Jo-Anne van den Berg-Ohms
John Scheepers * Bantam, CT

After years of trying different recipes and never being really satisfied, I finally perfected my own mocha cake recipe using all-purpose flour (I don’t usually have cake flour on hand). When I made it the first time, I prayed that the finished cakes tasted as good as the raw batter. It does. It even comes out of the cake pans perfectly without having to use parchment paper. Nice. This cake is perfect for special occasions over the winter, like Valentine’s Day, when we long for the sweet summer days of Strawberry harvest. It is one reason why making homemade Strawberry jam is so important: it screams summer to our taste buds and nourishes both cold body and weary soul in the winter. Strawberries and chocolate are a natural and the addition of coffee creates a mellow, rich flavor that my father would have loved. Mocha.

The Mocha Cake recipe is also wonderful when Strawberries are in season for a chocolatey twist on Strawberry shortcake. Once the cakes are at room temperature, slice each cake into two layers so that there are four layers. Wash, dry and slice freshly harvested Strawberries and sprinkle them with fine sugar and a splash of raspberry liqueur. After about an hour, spoon the Strawberries over each interior layer. On the top of the cake, mound freshly whipped cream sweetened with brown sugar and a drizzle of vanilla paste, and decorate with whole strawberries. Slice with a serrated bread knife. (Sometimes I freeze one of the cakes and restrain the cake to two layers at a time. Such restraint.)


Strawberry Fields Cake
  • Butter and hot cocoa mix to prepare cake pans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Espresso Powder (Williams Sonoma)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (Williams Sonoma)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce jar homemade Strawberry jam, room temperature

    Mocha Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioner sugar
  • 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet baking chocolate (German)
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon Espresso Powder (Williams Sonoma)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (Williams Sonoma)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided

    For the Cake
    Butter two 9” cake pans. Rather than using flour, dust each buttered cake pan with hot cocoa mix (any sort except the kind that has little hard marshmellows in it). Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate while beating to incorporate fully.

    In a medium bowl, dissolve the Espresso Powder into the brewed coffee, whisking to remove any little clumps. Add the vanilla paste, buttermilk and heavy cream, whisking to incorporate.

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

    Add one third of the liquid mixture into the butter mixture, mixing to fully incorporate. Add one cup flour, mixing until just incorporated. Add one third of the liquid mixture, mixing to fully incorporate. Add the second cup of flour, mixing until just incorporated. Add the remaining liquid, mixing until just incorporated. Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes and until inserted cake tester is clean. Allow the cakes to come to room temperature before turning out on individual plates.

    For the Frosting
    Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups of confectioner sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, mixing well. Add the last one cup confectioner sugar, beating well. Add the last 1/4 cup heavy cream, beating well.

    In a tiny bowl, dissolve the Espresso Powder into the boiling water, whisking to remove any little clumps. Add the vanilla paste, whisking to incorporate. Allow it to cool down.

    Add the melted chocolate (cooled down a little), while beating to incorporate fully. Add the vanilla paste and coffee mixture, beating well until smooth and fluffy.

    Assembly
    In a small bowl, stir the homemade Strawberry jam to incorporate pieces and soften. Spoon and spread half of the jam (4 ounces) on top of the bottom cake layer. Let it soak in a little bit, then spread with a thin layer of the Mocha Frosting. Place the second cake on top of it so that the cake appears to be even all around. Spread the remaining half of the Strawberry jam on top of the cake, allowing it to soak in a bit. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining Mocha Frosting. Chill the cake until serving at room temperature. Before serving, decorate the cake with sliced fresh Strawberries.


  • Recipe Seeds: Strawberries

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