to me. I was hoping that the lightness of the chiffon cake layers would allow the strong espresso taste to come through, and that it did, though it didn’t hurt that it was brushed with a 1:1:1 ratio syrup of sugar, rum and straight espresso [or in other words, I think I briefly forgot that I was pregnant or something. Officially the most caffeine and booze I’ve had in 34 weeks and completely worth it.] that made the cake so ridiculously moist, I will never talk smack about chiffon cakes again.

Makes an 8- or 9-inch triple-layer cake

1/4 cup (60 ml) neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (90 ml) freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature (Huntsman recommends freshly-brewed over hydrating espresso powder, which she feels can be too bitter)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (170 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.

In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.

Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes each, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans. When cooled, run a blunt knife around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto wire racks and remove the paper liners.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Soak the cake with 1/3 cup of the Espresso Syrup (below). Spread about 1 1/3 cups of the Instant Fudge Frosting (below) evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more syrup and more frosting. Finally, top with the third layer. Soak it with the remaining syrup and frost the tops and sides with the remaining frosting.

Espresso Syrup

Makes one cup

1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s

In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.

Don’t want to use rum? (I know someone will ask.) I’d swap it with water, perhaps flavored with some vanilla extract. Worried about the caffeine? Use decaf espresso.

Instant Fudge Frosting
Adapted, barely, from a Sky High recipe

Now, this is, to be honest, a fancy name for a quick buttercream but it’s got two things going for it that are worth mentioning: One, the frosting isn’t flavored with cocoa (too mild) or even good semisweet chocolate, but unsweetened chocolate. Brilliant, I tell you. I find most quick buttercreams way too sweet, and although this one still is quite sugary, the super-bitter chocolate goes a long way to mitigating it. The second thing worth mentioning is this: Did you know you can make quick buttercreams in the food processor? I had no idea, I hadn’t even considered it before. But there I was whirling everything together in ten seconds flat and I will make it no other way from now on.

Makes about 5 cups

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.

Frosting tip: If your kitchen is as hot and sticky as mine is in the summer, you’ll want to watch a frosting like this carefully to make sure it doesn’t get too melty and soft. If it does, periodically put the bowl of frosting and your partially frosting cake back in the fridge to let it firm up and cool down again, then resume where you left off.

Planning to write on your cake? Whirl all of the frosting ingredients except the melted chocolate in the food processor until smooth. Set aside a half-cup of the white frosting for tinting and writing, then add the chocolate to finish making the frosting.

Cappuccino Chiffon Cake, a variation: Now, if you were with me on the espresso cake but lost interest when I got to the fudge frosting, good news! The original cake I recipe I borrowed from was actually a Cappucino Chiffon Cake — filled and frosted with whipped cream (3 cups heavy cream to 1 cup 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, whipped until stiff peaks form) and dusted with cocoa and/or cinnamon, just like a frothy cappucino. Frankly, it sounds amazing as the light, almost foamy qualities of the chiffon cake would be matched by the almost weightless frosting and I imagine a bite on your fork would be like diving into a cappucino cloud and hey, do you think someone around here misses coffee or something?

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291 comments on espresso chiffon cake with fudge frosting

  1. Another beautiful birthday cake! I love chiffon cake, but I have mostly had homemade chiffon cakes, often mine, and they don’t taste/feel dry. Recently I had some out and it WAS pretty dry.
    For anyone who wants to try another delicious chiffon cake (& I promise it is not dry!), I highly recommend all the chiffon recipes in The Cake Bible, especially the Orange Glow Chiffon Cake, demo at this link:
    http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2009/02/orange_glow_chiffon_cake.html

    Deb, which tip did you use for those stars? they are so cute in fudge! they look almost like artisan chocolates pressed into the border of the cake! I am impressed with how that frosting holds its shape.

  2. Giovani

    YUM. I always need a reason to make a cake and you give me plenty of them! I think I’m going to attack the cappuccino variation, I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. I was so excited about this, due to the intense birthday cake I’ve been doing for my son’s birthday at the end of the month. (Yes, it may only be his second, but when there’s an excuse other than a Tuesday to bake a cake, I jump at it.) You may have dashed my birthday hopes with the rum, but well, if there’s any excuse for rum, a Wednesday is as good of one as I can think of. Cake a booze for dinner? Yes, please.

  4. This cake looks amazing! The chocolate:coffee ratio sounds perfect. A must for this weekend friend get together. And good job in the video – the wobbly head isn’t as bad as you might think. It speaks to your wonderful and fun personality.

    Did you use the same frosting to pipe the writing? Does it pipe well?

  5. Wow, you are killing me with the mention of the 14-layer with crushed peanut butter cups. Just, wow. Bestill my poor pregnant heart! I am off sugar for the last 1.5 mos of my pregnancy while I manage gestational diabetes with an iron fist (or make that a stainless steel pair of salad tongs), and man if a fudgey multi-layer cake isn’t the worst and best kind of food porn right now. Thanks for posting it and giving me good dreams :)

  6. Lovely! I’m really not a coffee person at all, but drenching the cake with a syrup sounds oh-so-delicious, not to mention the dark, fudgy frosting. I’d be willing to lie and say today was my birthday, just to have an excuse to whip this up for myself. On the other hand, who needs an excuse?

  7. See now, this is a genius cake on so many levels. Where to even begin?

    I love a good chiffon cake, but doesn’t it feel like sometimes it can end up as a real throwaway kinda thing because it’s so light? Punching it up with the espresso makes it a stronger match for bolder frosting and filling pairings–love love love this idea!

    And after seeing so many great recipes from Sky High here, I’m starting to think I’m gonna get the shakes if I don’t order it for myself.

  8. Brilliant! I WISH there was someone in my life who could make such amazing cakes for my birthday- I’m rather fed up with having to make them for myself. loving your twitters by the way they always make me smile.

  9. Kristen E

    Oh, this looks amazing! Particularly with the whipped cream frosting – I’m not keen on chocolate, and sometimes it’s hard for me to find interesting cakes that don’t have chocolate in there somewhere. :) This might have to be MY birthday cake!

  10. Selkie

    First: I love that wobbly head move: you are so CUTE in that video!
    Second: Tried the Aeropress? BEST espresso, and so quick and neat.
    Third: Can we send you baby outfits? I will, I will….

  11. Linda

    oh sweet lovely cake…i was looking for you for that special dinner i am having…thanks so much…great read today (as always!!!)

  12. jo

    I’ve tried the capuccino chiffon version and love the end result it had produced. I am sure your adaptation is equally delicious. Love the chcoclate frosting version and it does look decadent.

  13. Golly geez Louise… I was heading to the treadmill to attempt to start working off the last chocolate recipe I baked. This is a killer but a must do. I’ll walk a little longer. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Sharon

    I made the bakerella/Art Smith 12 layer cake and it was amazing! I used disposable pans, then froze the layers. I topped the whole she-bang with the same fudge frosting, though I made mine in the mixer. Highly reccomended for a post-baby project.

  15. When you blog about CAKES it just makes me go weak at the knees. They are above and beyond my FAVORITEST blog posts EVER! Keep’m coming! I never tire of a good cake E-V-E-R! Thanks!

  16. Ah! How do you find the energy? Especially in this humid muggy smoggy weather? This cake sounds like a dream! I’m not baking it for my birthday. Nope. I’m attaching it right now to Alex’s Google calender so that he knows it’s the only thing I wish for… I hope he’ll bake it for me.

  17. Oh, my Heavens!! I think I just drooled on the monitor. No, really, get me a tissue. Chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon. Genius. Your obsession with cake is fantastic. Makes me feel a little better about my obsession with soup.

  18. Happy birthday to your equally good half! Stunning cake. I ? everything about it; anyhting espresso/coffee gets my instant vote. Congrats on spreading the birthday cake obsessiveness … I am like that too, though currently mac absessed! I’ve never made a chiffin cake & I think I’d better pretty soon! Thank you for posting this beauty!!

  19. Meghan

    You have just provided me with the perfect recipe for my husband’s birthday! Thanks to both mr. and mrs. smittenkitchen. (mr. for providing the occasion!) I can’t wait to pull this one out as a surprise!

