Here's what you'll need for the cake:
- 4 sticks butter (I use unsalted), plus more for greasing
- 8 heaping tablespoons cocoa, plus more for dusting
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 whole eggs, beaten
Pour over flour mixture and stir lightly to cool.
Combine the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla, and eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the butter/chocolate mixture.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool completely before icing. (See how nice the outsides look with the cocoa?)
For the frosting, heat 3 cups heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling. Pour hot cream over 24 ounces of semisweet chocolate broken into pieces (or use chips, as I did. And actually, I added my chips to the cream after removing it from the heat, so I wouldn't have to dirty another bowl). Stir until chocolate is completely melted then pour into the bowl of an electric mixer and refrigerate to cool.
Once ganache (yep, that's what it is) is cooled completely, add the vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until light and airy.
Frost the cake in between each layer...
and you will know soon enough if you did indeed melt the chocolate completely. I did not :-( It looked grainy and yucky. However, it tasted really good so I plugged along.
Once I got it all iced, it still looked horrible. So I heated my spreader under hot water, wiped of the water and quickly smoothed it over the surface. The heat glossed things up considerably. So, I did it over and over until I had a look I wasn't ashamed of.
See why it's call a BIG birthday cake?
Did I mention this cake was yummy? Oh. My. Stars. (yes, I'm channeling Ruthy) This was to-die for. And I almost did with all I ate. But I would have died a happy woman.
I wouldn't dream of making this cake on a regular, or even semi-regular, basis. But special occasions, and special people, deserve special treats. Don't you agree?