This cake is by far the most requested dessert at Chef and the Farmer, and although it appears on the menu only a few months every year, our staff bubbles with excitement every time it returns. Kim Adams, our pastry chef, developed the 10-layer spectacle years ago to fill our menu’s need for a killer chocolate dessert, and despite many attempts, I don’t think we’ve ever topped its moist almost sticky layers glazed in caramel.
We started with the idea of an old school caramel cake, a showpiece type of confection made up of sometimes more than 15 very thin white layers. This dessert was meant for church auctions or noteworthy birthdays—it’s not everyday stuff. I remembered the caramel icing glazed each layer and hardened over top almost like magic shell. It was toothache-sweet and unforgettable. Since a toothache is not the last impression I want people to leave Chef and the Farmer with, we decided to temper the sweetness with chocolate—not super-sweet chocolate, but a deep, rich bitter one.
For baking cake layers, the convection bake setting on your oven is the best for ensuring they come out evenly. A lot of people have convection settings on their oven and they don’t even know what they do. The convection setting means that there is a fan in the back of your oven that circulates heat all throughout the cavity while you bake or roast something. The convection setting allows you to cook things a little faster and more evenly than just a regular, thermal oven that radiates heat from the top and the bottom only. The constant air circulation of the convection setting allows the center cake layers to cook through without the edges drying out; making them perfect every time.