The Chocolate FloRo Elegance with Caramel Buttercream

Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 30 to 40 minutes

Bakers Dozen East and West—a group of dedicated bakers on both coasts—meet in this recipe. This is a special tribute to Flo Braker, long-time friend and much-respected colleague, and one of the founding members of Bakers Dozen West. I thought it would be fun to combine Flo’s best chocolate cake, the Dark Chocolate Cake, with mine, the Chocolate Domingo. Flo’s cake is more bittersweet, less dense, and moister, while the Domingo is more mellow and compact. The combination of the two turned out to be a very happy marriage, resulting in a bittersweet chocolate cake that is buttery, mellow, airy, and moist. The white chocolate caramel buttercream is a perfect foil for the bittersweet chocolate. For extra drama I like to add the optional lacquer glaze.

Plan Ahead Make the caramel buttercream at least 3 hours ahead.



fine-quality unsweetened or 99% cacao chocolate, chopped . 3 ounces 85 grams
unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa 2 tablespoons . 9 grams
strong hot coffee (see Note) ¾ cup (177 ml) 6 ounces 174 grams
sour cream 1 cup 8.5 ounces 242 grams
pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons (10 ml) . .
3 large eggs, at room temperature ½ cup plus tablespoons (140 ml) 5.3 ounces 150 grams
bleached cake flour cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 8 ounces 228 grams
baking powder 2 teaspoons . 9 grams
baking soda ¾ teaspoon . 4.1 grams
fine sea salt ¾ teaspoon . 4.5 grams
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 12 tablespoons ( sticks) 6 ounces 170 grams
canola or safflower oil, at room temperature tablespoons (22 ml) 0.7 ounce 20 grams
superfine sugar cups 12.3 ounces 350 grams

Special Equipment

Two 9 by 2 inch round cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds, then coated with baking spray with flour


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Melt the Chocolate

In a small microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds (or in the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often—do not let the bottom of the container touch the water), heat the chocolate until almost completely melted.

Remove the chocolate from the heat source and stir until fully melted. Set it in a warm spot to keep it warm.

Dissolve the Cocoa in the Coffee

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and hot coffee until dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and set the cocoa mixture in a warm spot to keep it warm.

Mix the Sour Cream and Vanilla

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla.

Whisk the Eggs

In a 1 cup glass measure with a spout, lightly whisk the eggs.

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mix the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and oil on medium speed until creamy and lighter in color, about 45 seconds. Add the sugar in a steady stream, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add the eggs, beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating on medium-low speed until the mixture is well blended and lighter in color and texture, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stop the mixer and scrape in the melted chocolate. Immediately, to keep the chocolate from hardening, beat on low speed for about 45 seconds until incorporated.

With the mixer off between additions, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing on low speed after each addition until incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Detach the beater and bowl from the stand and scrape any batter clinging to the beater into the bowl. Add the warm coffee mixture in four parts, stirring gently with a silicone spatula until smooth.

Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula. They will be almost half full (24.7 ounces/700 grams in each).

Bake the Cakes

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wire tester inserted into the centers comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cakes

Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cakes so that the tops are up. Cool completely.

Make the Soft Caramel

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

Spread a little of the buttercream on a 9 inch cardboard round or serving plate and set one layer on top. If using the plate, slide a few wide strips of parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Sandwich the layers with about 1 cup of the buttercream. Use the remainder of the buttercream to frost the top and sides. If using the parchment strips, slowly slide them out from under the cake before serving.


Airtight: room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 3 days; frozen, 2 months.

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