Decadent summer cakes

11:17 AM, Jun 14, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- From picnics to cookouts to lazy evenings at home, summer's all about fuss-free food.

Thursday morning, chef and culinary instructor Terry John Zila showed us how to literally put the icing on the cake when it comes to topping off the perfect meal.

For more information about Terry John Zila and his upcoming classes, visit

You can also check out his blog at

Blackout Chocolate Cake

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ cup buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cup strong coffee, or 2 tablespoons instant espresso with 1 ½ cup warm water.

1. Preheat oven to 350?F. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line with parchment, then spray pans again.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in sugar.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and the vanilla and then mix them into the dry ingredients. Scrape the side of the bowl.
4. Add the buttermilk, melted butter and coffee. Scrape down the bowl and then fill the prepared pans.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans before inverting onto a cooling rack.

Italian Meringue

½ cup water
2 cups plus ¼ cup sugar (separated)
9 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the water and 2 cups of the sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.
2. Heat the sugar/water mixture, without stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. While the mixture heats, brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water to prevent the formation of sugar crystals.
3. Clip on a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Bring the syrup to the firm-ball stage (248?F on the candy thermometer).
4. While sugar syrup is cooking, place egg whites in the clean, grease-free bowl of a standing mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
5. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and whip until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
6. With the mixer running, slowly pour firm ball stage syrup into egg white mixture and continue whipping until mixture is cool, about 15 minutes.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

1 ½ pound (6 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces. Plus 1 stick extra for possible additions.

1. To the cooled Italian Meringue, with the standing mixer running at medium speed, add the softened butter 2 tablespoons at a time. The buttercream will go through several stages. At first it will look soupy and lumpy. You may think that you have a disaster on your hands, but patience is a virtue here. Continue adding the butter and towards the end of the incorporation process, you will start to see it come together.

Note! If the buttercream still does not have a whipped, uniform texture after you have added the original 1 ½ pounds of butter, you can add the additional butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the mixture comes together.

Lemon Meringue Buttercream: Add 1 ½ cups lemon curd
Cream Cheese Buttercream: Add one 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
Strawberry Buttercream: Add 1 package Birdseye frozen strawberries in heavy syrup,
thawed and pureed.
Caramel Buttercream: Add ½ cup Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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