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I come. I go. But I continue to cook and eat.

  • Jun. 14th, 2011 at 10:35 PM
There is a reason one might own so many cookbooks. Because sometimes you have the urge to make something but you may not have certain ingredients. If you hunt through your books you will find the exact thing that works with what lingers in the pantry. Today was one of those days. It was decided that we needed some cake. We always need some cake. So I made a hoosier cake that was adapted from a recipe in the Fannie Farmer Baking book.

You begin by making a cup of strong coffee. I tend to use espresso. I think of that scene in The Freshman where espresso is made and lots of sugar is added and it is implied that to drink this will make you a man. Really it just makes you feel like you are on a speed trip. Maybe this is what the Italians are aiming for? They get up and have that tiny dose of coffee and then race around in their cars, engaging in scandal and then cause the government to fall all before lunch. This is also why every place closes for a few hours in the afternoon. Everyone needs to recover as they begin to come down from the morning espresso frenzy. Then they spend the afternoon reading about the morning scandal and maybe go for a walk to clear their head before dinner. Unfortunately you won't be doing that with your coffee. Though you could, but you would need to make a second cup of coffee that would need to cool -if you still want to make this cake.

Cream together 1/2 a cup of softened butter (and for all that is holy don't try and use cold butter or to microwave it to soften it. Get the butter out when you are making the coffee. While you wait for things to cool down or warm up, you can read about assorted scandals while drinking that cup of coffee. See there is a rhythm to all of this) with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar. You may have to keep your children from taking tastes of the butter and sugar. Add 2 eggs (one at a time) and beat until smooth. In another bowl (because we are going to dirty many dishes today. Just accept this now.) you will whisk together 1/2 cup of cocoa with 1/2 cup of boiling water. What you want to achieve here is a smooth paste. (like you would have if you were making hot chocolate.) Pour that into your butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix until things are dark and chocolatey. Sift in 1 3/4 cups of AP flour and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda. You want to just mix this enough so that there aren't any white streaks left. Then you can return to your coffee that has been sitting on the counter looking woeful. Pour that into the thick cake batter along with 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Mix mix mix and it will turn into a fairly thin batter. But that will be all right. You will pour the batter into two 8 or 9 inch pans (which will have been greased/floured and if you are one for details, lined with parchment) and bake at 350F for about 20 or 25 minutes. As with most cakes you will want to do the toothpick test to make sure it is done. This isn't some molten lava cake folks. We aren't going to burn our tongues and then slightly regret dessert. Take the cake out and let it cool on racks before you think about frosting anything.

As you wait you can read some Dante and reflect upon how that Florentine understood humanity and all its foibles and did it so beautifully in the common tongue. Or you can stand around in a slip dress and wear dark glasses and pretend you are in a Fellini film. You are on your own for finding circus freaks to stand around with you. God this coffee is good.

Now it is time to assemble your cake. For the filling you could put in raspberry jam or apricot jam (if you want to pay a sort of homage to sacher tortes.) I had chocolate raspberry jam in the cupboard (thank my mom for the recipe) if you really want chocolate raspberry jam but only have the raspberry, why not melt down an oz of unsweetened chocolate and mix it in with some jam. ta-da. Spread about half a cup on the bottom layer of cake. Then pop the other layer on top.

There is a question of frosting I suppose. In this case I made a chocolate sour cream frosting. Melt down a few ounces of sweetened chocolate (anywhere between 4 and 6 will suffice) in a pan over simmering water. Take that off the heat and add about 1/2 a cup of sour cream. Not light sour cream thank you. We are having cake, not penance. Maybe add 1/2 tsp of vanilla if you are up for it. Or maybe some bourbon. Yes. bourbon. Once you have whisked everything together and it is a silky satin brown you will want to spread that all over the cake. (it should be just this side of warm) Do a crumb layer and then spread the rest over the cake. It will look lovely.

The wonderful thing about this cake is the variety of flavors and textures. The cake itself is moist and very sweet and there is the tartness of the raspberry filling and the balance of sweet and sour from the soft frosting. The flavor is a little more sophisticated. This isn't confetti cupcakes and recollections of a favorite reality show.

This is a cake where you recall a heady weekend in someone's schloss (especially if you use apricot jam) sometime between the wars. You were only going as the guest of a friend of a friend but you stayed far longer than you thought as you became acquainted with a gentleman. He had rumors swirling about him being some a Russian duke who had to leave his country and of being a cad who was likely the bastard child of some minor noble from some backwater in Swabia. You didn't really care because the cake was good and he was entertaining. It was likely having that cake with him on a picnic that sealed the deal to become his mistress. Of course you could only stay for awhile because life got in the way and you had to return to work in the bookshop. That is the cake you are having.

cake for you


ms_pooka wrote:
Jun. 15th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC)
now tell me. did they numb your mouth just for a cleaning?

i do the same as you with the not going to the dentist bit. only, before my last appointment (1.5 years ago), i hadn't been for 15 years. it's kind of hard to not feel validated when you go in for thirty minutes and it's just like if you were going in every six months. hey, what's the big deal? look how much time and energy and money i saved. now i don't want to go back because they'll be expecting me to be minus some wisdom teeth. i didn't know how to break it to them before that i would be nursing for longer than just a couple more months. and now, no money to do it.
ms_pooka wrote:
Jun. 15th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
how the hell did this comment wind up in a cake post?

anyway. i have things to say about the cake, too. i am glad for the reminder to get the butter out early. i was attempting to remember this, as i never remember this, as i only bake cakes once a year and it's always, damn! i forgot to get the butter out and there's no time. and a microwave might get involved.

i have a question (mostly because i cannot remember what i have done in the past). say i want to make the cake one day and frost it the next. what is the best way to store the cake so it doesn't dry out? can i make the frosting the day before and put it in the fridge? the days leading up to cake-making day really stress me out.
au_gout wrote:
Jun. 16th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
Need to bake more often!

I'd wrap the cake up and pop it in the fridge.
au_gout wrote:
Jun. 16th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
They did! They did such a good job that it was hard to swallow.
See I did something like that (lack of insurance and all) and it wasn't just a quick appointment. It involved a number of appointments and a crown. I got it in gold because I am fancy.
Some day they will get my wisdom teeth.
cutebutpsycho99 wrote:
Jun. 16th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
I am going to make this cake. And drink espresso. Which might result in a minor Wisconsin scandal, but hey, the cake was worth it.
au_gout wrote:
Jun. 16th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
Be careful. The PM of Italy might show up at your house.
kitchenwitch wrote:
Jun. 24th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
I made this last night and it was lovely. I used apricot jam in the middle. The cake I modified slightly, as I had only about a quarter cup of coffee, and some smallish eggs (so I used 3 instead of 2) and added about a half-cup of sour cream. I like to live on the edge and improvising baked goods. I put about a quarter cup of powdered sugar in the frosting because one of the eaters isn't big on sour cream.



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