Each Luscious Chocolaty-rich layer of this Indulgent Devil’s Food Cake is slathered with Salted Caramel Frosting and a generous coat of the BEST Chocolate Buttercream.
Today, I have the most amazing cake EVER made on URBAN BAKES and I am thrilled to finally share this with you in celebration of my blog’s 2nd anniversary! Yay!
I remember it like it was yesterday when I passed my 1st blogiversary. At the time, I believed I put in so much blood, sweat and tears into the first year but little did I know, that didn’t compare to what I experienced throughout my second year. To sum up in a nutshell, this blog has been a rollercoaster whirlwind of the most amazing, rewarding and yet at times, the most grueling process I have ever experienced.
And I wouldn’t take it back for a second!
Since the last blogiversary, I have accomplished so much more than I ever could have imagined; some of which you may not have seen on the site itself but if it weren’t because of this blog, I don’t think I would have had these wonderful opportunities come my way; but it wasn’t so easy. So for today, I would like to take a moment to get real nitty gritty down and dirty with the “behind-the-scenes” truth of what I experienced throughout the year. I don’t think there is a better moment than now to do this as I reflect on what this past year has led to where I am today.
First and foremost, I do have some explaining to do for the reason why I went on a hiatus for a few weeks without any new recipes. After all, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you and I want to take a moment to Thank You for sticking by my side.
Thank you so very much! xoxo
If you know me personally then, you already know I have been through hell and back in the past few months. I start here with the most recent situation because I am still coping from the aftermath of a relationship that I lost which had a major influence on the blog. I’ll explain more in a minute.
You know, no one ever tells you that when you start a blog, how much of your life gets involved, how people are actually reading and tuning in on what you have to say. Maybe it’s obvious to most, but I was oblivious to what I got myself into. My blog is not famous nor do I have any intention to have it be (I mean, if it does happen some day, sure I’ll take it!) but one thing I didn’t take into factor when I started URBAN BAKES, was that I will begin to develop a following. I guess the thought of this skipped my mind. When I stop to think about it long enough that people are reading and listening to what I have to say, it can get kind of scary for a lack of a better word. And it is right then, at that moment when it suddenly becomes difficult for me to type what goes on in my personal life in fear it may be too negative or too personal and not as “cheery” as some of these other food/lifestyle blogs I admire. I guess this is something I will eventually have to learn to let go.
To cut to the chase, a boyfriend I had of more than 5 years decided to cut the cord. I contemplated many times of whether I should announce this in writing for all the fears I just explained but I can’t ignore how much my relationship was involved. I’ve questioned myself over and over again if it was my fault that I invested so much time on my blog and away from him, amongst many other questions. Yet once again… no one ever tells you how much you’ll invest of your own time into your little personal space of the web. Not unless you hire a mentor or have a friend already in the business who can guide and show you the way, trying to monetize something where you do not get a steady paycheck can be quite difficult which led to further questioning of the future of URBAN BAKES.
Did you know it took a year and half before I saw my first blog-related check?! It may or may not come to you as a surprise but like most professional bloggers, we have to make blogging worth our while. Yes, I’m sure we [bloggers] all love to publish unsponsored post, have it come from the heart where no money was involved blah-blah-blah but let’s be realistic here. In order to keep this site running smoothly with hosting, time and money spent on recipe creation, baking, writing/photo editing, Oh! and let’s not forget electric, gas, internet bills, just name a few, these expenses aren’t getting paid on their own. I quit my full-time job out in Long Island to move to Manhattan (for the boyfriend) and so I was running everything on the site through savings.
So when I said “grueling process,” it was trying to figure out how to turn my hobby blog into its own revenue generating business and this was the part that took SO long to figure out. Just as I was about to give up, there was one last hope; a risk I needed to take. This was to fly to Miami to attend my first food blog conference, BlogHer Food (BHF). Now at this moment when I heard about BHF, my budget for running this site was already running very thin. Remember, I had quit my job and I had just spent several hundreds of dollars on revamping the site (January ’14), PLUS I had to then squeeze every nickel and dime to pay for BHF, airfare and the hotel. I did manage to make it all work despite that by this time, I had spent approximately $1,000. Mind you, I still had not made a single penny! But the beauty of this is, I never gave up.
There have been countless of times when I have questioned myself, can I make this work, should I continue blogging, is this a realistic business? I was motivated, persistent, and never in my life have I been so eager and determined to make something become a success!
And you may ask, what was it that kept this motivation alive, that kept me so determined? Honestly, despite the struggles I had to endure throughout 2014, I remained optimistic. I stayed quiet but always had faith that I can make this work because I wasn’t going to give up. Though it does help that in every aspect of the blog, I absolutely love such as the ability to travel, the opportunities to meet new bloggers just like myself, and establish new relationships all while working on new projects. Every week there is something new and I thrive off of this ever-changing business this blog has become. So when you become so passionate about something you love, why give it up? No. You find a way to make it work. In the end, it was worth it!