  20. spindrift

    Deb!
    Deb!!!
    I’m on a study-associated baking ban and suffering as I read your post. sounds so painfully perfect and I just love the quartet of photos of the preparation/assembly, especially the one with the folding. It’s ALWAYS THE FOLDING THAT GETS TO ME.
    I can’t imagine how Alex would have had anything other than a very happy birthday indeed.

  21. I am making this cake. I can ALWAYS find something to celebrate. I will let you know how it turned out. I did the “server buster” cake last year. We still talk about it. Thanks so much for such an inspiring blog. N

  22. Marilee

    Deb, I think you were wonderful in the Good Bites video. And I don’t think your head was too wobbly at all. Can you imagine how terrible it would have been if your head was stiff and didn’t move at all? No, I think you looked very natural. :)

  23. aadila

    Hi. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and love it. Today, was the day that I had to add a comment…..I made your Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and it turned out absolutely AMAZING!!!!I think that it’s great you provide links to older recipes on most of your posts – That’s how I found this cake. Thank you and keep up the fab work!

  24. Deb–I know you are very, very pregnant right now, and I hear that really zaps your energy but you MUST make a Smith Island Cake. They are AMAZING! I’m a lifelong Maryland resident and we just love Smith Island Cakes around here (well, duh, Smith Island being in Maryland after all) and they’re irresistable. And have a very high wow factor. I can’t encourage you enough. Just DO IT! :-)

  25. Mona

    Happy Birthday to Alex!

    Looks amazing, yet another success! :-) My mom will adore this – anything with coffee and chocolate together…..

    Or, chocolate and orange together. Please say you are planning something like that soon! ;-)

  26. Carrie

    “I just love the quartet of photos of the preparation/assembly, especially the one with the folding. It’s ALWAYS THE FOLDING THAT GETS TO ME.” might be my favorite blog-comment in the history of blogging.

    Also? I totaly agree.

  27. Your cake looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Chocolate and coffee are my all-time favorite flavors. I often make mocha cupcakes with an espresso buttercream frosting that all of my friends/family love, but I agree with you that somewhere along the way the flavors don’t stand well on their own. The cupcakes lose the coffee flavor, and the icing often overpowers the cupcake (in my opinion). Next time I will give these a try!

  28. Love the video – so cute and you have such lucky friends and family! The cake looks delicious and reminds me a bit of the tiramisu cake you made a year or so ago with the espresso syrup in there.

    1. deb

      Akila — Glad you brought the tiramisu cake up, actually, because things about it have always needled me — the cake wasn’t as light as I wanted it to be, it needs more syrup, all stuff that has come up in the comments. Anyway, I couldn’t help but think that this cake would be way better as a base for the tiramisu cake, with some adjustments made. Chiffon is much more ladyfinger-like than a yellow layer cake. I’ll revisit it one day soon (I hope) and try this theory out.

  29. Sooooo…I’m just wanna go ahead and make this frosting and just eat it by myself in the corner…

    My name is Alex too, so I can easily pretend the cake is for me :)

  30. Lesley

    Ok, possible dumb question here: when do you put the cream of tartar in? I read the recipe over and must be missing where that goes.

  31. JoJo

    Veering ever-so-slightly off topic, I want to purchase 6-inch layer cake pans. Would you recommend the 6×2 or 6×3 inch, and is there a brand that you like?

    1. deb

      I don’t have any brand preference. 6×2 may be standard, but 6×3 will give you more flexibility, should you want to make a taller cake or if you have underestimated the rise of a cake. If you want even more flexibility from it, get one with a removable bottom — then you can make springform-style cakes too.

      Btw, I was going to make this cake in 6-inch pans, since it was just for our family, but had a funny feeling that between the shrinking chiffons do and the lower volume of the cake, that it might feel too tiny for 7 to 8 people. I’m glad I followed my instinct — this cake is much slimmer than many of the other 8- and 9-inch three layer cakes on this site.

  32. You’re killing me! I had resolved to take a little break from sweets…until I saw this cake. Wow! Great idea to brush the cake layers for extra moistness – it really does make a difference.

  33. On your recommendation, I purchased Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, and I can only say it is the BEST CAKE COOKBOOK. EVER. The Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake is perhaps one of the nicest cakes I’ve ever made. It even rivals the chocolate cake from the Rebar cookbook! The Mocha Cake with Espresso Drizzle was also amazing…… Everyone needs this book, Deb.

    Personally, I can’t wait to try this cake because espresso + sugar in the form of a cake = pure bliss. Guess I’m gonna have to make up an occasion!

  34. Kerry

    Deb, you are amazing! I found you through Interesting Pile just a few days ago, and I’ve already made Homemade Oreos, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and Brownie Roll-out Cookies. I’m working on batch two of the roll-out cookies because my hubby is so in love with them! I cannot wait to try the cappuccino variation of this cake. I’ll have some fat but happy family and co-workers because of you! Thank you so, so much!

  35. Krista

    I apologize for maybe being part of the reason for your broken server last year (but honestly, no one can be blamed!) … but this cake looks amazing! I’ll definitely try out the whipped cream variation soon, it sounds absolutely light and delicious!

  36. Do you have any recommendations on how long the cake will keep? Can I freeze it? I have a dinner party to attend on Monday night and just wondering if I could make the cake tonight (Thur) and possibly freeze it and then frost it on Monday?

    1. deb

      How long it will keep will have to do with how well you wrap it and how good of a job your freezer does keeping well-wrapped foods fresh. A few days should never be a problem. You should check out my cake tips post (linked in the entry) — I almost always start my cakes days in advance and freeze the layers until I’m ready to assemble.

  37. Totally awesome, it looks amazing, another frosting idea! I absolutely loved your vanilla birthday cake, I made it for a fellow blogger who was getting married, it came at the perfect time!

  38. Susan

    The first thought that popped into my head when I read the recipe was.”hmmm, I bet this would be great as a base for a tiramisu cake” I see another did too!

    I’ve failed at genoise and haven’t tried a chiffon, but I’ve been looking them up since then to try and find a simple yellow/vanilla recipe. The chiffon cakes I’ve found are made in a tube pan (and almost all are citrus flavored too.) I haven’t seen any online that use layerr cake pans. Did the center do okay for you in this recipe? Did the layers appear to shrink much? Frankly, After the genoise frisbee I made, I’m scared of cakes that are leavened with whipped eggs. I need to get over this. I’d like to try your cake. (and try it in tiramisu)

    1. deb

      Susan — Neither of mine shrunk a lot. The recipe encourages you not to whip the whites until stiff, but until they hold soft peaks. Huntsman says the stiff ones can cause more shrinking; it was the first time I’d read this but I will definitely do it this way again.

      Diane — Huntsman, as I noted in the recipe, advises against instant espresso because she feels it can be too bitter, so I didn’t try it. Doesn’t mean that you should not, or perhaps try brewing some crazy-strong coffee. Let us know how it goes.

  39. Diane

    Goodness Deb, You’ve done it again! Alex must’ve had the best birthday ever! Its taking all of my sanity to not tackle my computer screen in thinking I can actually eat the picture. lol

    I was wondering, w/ the espresso: for someone who does not have an espresso machine, could I subsitute it for coffee or even instant espresso powder (if there is such a thing:S)?

  40. Oh dear god, that looks so phenomenally delicious… I think I’m drooling on my laptop right now. Chocolate + Coffee is a match made in heaven, in my opinion. I’ve got a question about the Cappuccino Chiffon Cake variation: the whipped cream with which you frost the cake – is it REALLY 3 cups of cream to one cup of sugar? I make sweetened whipped cream all the time as cake frosting, but that ratio seems ridiculously sweet. I usually add only between a teaspoon or tablespoon per cup of cream, depending on how sweet I want it. A whole cup of sugar? I’m scared!! :-)

    1. deb

      Abbey — I had the same reaction. It sounds crazy sweet but I haven’t tried that version and … OH LOOK AT THAT. I mistyped. Jeez. It’s 1/3 cup, I’ll fix it now. Thanks for making me finally get up recheck my typing.

