2 3/4 c (340 g) flour
1/2 c (57 g) natural cocoa
2 c (454 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp safflower oil or other neutral flavored oil
3 c (510 g) moderately packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, preferably freshly ground
Scrapings from two vanilla bean pods or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
6 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 c red wine (Zinfandels work especially well)
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F and oil and line three 8" pans.
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder to remove lumps, then set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds. Let the mixer run for about 10 minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Turn the mixer speed down to medium low and add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next. Again, be sure to scrape down the bowl.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour/cocoa mixture and red wine in 3 alternating portions, scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the vanilla at the very end, then shut off the mixer and fold the batter a few times to ensure an even mix.
Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans (25 ounces each).
Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cakes have domed but retain a slight impression if touched gently with a fingertip. A toothpick inserted into the very center should have a few moist crumbs still attached.
Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes then invert and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely cool, about 2 or 3 hours.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, room temp
8 Tbsp (114 g) butter, room temp
4 1/3 c (676 g) confectioners' sugar, or more if desired
1 Tbsp vanilla
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Cream together until smooth and lightened. Sift in the powdered sugar about a cup at a time, then beat in high speed until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar if needed. Beat in the vanilla.
For detailed cake filling instructions, click here.
For detailed cake frosting instructions, click here.
Trim the domes off the chilled layers of cake, if needed. Spread with a generous amount of frosting, then top with another layer of cake. Spread with more frosting and add the top layer. Crumb coat the entire cake with a small amount of frosting, then frost and decorate as desired.