World’s Fair Cake 12.000

Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

May 6, 2015

Dorothy Sietsema isn’t certain where she got the recipe for this festive chocolate cake with its four layers of flavored whipped cream, or which fair the dessert was supposed to represent. What’s certain is that the cake made an appearance at many a birthday in the house that Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema grew up in.

In a pinch, she used a milk chocolate cake mix. More often, she whipped up the base from a wonderful buttermilk chocolate cake recipe she got from her friend Georgia Johnson.

Make Ahead: The flavored, colored batches of whipped cream can be covered and refrigerated up to a day in advance. If there’s any cake left over, its flavor gets better with time; the assembled cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Servings:
12 - 16

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12-16 servings

Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 2 cups flour, plus more for the cake pans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 squares (2 1/4 ounces) bittersweet baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • For the filling
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 or 2 drops green food coloring, preferably natural
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 or 2 drops yellow food coloring, preferably natural
  • 1/4 cup chopped peppermint candies (may substitute 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract)
  • 1 or 2 drops red food coloring, preferably natural
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter, then dust with flour, shaking out any excess. If you have them, line the bottom of each pan with a 9-inch round of parchment paper; this will make it easier to handle the cake later when you cut each layer in half.

Combine the shortening and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs; beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the melted chocolate and beat (medium speed) just until blended.

Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding one-third of the flour mixture, the water, another third of the flour mixture and the buttermilk, ending with the remaining flour mixture; beat to form a smooth, thin batter.

Divide the batter between the cake pans; bake (middle rack) for about 40 minutes or just until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Do not overbake. Transfer the cake, in the pans, to a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling: Combine the heavy whipping cream and ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on low, then medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until soft peaks form.

Divide the whipped cream among four bowls. Stir in the vanilla extract, green food coloring and pistachios in one bowl, using just enough color to make the tint a soft pastel green. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Stir in the almond extract and yellow food coloring in the second bowl, using just enough color to make the tint a soft pastel yellow. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Stir in the peppermint candies and red food coloring in the third bowl, using just enough color to make the tint a soft pastel pink. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Stir in the cocoa powder, the remaining tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar and the cinnamon in the fourth bowl, blending to form an even light-chocolate tone. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Use a long serrated knife or unwaxed dental floss to cut each cake layer in half horizontally and evenly.

Place one of the four thin cake layers on a serving plate. Spread the green whipped cream evenly across the top, making sure it goes to the edges. (The sides of the cake remain exposed.)

As needed, peel off the parchment from the matching cake layer half, then place peeled side up on top of the green whipped cream. Top the second cake layer with the yellow whipped cream.

Place the third cake layer half atop the yellow whipped cream, then spread the pink whipped cream evenly over that surface.

As needed, peel the remaining parchment paper off the last cake layer half; place the layer on top of the pink whipped cream, peeled side up. Spread the chocolate-cinnamon whipped cream on top. Unless you’re serving the cake right away, use bamboo skewers to hold the layers in place. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Recipe Source

From Dorothy Sietsema.

Tested by Tom Sietsema.

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