  41. Charlotte

    Deb, Does this cake freeze well? I have to make some cakes for a friend who want to freeze them and take out as needed. Which cakes freeze well? Thanks.

  42. You’re thisclose to giving this man a baby, and he gets a beautiful birthday cake? Lucky better half. A happy happy day to him, now go and put your feet up.

  43. deb

    Charolotte — I respond to a question about freezing in comment #83. I freeze cake layers all of the time, well wrapped, for days. I don’t freeze finished cakes. I simple frost and fill them when I’m ready to use them, or the day before. You should also read my cake tips post for more advice.

  44. Wendy

    I thought I had decided to make the Sky High Black Forest cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, but I think you just convinced me otherwise. How does this fudge frosting compare to the Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting on your best birthday cake? He loves chocolate, but he’s not a fan of overly sweet buttercreams.

  45. Susan

    Thanks for the soft peak egg white tip. I probably would have overridden that instruction because of all the recipes out there that call for stiff whipped whites.

    Hey..have you tried the tip about using a melted marshmallow to stablize whipped cream from the good bite chef? I’m so intrigued by that. It would be a boon for cakes that use whipped cream for frosting.

  46. Wow. I want to eat this cake so much! But most of my friends don’t like coffee, so it would just have to be me eating it all by my lonesome.

    So, do you think given how much you love lemon (and how much I love lemon) that it would be reasonable to replace the espresso with fresh squeezed lemon juice and the syrup with lemon juice and zest? Then I could make the cake anyway!

  47. Dawn in CA

    Deb, this looks delicious. I have become addicted to cake-making over the last couple of years. Any excuse to make a homemade cake, I’m there! I even baked my own birthday cake… sort of a present to myself, although hubby and friends loved it, too. AND, I am happy to say that I finally conquered the swiss meringue buttercream. Hooray!

    I had to read the comments to figure out that if you whip the egg whites too much, the cake will shrink. Your recipe warns readers, “do not whip until stiff or the cake will SHIRK excessively….” For a minute, I thought that was a new baking term I’d never heard of. Ha! ;) Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks!

  48. deb,
    so glad to hear that you liked the chiffon cake and frosting recipes. i feel honored to have helped with your other half’s birthday celebration. that frosting method is one of my favorites too. as a professional pastry chef working in an extremely busy restaurant, it’s quite possible that i will try to find a quick method but as a busy working mom, it’s guaranteed that i will find a shortcut. congrats on the pregnancy and good luck!
    alisa huntsman

  49. Anastasia

    Saw this recipe and absolutely had to bake it. . . and did. It is AH-MAZING. The perfect blend of coffee and chocolate— and I admit, I am not the biggest fan of buttercream but this icing! Haven’t been able to stop eating it! YUM.

  50. Vicki in GA

    Another variation: Fill between layers with light and creamy Orange Mousse. I’ve made similar cake and frosted with ganache.

  51. Ryan

    Seanna – In addition to Deb’s suggestions, I would also heartily recommend the Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake recipe from the Sky High Cookbook. I made it recently, and it was the best lemon cake I’ve ever had. The cake was light, bright, and lemony, the filling was bracingly sour, and the frosting is tart, but sweet enough to tie the whole thing together. If you love lemon, do yourself a favor and make that recipe.

  52. gimletgirl

    When I saw this oh-so-perfect cake for my friend’s birthday, I thought:
    Could it be? The timing is about right…. Has it been exactly one year since the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, and exactly two years since the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake?
    Of course it has. Perfect timing, Deb! Now I have her cake for this year – she likes coffee even more than peanut butter.
    And BTW – I also love the method of freezing before icing; it makes handling so much easier. It really helped with the very delicate chocolate cake made for last year’s celebration.

  53. Lipthink

    I’m not waiting for my birthday or any other special event…it will have to be a just-because-its-cake! Love it….(It goes with the rattatoue version of yours, of which two are in the oven baking as I type this!! omitted eggplant for turnips two because I’m to lazy and its over 105 today.)

  54. Dan

    Not sure if this counts as on-topic or not, but I’m totally in love with you Deb ;-) Every single post of yours has at least one sentence to make me laugh out loud. Someday I’ll come kidnap you and your wobbly head :D (or at least come raid your freezer)

  55. Amanda

    I am new ’round these parts (and to baking in general) and I have what I am afraid may be a stupid question:

    Do you have to refrigerate the cake after it has been frosted? My gut instinct was no, but the logical side of me thought about the dairy in the icing.

    I googled and didn’t find an answer I liked, sorry if this has been covered!

    I really love your site, so full of amazing recipes!!

    1. deb

      Depends on the ingredients of the cake, and how warm your kitchen is. The ingredients in this cake are room temperature stable, however, at least around these parts it is hot-hot-hot out (and stuffy in my kitchen) so we kept it in the fridge.

  56. I received this link via a friend who shared and all I can say is thank heavens he did! Deb the cake looks delicious and just devilish to say the least. I will be back. Not a baker my self but it does make me want to try ;-))

  57. Rachel

    This recipe was virtually foolproof. My oven wasn’t working so I made it in a toaster oven in one aluminum pan with high sides instead of three separate cakes and then I just cut it to make the different layers. I had a bunch of people coming over that night and it was a hit! Thanks for putting up these great recipes.

  58. Shayla

    Deb- This cake looks phenomenal! I will definitely be making it (probably for my baby shower next month). How do you think it would be without the rum? Or do you think that this is a small enough amount to really matter? I’m not sure, I just know I’m not supposed to have alcohol while pregnant! :) Any substitutions you could suggest? Thank you!

  59. Shayla

    Yikes! Sorry, guess I should have finished reading the recipe before posting. Please disregard my previous post about the rum substitution. Thanks for the recipe!

  60. Julia

    Hi Deb! I love your site; your recipes always look wonderful and your pictures are gorgeous.

    I tried to bake this cake on Saturday and it was a miserable failure. I didn’t think I overbeat the egg whites, but when I took the layers out of the oven, they shrank to about half their baked size and looked shriveled and horrible. However: it was about 95 degrees and humid in my kitchen. Could that have been a factor, or should I just turn in my apron?

  61. I made this cake for my husband’s birthday on Sunday, and it turned out perfectly! I did 1/2 the recipe, and baked it in a single 6-inch pan, then sliced the cake into three layers when it was cool. I was nervous about doing a big cake versus three small layers, but it worked like a dream. And I LOVED the icing in the food processor idea. So easy! I’ll be blogging about my cake soon. Thanks!

  62. Corianne

    Hi Deb,
    Thank you for another fantastic recipe! I made this for a party last weekend and it was a wonderfully tasty hit, even among non-coffee lovers.

  63. Elizabeth

    I have celiac disease so I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for the cake flour. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly and it was FANTASTIC! Served it to family members who aren’t gluten-free and they had no idea. The buttercream is seriously the best chocolate buttercream ever. I highly recommend trying the icing even if you have no desire to bake the cake. I think the next time I make it (yes, I’m already planning a repeat) I’m going to try another liquor, maybe Cointreau.

  64. Liz

    What ratio of sugar:cocoa:cream would you recommend if I were to make a chocolate whipped cream? I’m not a fan of thick buttercreams, and I love the sound of the Cappuccino Chiffon Cake, but I fear it isn’t… chocolate-y enough for my family’s liking.

  65. Sam

    This kind of relates to an older post, but I am commenting on the most recent layer cake figuring its more likely to be seen! Do you have any advice for slicing cake layers? I purchased a wire layer slicer (albeit the cheap $3 one not the $27 heavy duty one) and had some difficulty getting through the cake and keeping the edges nice and neat. The cake ended up a bit wonky (my fault for not evening the top) but still tasted good!

    Thanks!

  66. Debra

    Deb – ever made chocolate icing with margarine? This cake would be great for Rosh Hashana, but it’s got to be dairy free. If you (or anyone) has a good recipe for a non-dairy chocolate icing, please share!

  67. Lucy

    Longtime reader, first time commenter… made this cake for my partner’s birthday, slightly modified so it approached the tiramisu cake idea (he is a tiramisu freak and wanted tiramisu INSTEAD of cake, but I baulked because tiramisu is Not Birthday Cake)….substituted brandy for the rum, sweetened cream for the filling and ganache for the coating. I was worried about this from a structural perspective, but it worked great! Thanks for an awesome cake recipe.

