Do you remember the movie, “Giant?” It was James Dean’s last full-length feature film. Set in Texas, it was an epic drama made with the biggest stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. People have always been fascinated by Texas wealth, and by cowboys. Rachel Rather created this Giant cake as a tribute to the 1956 classic movie. I knew it was just the cake to celebrate my husband’s birthday this year! I have all three of her cookbooks and everything I’ve made from them is just delicious.
- For the Cake
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 large eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot brewed coffee
- For the Frosting
- 8 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder
- ⅓ cup hot brewed coffee
- 2 pounds (8 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- Fresh strawberries, for garnish (optional)
- To Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and second in the bottom third. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter or cooking spray, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess.
- Melt 1 cup butter and chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan with 2 inches lightly simmering water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the granulated sugar and vanilla extract. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the sour cream. Whisk the sour cream-soda mixture mixture in the melted butter and chocolate; whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, then whisk in the flour until thoroughly combined. Add the 2 cups hot coffee and whisk until smooth.
- Spoon batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. (Each cake pan will have about 3 cups of batter.) Set 2 filled pans on 1 oven rack and the remaining pan on the other. Arrange the cake layers on the racks so that no layer is directly over another. Bake until the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time. Cool the layers in their pans about 10 minutes; unmold onto wire racks to cool completely.
- To Make the Frosting
- Dissolve the espresso powder in the ⅓ cup hot brewed coffee. Set aside to cool. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 2 pounds butter and powdered sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the cooled espresso and vanilla paste and beat until even lighter and fluffier than before, an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
- To Assemble the Cake
- Stack 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread the top with about 1 cup of the frosting. Repeat with the second cake layer and another 1 cup frosting. Stack the final cake layer on top of the first 2 and generously cover the cake's top and sides with the remainder of the frosting. Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.
- Do it Early
- The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance, frosted and refrigerated. Take the cake out of the refrigerator about 3 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.
This cake is moist and has a deep chocolate flavor. The light buttercream, infused with coffee, is the perfect complement to the rich flavor and texture of the cake. Our family thoroughly enjoyed this special dessert and, most importantly, so did John!
Long before we met, John and I each lived in Texas – I spent my senior year of high school in Arlington, then attended the University of Dallas. John worked for an oil company in Victoria – he moved there shortly after I moved to san Diego to attend graduate school. So, we enjoy Texan cuisine and history. Texas has more pride of place than anywhere else I’ve lived.