I’m not going to lie- this month’s cake is HUGE. We’re talking 3 baking sheet sized layers of cake, plus filling and frosting. It’s the perfect cake to make for a summer get together. It’ll feed about 30 people, it’s easy to make (don’t be intimidated by the size), and pretty much everyone enjoys the classic chocolate and vanilla flavors.

I actually opted to make a smaller version of the cake because I made it for fun, not for a party. So the tips today will be a combination of general baking tips for the cake as well as some suggestions if you want to downsize.

To get started, prep your baking sheets. You do need 3 for the full cake so if you don’t have that many you will need to either buy a couple more or make the cake in batches. If you do batches just measure carefully so you don’t come up short in the last batch and keep the batter refrigerated while you’re waiting.

The first couple steps are the same as what we do for most cakes- mix the dry ingredients and then beat the butter and sugar together. Then you’ll mix in the eggs and beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Just make sure everything’s fully incorporated. With a cake this large it’s easy for some of the dry ingredients to end up on the bottom so just run a spatula around the bottom to make sure everything’s good to go. If you’re making a smaller cake, I recommend calculating the ingredient amounts you need ahead of time so you don’t cut certain ingredients and not others.

Once the cake is baked, you’ll let it cool in the pans and then sprinkle the tops of the cake with powdered sugar and flip them onto cardboard or cutting boards. Be careful here- these are big cakes and will be on the heavy side and you don’t want to drop them.

The filling and frosting are made simultaneously. You’ll heat up the cream and sugar, then add it to the chocolate, whisk until smooth, and cool. Once it’s cool, you’ll add cream and butter and beat together. Then you’ll split the ganache in two and mix one half with powdered sugar. This will be the frosting. The other half will be used to fill the cake. So you’ll spread half of the filling on one of the cakes, stack a layer on top, and spread the remaining filling on top. Then add the last layer and chill the cake for 20 minutes. If you made a smaller cake, divide it evenly into thirds and then stack and fill as directed.

Finally, trim the cake if there are any uneven spots then apply a crumb coat to the cake. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that helps ensure the final frosting coat will be nice and smooth. Then just chill the cake for a couple hours to ensure the frosting is set. If you’re frosting slides down the cake a little while you’re working, don’t worry. Once it’s chilled you can fix any odd spots and no one will ever know the difference.

Once you’re ready to serve, bring the cake to room temperature and enjoy with either a nice merlot- the chocolate really shines with it- or a Riesling for something a little sweeter. If you’re making this for a party, champagne is a good bet as well.

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