  68. Shellward

    Great Match! I used this fudge frosting recipe with Deb’s Jacked-up Banana Bread recipe — cupcake style! Chocolate and bananas, what could be better? I also must say that any recipe where I can throw things into a food processor and they come out perfect makes me so happy :)
    (I will try this espresso cake recipe as written at a later time- the person who I am making the cupcakes for can’t have coffee.)

  69. Hi Deb,

    Question: What do you use to tint the frosting? I used those Wilton gels – I usually use them to tint frosting for gingerbread cookie icing, but it didn’t work out so well with buttercream. It started to separate a little. It didn’t look terrible, but it didn’t have the nice uniform look that the blue icing does on yours. Maybe I should have used ordinary food coloring?

    Anyway, this recipe is amazing. I made it for my boyfriend’s birthday last night, and he declared it the best thing I’ve ever made (and I’m a good baker!). It’s unbelievably rich and tasty. Thank you!!

  70. deb

    Hi Heather — I used liquid color, just a drop of blue, I think, but it came out more robin’s egg probably because the frosting was slightly yellowish from the vanilla. I know I’m supposed to like gel colors (I have a set) but I just can’t get into them — too hard to mix!

  71. Heather

    Thank you, Deb! I’m going to try that next time. I actually loved the contrast between the robin’s egg blue and the chocolate. And yeah, the gels take a ton of stirring to get rid of the streaks! P.S. Congrats on the new addition! He’s a cute one.

  72. Amber Leipner

    I made this yesterday for my husbands 1 year at his job. 90% men so this was a perfect cake for them. (german tradition to do so) OMG I was soo upset I didn’t make two. It smells and taste amazing! Thank you soo much I now have a new favorite cake;)

  73. Mary

    Oooh, I can’t even wait to make this for my birthday in two weeks. Do you think the cake needs the sweetness from the buttercream? Because I was thinking of subbing in the whipped bittersweet frosting from the almond raspberry cake. I’ve made more smitten recipes than I can count, and they’ve all been incredible hits. Thanks for everything!!!

  74. Hi Deb! I meant to post this, oh more than a month ago, when I actually made the cake, but as the mom to seven-month-old son, I think you can relate to some things taking a back burner… so here is my story about your espresso chiffon cake…

    Knowing I like to find any excuse to bake, a while back my husband suggested that for our son’s Maxence (yes! like C&Z’s partner) six-month birthday on October 6 it would be neat to celebrate with a cake, but half a cake since he was going to be marking half a year. I came up with the idea to do a round cake but cut in half and arrange and frost the layers in a half-moon shape.

    I combed the web for recipe ideas and as happens more often than not these days, I found a recipe that spoke to me on your site. (As i write this actually, I am baking another of your recipes which spoke to me last night, your “mom’s apple cake”… mmmm heavenly scents coming from the kitchen)…

    Anyway, since I knew the cake would be consumed by adults (we are waiting until Max is one to let him dive head-first into cake) the espresso chiffon cake seemed like just the thing to please us. When I read about the variation, I became really torn, since both versions of the cake sounded so scrumptious! But I knew I wanted to stick with my husbands half-cake idea… So I pondered on it for a while and then had a brain wave: I would make the whole cake, cut it half and frost half with chocolate fudge frosting and half with the whipping cream, and make the writing white on chocolate, chocolate on white and play up the black (err, brown) and white effect. Instead of vanilla I used Kahula (coffee liqueur!) in the whipping cream, a neat trick I learned from my favourite American chef, Rick Bayless… it certainly seemed apropos to go with the espresso chiffon cake and the results were superb…

    I wanted to point you the results here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/riam/sets/72157622474069671/ particularly since you now have a son of your own who will be reaching the six month mark sooner than you can imagine (it goes by way too fast!) and it seems you could use an excuse to make more cake…

    Thanks for the brilliant and tasty recipes! The espresso chiffon cake recipe is a keeper…

  75. DG

    Made this over the weekend for my MIL’s birthday to great success! She requested something “lighter” and I thought a nice chifffon would fit the bill perfectly (though I don’t think the 3 sticks of butter required for the frosting necessarily qualifies this is as a moderate dessert!) I left out the cream of tartar and forgot the half cup of sugar added to the egg whites, but the layers came out beautifully nonetheless. In lieu of espresso, I also used some very strong coffee, which worked quite well. Truly a delight! Thanks, Deb!

  76. Rachel

    I just made the frosting right now, to frost some cupcakes I made this am, and I swear that I will never make chocolate frosting another way again! Absolutely amazing. Tks!

  77. Becky

    I made this cake this weekend for hubby’s birthday. The cake was light, delicious and the coffee flavor was perfect. Like you, Deb, I will never again make my chocolate buttercream another way! The processor produced super-spreadable and -pipable frosting. Hubby remarked it looked like I purchased it at a fine bakery. Great recipe, great results! Thank you.

  78. N.

    Argh, I wish I had found this recipe before I made mine and my husband’s birthday cakes/cupcakes! I too had thought of some sort of syrup to soak in, but couldn’t figure out the logistics! Next time I’m going to try this one.

  79. Alice

    I was searching for an easy chocolate frosting and came upon your “Instant Fudge Frosting.” I made it over the weekend to frost my son’s chocolate birthday cake. It was soooo good, and super easy. The food processor technique was easy, but I did have to add a little more milk than the recipe called for to get it loosened up. My butter was nice and soft, but it was initially way too thick. I’m sure it varies from batch to batch (and maybe based upon the heat in your kitchen), so I just kept adding dribbles of milk until it suddenly loosened up and came together. Delicious!

  80. Travels4Food

    The flavor of this icing was phenomenal, but it kind of “seized,” even though I used confectioner’s sugar – it got grainy. Any idea why? I didn’t wait for the chocolate to cool completely before I added it to the butter, and the butter may have been a little bit colder than room temperature but not by much.

    1. deb

      Graininess can often come from chocolate that has burned a little while melting. If the grittiness tastes like delicious bits of chocolate (and not weird grit, as it would if it had burned), however, it is because the chocolate seized at some point.

  81. Nadia

    I’ve got a tried and tested orange chiffon cake recipe (same basic ingredients as this one except it has 2 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 cup oil). But your recipe has given me inspiration for variations I can try, e.g., substituting the orange juice and zest in mine with the espresso and MAYBE a drop or two of almond essence, then baking the whole thing in a bundt tin and drizzling chocolate glaze over on top.

  82. Elisa

    Hey, I think I need help. I’m making this for my birthday (next Wednesday) but the frosting really makes me rise my eyebrows – over a kilo of powdered sugar? Really? It seems like the frosting has nothing but sugar. Maybe it isn’t as sweet as it sounds – I’m not used of making American desserts, anyway… But the cake sounds amazing. Thank you.

  83. Elisa

    Hey, and also – I don’t have three cake pans the same size. I have a few, but they’re all diffrently shaped – it would be weird if one layer was shaped as a a star, one as a heart, etc. So, can I just bake one layer,take it off the pan, then bake another and so? Or will the consistency of the batter suffer because of the waiting?

    I’m starting to bake today or tomorrow, so I would love if you could answer very soon. :) Love from Finland and lots of virtual carrots to Jacob!

    -Elisa

  84. Elisa

    It turned out awesome, thank you! :) I had the last of it for breakfast this morning. I was soon feeling refreshed, though I had only taken one sip of my actual coffee. (And I maybe felt a bit tipsy, too. My kind of cake!)

  85. Liz

    Hey Deb….why not grease the pans? Also, I scanned this at least three times looking for the Jacob link before I realized that *duh* he wasn’t born yet. Can’t you go back and sneak him into the archives? ;-)

    1. deb

      Chiffon cakes, for whatever reason, don’t need it. In fact, 100% of chiffon cake recipes I’ve seen always say specifically not to!

