Try This at Home: How to Make a Four-Layer Cake

Sweet Genius host and wedding cake designer Ron Ben-Israel shows us how to make a spectacular chocolate dessert.

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pedersen

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pedersen

Photo By: Pernille Pedersen

Photo By: Pernille Pedersen

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pedersen

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Photo By: Pernille Pederson

Tools needed: two 10-inch-round metal cake pans, two plastic sheet protectors (from an office-supply store), four 10-inch cardboard cake circles, cake turntable

"This cake has a real chocolatey punch," Ron says. "The hot coffee releases the deep, dark flavor of the cocoa."

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fold a large sheet of parchment paper in half; put a 10-inch-round cake pan on top. Trace the cake pan, then cut out the circle to make two rounds of parchment. Spray two 10-inch cake pans with cooking spray; fit a parchment round into each. Spray the pans again, then dust with flour and tap out the excess.

Pour the coffee into a liquid measuring cup or bowl; whisk in the cocoa powder. Put the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; mix with the paddle attachment on low speed, 1 minute.

Add the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and 2 cups water; beat on medium speed, 2 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low; beat in the coffee-cocoa mixture in a slow stream until combined. The batter will be thin.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in the pans on a rack, 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely. Place each cake on a 10-inch cardboard cake circle (this helps stabilize the layers as you move them around), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Ron swears by these Magi-Cake Strips: They insulate the pan and help the cakes bake evenly, without an overly domed top. ($11 for two; magi-cake.com)

Pulverize the bittersweet chocolate in a large food processor. Bring the cream just to a boil. With the motor running, pour the hot cream through the feed tube; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set in a bowl of ice water. Chill, stirring often, until the ganache is cool but not stiff, about 20 minutes.

Microwave the white chocolate in 15-second intervals until two-thirds melted; stir to fully melt. Scrape into a zip-top bag and seal. Put a plastic sheet protector on each of 2 baking sheets. Snip a corner of the bag; pipe thin lines of white chocolate over the sheets.

Refrigerate the baking sheets until the white chocolate is set, about 10 minutes, then repeat the process with the milk chocolate, piping thin lines over the white chocolate. Refrigerate until the milk chocolate is set.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the same way, then spread over the white and milk chocolate lines using an offset spatula. Refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes.

Peel the sheet protectors off the chocolate and break the chocolate sheets into shards of various sizes.

Put one cake on a cake turntable. Position a long, serrated knife against the side of the cake, about halfway down. Slowly rotate the turntable so the knife slices the cake in half horizontally. Don't move the knife much — let the rotation of the turntable do the work. Repeat with the other cake to make 4 layers; transfer each to a cardboard circle. (If you don't have a turntable, carefully slice the cakes in half on a cutting board.)

Transfer half of the ganache to a bowl and whisk until light brown and fluffy. Place one cake layer (still on a cardboard circle) on the turntable; spoon one-third of the whipped ganache on top. Rotate the turntable to smooth the ganache with a long spatula (or just assemble and frost on a cake plate). Repeat to sandwich all 4 cake layers with whipped ganache. Spread all but about 1/2 cup of the unwhipped ganache over the top and sides of the cake.

Press the chocolate bark against the sides of the cake, using small dollops of the remaining ganache to help the pieces stick, if necessary.

Remove the bark before slicing and serve the pieces on the side.

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