Going back to when I mentioned there are several accomplishments that you may not see within the blog, I want to give you an example. My latest accomplishment was having a photo of my Tropical Pineapple & Mango Parfait featured in Silk’s newly launched dairy-free yogurt alternative in their Expo West brochure. Do you know how awesome it feels to have your photo chosen by a national food brand to represent their product? They could have picked anyone. Hell, I’m sure they have their own photographers but they decided to work with me on this project so yea, it feels pretty great! You can see a picture of the brochure HERE. Furthermore, another photo from my Speckled Easter Cupcakes post was printed for the Spring issue of Sweet Dreams magazine, sold in Europe (photo link coming soon) AND I have been asked to become the food photographer for a cookbook released in 2016 (details in a later post).
It may not seem like a big deal but I do find it for myself that these are major accomplishments because I take pride in the amount of effort I put into each recipe creation, photo session, and try my best in what I believe is my weakest point, my writing. Ha!
Nevertheless, the biggest take-home message I’ve learned from this experience is to be honest with myself and to follow my heart. Throughout the years I have allowed someone who was very dear to me have a major influence in the decisions of my life from what job I should have to how much money I should make and it was a constant struggle to live up to someone else’s ever changing expectations because ultimately, I suffered in the end with having to quit certain jobs, move to places where I didn’t want to be all because I was too afraid to listen to myself.
As you can see, the blog is my pride and joy. Despite how long it took for me to figure things out, this is my baby and I didn’t want to let it go and so I did whatever it took to keep learning and to keep growing (even if that costs me a relationship). Follow your heart, listen to your gut and stick with what you feel is right. But most importantly, don’t give up on what you love. Stay focused, stay determined and keep working your ass off because success will ensue. :-)
Thank you for reading my rant on the past year of my life. What I have gone through in the past couple of months have opened my eyes to see many things differently. Definitely a life changing experience in which I hold no regrets!
Now let’s eat some of this AMAZING CAKE!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee powder
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a baking spray with flour, generously grease bottom and sides of 4 6-inch round baking pans; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In another medium bowl, whisk boiling water, cocoa, chocolate chips and espresso until smooth.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla and continue beating until well combined.
- On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the chocolate mixer. Note: do not over beat. Mix until just combined. Divide and pour batter evenly among 2 prepared baking pans. Store the remaining batter in the fridge.
- Bake the 2 poured cake pans for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean. Keep oven on. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and invert to release cake onto the plate. Allow cakes to continue cooling to room temperature before wrapping in plastic wrap and chilling in the refrigerator.
- Return to the chilled cake batter and whisk about 10 strokes. Pour batter evenly into the remaining two prepared round pans and repeat step 6. Turn oven off when finished.
- Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and boil for 1 minute, whisking continuously. Decrease heat to medium, add milk and continue to whisk for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and reserve 1/4 cup caramel in a small bowl; set aside. This will be used to drizzle the cake (not shown in photos). Transfer remaining caramel to a large bowl and allow to cool till warm to the touch.
- Once cooled beat in confectioner's sugar and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt until smooth and spreadable. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt if needed.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer with a flat beater, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add cocoa, 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup confectioner's sugar. Continue to beat until smooth. Note: Add the remaining 1/4 cup if frosting is too dry or add remaining 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar if frosting is too wet.
- Remove cakes from fridge, discard plastic wrapping and set cakes above a flat leveled surface. Using a long serrated knife, at eye level to the cake, cut the dome-shaped tops of each cake to create an even flat surface; discard scraps.
- Generously spread about 1 cup of salted caramel frosting onto 3 cake layers. Note: try to avoid spreading this frosting over the sides of the cakes.
- Evenly stack cakes (preferably over a turning cake stand). Leave the fourth cake without the salted caramel frosting on top.
- Using an angled spatula, generously apply chocolate buttercream frosting over the top of the cake and evenly spread frosting over the sides.
- To create the swirled effect, use your dominant hand to hold in place the angled spatula (or the back of a tablespoon) and lightly press on the border of the frosted cake while using your less dominant hand to turn the cake stand in one direction. Slightly move toward the center with each complete rotation.
- Sprinkle the border with flaked sea salt and drizzle the remaining caramel sauce (not shown in photos). ENJOY!
Devil's Food Cake recipe was adapted from (p.305) of Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.
Salted Caramel Frosting recipe adapted from here.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe adapted from here.
Recipe source: www.urbanbakes.com