  86. Char

    Hi Deb, I made the Cappuccino Chiffon variation… with another slight variation… for a friend’s birthday this week. Instead of the sweetened whipped cream suggested in your post, I used a white chocolate whipped cream frosting and decorated the top edge with a border of chocolate-covered espresso beans. The recipe for the frosting comes from the April 2004 Bon Appetit; it’s the frosting in their recipe for Lemon Pistachio Crunch Cake. I’ve never made the full cake, but I’ve used the frosting many times. It’s not stiff enough for piping flowers (and I’ve never tried tinting it), but I have managed to get a recognizable piped border out of it.

    What I really like about this frosting is that it’s not super-sweet, it’s got a lighter flavour and texture than a quick buttercream, and the chocolate seems to give the whipped cream added structure/hold time, so I can frost a cake one day and as long as it stays refrigerated, it’ll still be great the next day. I think a 7-minute Seafoam Frosting might also work as another alternative (see Joy of Cooking for one example – I think the brown sugar in the Seafoam frosting would complement the espresso nicely).

    Thanks for posting the cake recipe — I held onto it for months, knowing it was the perfect cake for my extra-caffeinated friend. I’ve already had requests to make it again. :)

  87. Rachel

    Just thought I’d share that having learned that my cuisniart broke (after 15 years), I put everything in a bowl and beat it with a hand beater, and it came out just fine. Delicious recipe, and still so easy.

  88. Katie

    Wow — yum! I am absolutely NEVER making another chocolate frosting other than this one. SO delicious and easy to make. Thanks a million!!!

  89. Mikki

    Hi Deb, I was just wondering..I just made this frosting for another cake (plain sponge cake) and would like to know if i frost the cake this afternoon then leave it in the fridge until tomorrow night, will it be ok? and how long before serving would you take it out? otherwise i suppose i could just put the frosting on tomorrow… I’ve never put one of my cakes in the fridge before hence the uncertainty. Thanks

  90. sandra

    awsome! one more question- in the directions you say bake for 18 minutes each. do you recommend baking each one layer on its own, one at a time, or does it not matter?

  91. sandra

    i just baked the layers for about 20 minutes and the toothpick came out completely clean, so i took them out of the oven. however, when they cooled, the centers sank a lot. are they underbaked?

  92. Amy D

    quick question( if you have a moment between chasing the cutest peanut there is-his hair always makes me smile- and cooking all this amazing food you tell us about) I am going to make this for my mom’s b-day, but want to do it a bit ahead, you talk about freezing cakes in a few different places, did you freeze this one? if you didn’t do you think it will freeze ok?

  93. Wendy C

    I made this cake this morning for my husband’s aunt birthday. It is already gone! Delicious! I usually make the Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe (on the back of the box) for b-days, but decided to take a walk on the wild side. It was thoroughly enjoyed by nine of us. As per the recipe, the layers baked in 18 minutes, and the frosting was great.

  94. Dear Deb,
    We made two of these cakes for our 25 person food coop yesterday. They disappeared in a flash! As devoted small kitchen cooks ourselves, We LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. And use your recipes all the time for dishes/baked goods that make us extremely popular among our college friends. Thank you!!!
    Mila&Helene

  95. Nikki

    I don’t have a food processor and can’t get one right now. My daughter really wants your Pink Lady cake with a dark chocolate icing (she doesn’t like cream cheese, crazy girl!) and this icing sounds perfect, but no food processor. Can I just whip it up in the Kitchenaide Blender?

  96. Natalie

    Hi Deb-My friend and I are making this this weekend for her husband’s birthday (SO excited!). When you make your frosting in a food processor do you use the regular blade, or do you use the dough blade? Thanks!!

  97. Jenny

    Deb- Just wanted to report back that the frosting freezes beautifully! I thawed it in the fridge and then brought it to room temperature before giving a quick stir to ensure everything was smooth. I transfered it to a piping bag for topping some buttermik-orange cupcakes with a cranberry-orange filling, nice a tart to offset the sweet frosting! Happy Baking:)

  98. Marie

    This looks stunning! Now I’m in a dilemma; I LOVE chocolate (the fudge frosting sounds amazing) but I also really like the sound of that cappuccino whipped cream variation … Do you think it would work to make the fudge frosting a filling between the layers and the whip cream to frost the top? Or would a ganache be better between the layers? Or would that just be overkill? :/ Thanks, Deb, so much for your delicious recipes and delightful posts!

  99. Ella

    I have only recently discovered your website and I absolutely love it! This is the best food blog I’ve come across. For my Dad’s birthday yesterday, my sister and I made him this cake. I really enjoyed making it as it was quite a different method to other cakes. Everyone loved it, and despite being so large it is already nearly finished! I now can’t wait till the next special occasion so I have an excuse to try another one of your cakes!!

  100. Becca (she bakes)

    Hello!

    I made this minus the espresso (I know, I know, crazy coffee haters) for a holiday and was so impressed with the quality of the cake that I used the cake again for a different birthday cake base. Instead of 6T of espresso, I used 4T of water and 2T of vanilla (left out the 2tsp). The cakes tasted lovely and were a perfect base to the caramel filling and vanilla buttercream frosting I used. This has become my go-to cake for when I need a nice-tasting, not-too-rich cake base when I want then filling/frosting to be the star.

  101. Christina

    Ah, Deb, you come through for me again! My dad is totally getting this for his birthday next Friday. He’s a mocha addict, so a coffee cake sounds perfect. But your idea of swapping out the whipped cream for fudge frosting will satisfy his one request of “CHOCOLATE” (Sounds like you’re familiar with the type).

    I’m digging the relative simplicity of this recipe. Not that my dad doesn’t deserve a 14-layer tour-de-force on his 70th(!!!) birthday, but he lives some 350 miles away and it’ll be a victory of my organizational skills if I manage to get there without forgetting my frosting tips and offset spatula.

  102. Shanti

    What is the best way to apply a syrup like this if you don’t have a pastry brush? Would a paper towel work? Or should I just suck it up and buy a brush?

  103. Claudia

    I made this as written with whipped cream in the Sky High Cakes book- it was fantastic. The cake was wonderfully, subtly flavoured. I doubled the recipe and made 4 8-inch cakes and a few 4-inch mini cakes to keep in the freezer just in case a cake emergency comes up!

    I will definitely make this again!

  104. alexandra

    Mine turned out very thin. almost like pancakes yet still tasty? are they suppose to be that thin? If not, where did I go wrong Anyone know?

  105. Sarah

    My dear, I am known for my desserts. I needed a coffee flavored cake for a friends birthday and stumbled upon this recipe. IT WAS FABULOUS!! I found a real mocha buttercream and used the cake exactly as written and I thought I was back in Europe or at least at the now defunct Dumas French bakery in NYC.
    The cake was moist, light, and incredible. The entire 3 layer cake was almost devoured by our table of 6 adults and when we dug our forks in, you could hear a pin drop. I keep trying to think of another need to remake the cake!

    Thank-you! I look forward to trying many of your other recipes.

  106. Wes

    I have not tried this fab-looking cake, but did just make the Best Birthday Cake Ever for my daughter’s 16th (sob) birthday and used this frosting to frost it.

    Maybe (quite possibly) I am the only person on the planet without a food processor, but I wanted to pass along my discovery that the frosting can be made in a stand mixer. It worked great, and I could not BELIEVE I had made actual homemade fluffy buttercream frosting! I make a great fudge frosting that I use on brownies, but it’s too heavy for cake so I am thrilled to know how to make another kind.

    Thanks Deb!!

  107. Stephanie S.

    Deb,

    Finally not lurking any longer! I just had to tell you that combining this buttercream recipe with your sour cream chocolate cake recipe is my go-to for my son’s birthday cakes. The cake always stands up so well to decorating while staying moist, and this buttercream is so chocolatey. He always requests something off the wall (a monster truck rally, a dirt bike track, a dinosaur diorama with erupting volcano, etc.) and that cake with this buttercream is so reliable I don’t think I will ever be able to give them up. Very predictable results and decadent to boot. Thanks so much for bringing them both to my attention. They make my life so much easier in July!

  108. rose

    deb. oh deb. master of my frosting-in-a-food-processor universe. i had never considered making frosting that way and then, just as you said it would, it came together in no time…whirling around in 10 seconds flat.
    clearly i am smitten in this kitchen.
    thanks for sharing! i topped your perfect yellow cake with this easy as pie buttercream and its just sinful.
    as always, many thanks – just love love love your blog, recipes and writing style.

  109. Marilou Garon

    In case anyone reads comments 2 years after the post! I just wanted to say that I only made the frosting recipe, for my son’s birthday cake. I decided to halve the recipe, but forgot to cut the chocolate quantity in half. I therefore ended up making half as much frosting, with twice the amount of non-sweet chocolate… and it was EXQUISITE! Not too strong at all for kids, not too sweet either, very smooth and velvety. The best and easiest chocolate frosting I’ve made. Thank you!

  110. EmilyB

    my boyfriend loves coffee. would you recommend this cake over your tiramisu cake for a coffee lover? Or maybe the layers and syrup from this cake with the marscapone filling from the tiramasu cake?

    1. deb

      EmilyB — Yes. The consistent complaint from the Tiramisu Cake (which I promise to rework one day) is that there isn’t enough syrup. This cake has a ton. So, you could use these layers and volume of syrup with that recipe or you could just make this, which will please any chocolate-addicted tiramisu-head.

  111. Bunny

    Hey Deb!
    Can I replace, say, 1/3 cup of the flour with cocoa for a chocolate chiffon cake, or is the ingredients’ balance too delicate to mess with?

  112. Bunny

    Oh, and how come your sides look so pretty and uniform?
    Whenever I bake chiffon cakes, mine always immediately shrink as they are out of the oven [soft-peaks whites or stiff; they both seem unanimous] and then they get all raggedy. Is it because you use non-stick pans? [do you?]
    I use magic-line aluminum pans.

  113. Quinn

    Hi Deb, I made the buttercream frosting to pair with your perfect birthday cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday and all 20 guests absolutely loved this frosting!!! I used ghirardelli chocolate as that was the best aailabe at pathmart that day, and the frosting was more of a coffee color- I think if I made it again I would double the chocolate like Marilou- if just for a deeper color. Yum.

  114. Jenny

    Instant Fudge Frosting perfect on the Best Yellow Layer Cake. If this is your dream combo, you will love!!!

    @Cecilia: Yep. Worked like a charm. Just make sure it’s cooled.

  115. Michelle

    I just made this with minor changes as a surprise for my husband and we both think it’s absolutely delish. Because I only own two short pans, I halved the batter and made two cake layers. Also, I combined the frosting by hand and I used strong coffee in lieu of espresso. Nevermind. It was fantastic and I will definitely be making this again in the future for everyone I know. Love this and your Best Birthday Cake recipe! Now I’m gonna browse the archives for some more gems. What can I say. I have never made a recipe of yours that I didn’t love. Thank you!

  116. ceri

    I used quality chocolate 70% however, I still found the frosting over sweet and gritty, buttercream isnt my favourite. Seems to spoil it.

  117. kate

    hey! do you think i could make this in a 9×13 instead of the circles? i am making a cake for a graduation party, and i was hoping for something like this with chocolate and coffee flavors. any suggestions are welcome!

    1. deb

      Hi Kate — I think so but I know that chiffons can be trickier in a 9×13. Even imperfect, however (I think there will be a greater tendency for it to dip in the middle), nobody will care. This cake is very, very good for coffee and chocolate lovers.

  118. becks

    Thanks for this! I made it for my mom’s birthday and was a hit. I left out the sugar in the buttercream and used dark chocolate chips – and also toasted some coconut which got added between the layers (all 7 of them!) and sprinkled on the sides. Again thanks, I loved how the espresso flavor really came through

  119. the cake looks decadent and I will be making it this weekend..for no apparent reason other than I like to eat! I plan to make the cake ahead and freeze it. Do you recommend soaking the cake in the espresso syrup and then freezing it, or freezing just the cake, let the cake thaw, and then soak and frost? (does that defeat the purpose of freezing? :)

    Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

  120. Shelley

    Hello! I’m planning to use this fudge frosting on chocolate cupcakes, but would like the frosting to have a coffee flavor. Do you think swapping the vanilla for espresso would make a strong enough coffee flavor? Or is there a different recipe you’d recommend?

  121. erika

    duh. these type of cakes are meant to be dry just so they can take all the extra flavor of syrups and wet filling like fruit purees.

  122. Stefanie

    Hi Deb, I only have two 9-inch round cake pans – do you think this would work with just two layers (should I make less batter?) or should I do two rounds of baking to get three layers? Thanks!

    Love this frosting by the way (I especially love how easily it comes together) – I used it on your best birthday cake a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit! Now it’s another friend’s birthday (who loves coffee), so I’d love to try this cake.

  123. Stefanie

    Me again – I realized I do have a 9 inch springform. Would that work for the third layer, or is it better to stick with identical pans to make layers?

    1. deb

      Stefanie — No reason not to use it but it some trimming may be in order so that the three layers neatly match. Even when you use the same matching baking pans, trimming is needed so I wouldn’t sweat it.

  124. Kellyn

    Oh…confession time. I never bake and when I do it’s always out of the box (I know..shame, shame). However, I wanted to make my mom a special birthday cake and ventured on to the internet to see what I could find. Two of my mother’s favorite things…espresso and chocolate. I immediately stumbled upon this recipe and thought I would give it a whirl as my first sans-box cake making extravaganza. Hats off to you for making the recipe easy to understand for a beginner like me. I only had two 8×8 square pans to use, and they worked just fine. The cakes didn’t rise as much as I was hoping for, but I think they will work. And that frosting…YUM! Tomorrow is the big day! I hope it is approved by my family’s palate! Thanks for your help!

    1. deb

      Row — Yeah… I am doubtful. Roll cakes are a very specific formula, usually high in egg, low in flour, that leaves them soft and bendy for a while. To approximate this flavor, I’d follow the recipe for a plain one and tweak the flavors, adding espresso and such. Good luck! (Oh, and will you please share? I love this idea. Hm, should I make it?…)

  125. Rachel

    Just wanted to share that I indeed used this espresso chiffon cake as the base for an awesome tiramisu cake. I doubled the sky high recipe and baked it in 2 9X13 rectangular pans, then doubled the old tiramisu cake frosting recipe to fill and frost. For syrup I stuck with the sky high one. It turned out great and fed a crowd…thanks Deb, good idea!

  126. Row

    Oooh, a challenge! I will try it, though with my excellent procrastination skills, it might take a couple of months (you’ll probably beat me to it!). I’ll play around with some recipes and will let you know if I get anywhere. Thanks for the tips! :)

  127. Caitlin

    Could I make this into a chocolate chiffon cake, for use in Black Forest cake, by swapping melted chocolate in for the brewed espresso? Or would it affect the texture? Or perhaps you could recommend a trustworthy chocolate chiffon cake recipe…

  128. Melanie G

    I know you posted this ages ago, but I just used this frosting on my husband’s birthday cake and it is *astonishing.* Definitely replacing my standard chocolate frosting with this one!

    My husband, who is one heck of a dish washer (and thank God for that), is even contemplating learning to make this frosting so he can eat it with a spoon ;-)

  129. Liz

    As I stand over the sink eating yet another swear-it’ll-be-the-last-sliver of leftover cake, I can honestly say I’m really only interested in the frosting. It’s amaze-balls. Just about the easiest frosting I’ve ever made and it’s perfection over a buttermilk cake, too. And I’m so glad it’s Friday afternoon since weekend calories don’t count.

  130. Bri

    How can I make this if I don’t have an espresso maker? Will instant espresso work? Obviously it won’t be as authentic, but will it still have the flavor?

  131. Gal Steiner

    Made this for my husband’s birthday party and it was a hit. Absolutely delicious! However, I was only able to get two layers out of the batter (maybe because I used 9″ round pans). The espresso-rum-sugar syrup was fantastic between the layers, and the frosting was so easy in the food processor. I will definitely make this again. Thank you!

  132. Caitlin

    Hi Deb,

    Made this cake last week and it was a hit with the fam! I’m wondering: could you just pour the cake batter into muffin tins to make cupcakes? My boys are really into cupcakes these days, and these would make delicious and lovely cupcakes, but I’m not sure if I should adjust the recipe in any way.

    Thanks!

  133. So, I needed a frosting to go with a raspberry cupcake that I am doing for a valentines day party. I am making a test batch today because I don’t want it to be the night before the party and I discover that something is gross with my recipe… anyways… I found this frosting recipe and I was thinking “oh, ok, another chocolate butter cream, this will work I guess…” and then there was the bit about the food processor, and I thought, oh great, this might be a mess…. but hey, I got a processor for Christmas so lets give it a whirl. And now…. now…. I had to STOP.. the frosting is sitting in my processor still… so that I could come tell you that you have given me the BEST BEST BEST gift anyone could have given me. The easiest way to make frosting, and the MOST AMAZING chocolate frosting anyone could ever hope for. I will be making the cake part of this for my husbands birthday, partially so I will get to do the frosting again soon. But I know the moms in my moms group who will be having these cupcakes are going to just keel over in glee. This is fan-friggin’-tastic!

  134. VC

    Hi Deb,
    I want to make this cake for my son’s birthday. BUT HE LOVES STRAWBERRIES. I want to add fresh strawberries and/or fresh strawberry filling to this cake between the layers. COULD YOU TELL ME how to incorporate it ????

  135. Jen

    HELP!! I am making this with your best birthday cake recipe. I have semi-sweet chips or milk chocolate disks and no time to get unsweetened chocolate…can I use one of these instead??? Thanks!

  136. Kaitlin L.

    Do you think I can make this cake with the sour cream frosting from the Best Birthday Cake? Would the flavor of the cake and the espresso glaze be alright with the tartness/sourness of that icing?

    1. deb

      Kaitline — There’s no rule that you can’t. I do think that with this cake being on the bitter side and that frosting being on the sour (slightly) and bitter (slightly) side it might be a little clashy but I also don’t think anyone will complain. And if they do, more cake for you!

  137. Stefanie

    This is an awesome cake! In fact amaze-balls!!!!!
    My co-worker baked it for my office bday party. This may have to be my new birthday cake.

  138. Nisha

    I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and wow it came out really good!!! :-) So i thank you for all the praises i got… really.. i got loads of them.. yaaay!
    The color of the frosting didn’t have the same color – it came out a lot lighter from what i see in ur pics.. is it because of the difference in chocolate used and should/can i add more chocolate??

  139. kate

    This cake is utterly amazing! I’ve had the Sky High book in my Amazon cart for way too long. This cake finally prompted me to buy it. I made a few variations and was so pleased with how it came out. I used 7″ cake pans so I could tort each and create a 6 layer cake. I made the vanilla version of the espresso syrup. At first it was too sweet for my taste so I added in more espresso until it was balanced. I lightly brushed each layer because the cake was surprisingly moist on its own. I’d say I only used half of the syrup. Then I used the instant fudge frosting to fill each layer. But having made it several times before I know how rich it can be so for that reason I also went light – only 1/4″ per layer. I didn’t spread it too thin though and left a half inch border at the edge. That’s because I used the whipped cream frosting to ice the outside of the cake. I dusted the top with cocoa powder and piped a top/bottom border in fudge. It came out great! The cake was so tender and had this wonderful hint of espresso and cinnamon. And the combination of the two frostings was the perfect balance. I think using all fudge frosting would have been too much for me but to each their own! The whipped cream made this a true cappuccino cake. I did not stabilize it and it was fine setting up in the frig for about 6 hours – no weeping. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful creation. I can’t wait to get my copy of Sky High and make some more amazing layer cakes!

  140. Sarah

    Hi,

    I’m making this now but I want to freeze the cake and finish tomorrow. Do I put the liquid on first and then freeze or do I freeze and put the liquid on when I finish tomorrow?

    Thanks! The batter tasted insanely good!

    Yum!

  141. Call Me Al

    My egg whites and cream of tartar mixture looks absolutely NOTHING like the picture. What am I doing wrong? My guess would be I didn’t whip it for long enough, but I was afraid to over do it. For the future, and for the baking challenged, could you add the amount of time it “should” take to do something like that? I don’t have a good instinct for this :-( Hope it turns out good….

    1. deb

      Al — It shouldn’t take very long with electric beaters. By hand, it can take a little while. If they didn’t whip at all, the issue may have been not using a super-clean bowl or beaters or having a little yolk that got into the egg whites.

  142. KM

    This looks perfect for my husband’s 30th birthday party, but as there will be about 25 of us, I’ll need to go bigger. How could I convert this recipe to make a layered cake in a 9 x 13 rectangular pan? I tend to ruin cakes, so I’m paranoid about trying to figure this out on my own with one of the billion websites that offers advice on such conversions. Thanks for any tips!

  143. Hillary

    Another great cake deb! Made this for my friend’s 30th with a frangelico buttercream, it was verrry well received. There’s something so warming about espresso that’s great for a cold evening. Thanks!

  144. Frosting question! I’m planning to make your best birthday cake as cupcakes with this frosting, but should I make a full recipe of frosting? It seems like awfully a lot for the 22-24 cupcakes that recipe should produce. (Of course, there are bigger tragedies than extra frosting…)

    1. deb

      Teresa — Good question because I’ve halfway done the math… let me see, I made cupcakes for my son’s birthday in September, different recipe, yielded 32. I found that a 2/3 volume of this frosting was way more than was needed for 32. I felt that a 1/2 volume would have been better for 32. So, for 22 to 24, you might even be able to 1/3 it. If you’re nervous, you could halve it but I’m pretty sure you’ll have extra if you do. Gosh, I’m glad I take obsessive notes sometimes.

  145. Deb,

    My Mom assigned me dessert for Christmas so I turned to you, queen of party cakes. I didn’t have a third cake pan and I’m traveling with this so I turned it into a roulade, make the whipped cream frosting for the inside, frosted it with the chocolate, which is delicious and I ate too much already. It’s sitting in the frig ready for tomorrow. It looks fabulous. Thanks.

  146. M

    I made this for my birthday and it is SO good! The cake is just delicious, as is the soaking syrup. I used bourbon instead as I had no rum. I don’t drink and the soaking syrup was good, the taste of the alcohol didn’t bother me. Next time I will reduce the sugar in the frosting, as I thought it was too sweet (I did use 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate). Such a great birthday cake. Thank you Deb! Thank you so much!

  147. Julia

    In the chaos leading up to my son’s 4th birthday party I didn’t scour the comments long enough to see the discussion with Teresa about frosting volumes. I made triple the Best Birthday Cake recipe – and got one beautiful layer cake and a little over 50 delicious cupcakes. I doubled the Fudge Frosting recipe and have A LOT left over. How long will it keep, refrigerated? Any suggestions on what I should bake to use it up?

  148. Alice

    This frosting recipe has become my go-to for chocolate birthday cakes. So easy and simple, but delicious! Always gets rave reviews.

  149. Lauren

    This is one of my new favorite cakes! I doubled the recipe and made a glorious 6-layer stunner that tasted as good as it looked. I had a big crowd to feed — about 25 — and it made the perfect amount. Someone said it reminded them of a chocolate tiramisu. And oh my goodness, making the frosting in the food processor is a game-changer — genius! This cake’s a keeper, folks. All hail, Deb!

  150. J.M.

    Hi Deb, I made the cake layers and it was wonderful; exactly what I was looking for, and I was looking for something very specific (made the cake layers as written, but assembled it with different fillings and frosting to recreate a “mocha” cake that is very popular within the Persian community here and sold in our local Middle Eastern bakeries) – it was so moist and flavorful, a hit at the party, thank you!

  151. J.M.

    It’s me again; my daughter has requested a vanilla cake with caramel mousse filling for her birthday. I love the texture of this cake and would like to use it, but I obviously don’t want the espresso flavor. I’m going to try replacing the espresso with milk (I’ve seen milk in KAF chiffon recipes and a few other places). I’ll let you know how it goes! I really hope it works!+

  152. Pam P

    Hi Deb! Just want to share that I made this cake this past weekend for my mother’s 80th birthday and while it was a daunting task for this non-baker, it turned out AMAZING and was a huge hit!! Thank you again and again for being a source of wonderful recipes and for being an excellent cooking coach for me! :)

  153. Radha

    I plan to make this cake this weekend and have just one question: I don’t have an espresso machine and rather than run to the coffee shop to get a shot I was wondering if a substitute with instant coffee might work, and if so what proportion of water / coffee would you recommend? It may not be perfect but unless it ruins it completely I wouldn’t mind trying it. Thanks so much! Fingers crossed!

  154. Mira

    Hi Deb! Is Sky High out of print now? I was hoping to buy a copy on Amazon for a friend as a gift, but it looks like the new copies have gone waaay up in price since I bought mine, and even the used copies are selling for a minimum of $40. Any chance you know where I could find a copy at a reasonable price these days??

    1. deb

      Mira — It might be. Cookbooks don’t stay in print forever, and I’m not sure it was ever a bestseller or the type that’s more likely to. In NYC, I go to Bonnie Slotnick for all of my used cookbook needs. She tends to focus more on older books and classics, but it’s worth giving her a call (you’ll speak to Bonnie herself, and she’s the loveliest). The Strand, a huge all-topic used bookstore also in my neighborhood, might be worth investigating. And you never know when a Barnes and Noble or the like might have one lingering in stock; you can often check stock online.

  155. Becca Anne

    Bless you, deb, for this recipe. It’s been one of those weeks and eating day-old slices of this cake while trying to cram in a few more hours of homework makes everything just a little bit better. I’ve made this cake many times and I think I’ll make it until I die.

    Also, it totally is better on the second day :)

  156. david

    Love the site, love the recipes:the comments not so much!
    Deb, can the comments be edited a bit (or a whole lot)? There is lots of chatter about “what a delish recipe this seems to be!!!” , “I’m planning to make this for a birthday” “this sure looks like what I want.” It would be more helpful to us cooks if people would discuss the merits and demerits of a recipe, as Epicurious reviewers do, so we can learn.
    For example, this made a great cake BUT it shrank and fell so much in two 9″ pans that I had to re-do the *#&*! recipe a second time which really sucked eggs if you know what I mean. Three 8″ pans did the same collapse and fall down routine starting from a rise of 1″ above the edge to 1/2″ below. (Oven temps were good and the whites not overbeaten and stiff.)
    I evened out the layers’ edges and frosted with the perfectly not-too-sweet buttercream and had a smashing cake. I should have used the whole 1 cup of imbibing syrup but was afraid (needlessly) of sogginess. I don’t think two 9″ rounds would make the correct sized cake but three 8″ did well. How’s about some real reviews of the recipe and less talk,talk, talk about not much at all.

  157. Samantha

    Hi,

    Is there any way I could leave out the cream of tartar or substitute it with, say, vinegar or cornflour? (I assume it’s in there to stabilise the egg whites?) I live in Germany and have no idea a) what the German equivalent of cream of tartar is, or b) where to find it, assuming it exists…

    Thanks!!

  158. CJ

    If I wanted to use a nespresso capsule for the espresso in this recipe, how would I do that? Should I just make one shot and dilute it to get the right amounts? Or should I use as many shots as would be necessary without diluting? Thanks!! Super excited to try this recipe!

  159. deb

    CJ — I’m sadly not familiar with them at all. But if it makes a shot of espresso, no reason not to use it instead. I’d make what you need to get to 1/3 cup for maximum flavor — maybe just 2 shots?

  160. Christina

    @Samantha: cream of tartar is known as Weinstein in German, you can get it in pharmacies (although it seems to be quite expensive). It’s not to be confused with Weinstein baking powder, which you’ll find in bigger supermarkets/organic shops.

  161. Supraja

    Hi Deb,

    I’ve got to say I absolutely love your recipes, especially this one. I’ve been using this recipe for almost all birthdays, beginning a year or two ago. I want to bake this again for my son’s birthday, but I need to make a cake big enough to for 28 people. So I’m thinking of a sheet cake. Any idea or suggestions whether I would need to double this recipe or triple it?? If you could comment on that, it would be so so helpful! Thanks;!!!

    1. deb

      Supraja — Thank you. I’m glad you’re enjoying the cake. I would double it. It will make a 3-layer cake of about the same thickness. And then please invite me over. :)

  162. Elizabeth

    Deb,
    I’ve been following you for years, have your book and like to think we’re neighbors (EV resident for almost 10 years.) I think of you at the farmers market and thank you tremendously when you try to limit the number of dishes used in a recipe as we are still heroically hand washing all dishes.
    Last week was a big birthday weekend and I committed to our niece’s 2nd birthday cake (and also cupcakes, her request) as well as my husband’s. I planned both the Pink Lady and Espresso Chiffon cakes. I was all prepped by the week before with a small practice batches under my belt.
    Then, Monday, I’m pretty sure I saw you on my walk to the office (wearing a snuggly, with your new addition and a coffee in toe.) I had to hold back from disturbing your morning and yelling, “I’m baking two of your cakes this weekend!!!” So I just quietly accepted it as a good omen. Then Thursday, I saw Martha getting out of a car on Broadway. Now, I’ve definitely made more of your recipes than hers, but felt that the baking gods were on my side.
    The pink lady cake and cupcakes were a huge hit (kids and adults), and I used raspberry purée to dye some icing. It was quite a spectacle (thanks to you and NY Cake). And we’re still happily eating leftovers of the espresso chiffon cake every night. Not sure I’ll ever be able to make a cake again without that syrup.
    Sorry for the long comment but clearly this is my first time writing and felt the need to go into detail. Thanks for all of your amazing recipes, fun stories and I look forward to seeing you around the ‘hood! Thank you thank you thank you for what you do!

    1. deb

      Elizabeth — No way! I suppose other people walk around this neighborhood in the same getup but I bet it was indeed me. School drop-off at 8:30, coffee in hand usually by 8:40. :) Please say hi next time. We don’t bite. (Well, Anna doesn’t have teeth anyway.) I hope the cakes were a hit.

  163. Hi Deb, I am going to make this frosting with your best yellow cake this weekend for my husband’s birthday. Any tips for how to melt and cool the unsweetened chocolate without it getting all hard again? Just… keep stirring? I always fail at this part of chocolate frosting. Thank you! Happy thanksgiving!

    1. deb

      Erin — Just keep an eye on it. There’s a short window of time when it’s on the warmish side of room temperature before it begins to harden again. I often hasten along the cooling step by stirring it in a bowl set in another bowl of cold water, but you have to stir the whole time. Only takes a minute or two, though.

  164. Mimi (another one :)

    Well – I made this cake for a friend’s birthday last week, but with another frosting (chocolate ganache with a Ritter Sport chocolate with 50% cocoa).

    I made the 3 layers a few days ahead and put them in the freezer, well-wrapped. They came out great.

    I did not use a whole cup of liquid, for brushing the 3 layers, as I was afraid that the next day it would be a swamp in the middle of the cake. But next time I’ll use all the liquid. I did not use rum, but coffee liqueur (friend does not like rum).

    What surprised me was that on the day after brushing the layers, and assembling with the choc. ganache (to which I also added coffee liqueur), the cake did not taste a lot of coffee. It was a nice, moist chocolate cake (the ganache tasted great), but I was a tiny bit disappointed.

    However, my friend says the day after her birthday, it tasted more of coffee. I guess it gets better on day 2 and day 3 :)

    Now, on to the grapefruit cake :-9

  165. Joshua

    Hello Deb,

    Just wanted thank you for another fab recipe. I made this cake for a birthday party my partner and I hosted this weekend. It was a huge hit! We had 4 desserts available and this one was gone before the others were even a quarter eaten. Amazing flavor, texture, and looked fantastic. Thank you!
    -Joshua

  166. Delphi

    Does it have to actually be espresso? I don’t have an espresso machine and have no idea how to make it, but I have got coffee (fresh-ground!) and a coffee pot, so I’m hoping…?

  167. Tulin

    This is my go to chocolate frosting – reminds me of childhood birthday cakes and kids love it! Plus, it’s perfect for topping with sprinkles, which makes it the ultimate birthday treat, in my opinion!