Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh, Martha!

I've been in a cake baking rut. A rut in the sense that my past 3 of 4 cake-like items I have baked have turned out sub-par. This not only upsets me, but makes me not want to bake for fear of another failure.
First there was a cake I made for work. I was so ashamed of the lack of sponginess that I referred to it as a torte.

Then there was the cupcakes that turned hard and resembled hockey pucks.

Then there was a successful plum cake/torte(!).

Lastly there was a less-than-successful plum cake/torte, The plums were enveloped by the cake when they should have been surrounded by it. I made a repeat of the plum cake/torte for two reasons.

1. An attempt at consistency.
2. To boost my confidence.

Instead, I apologized profusely to my guest and boyfriend as we destroyed (ate) the evidence of the sunken-plum cake.

This past weekend I decided it was time to put away silly doubts, It was Jody's Birthday, and she deserved a homemade cake. In order to get over my self-doubt I tried some positive self-affirmations (something I learned in my self-defense for women class- but a handy technique when applied to other areas of life). 'I AM a strong and powerful woman!' was adapted to, 'I CAN bake a delicious cake!' I thought back to double-layered cake successes, as well as incredibly moist and perfectly spiced pumpkin cupcakes. I thought some more and remembered where I had found the most perfect pumpkin cupcake recipe- why from Martha Stewart, of course! Whatever you say about Martha Stewart, you cannot talk shit about her cakes. I'm sure savvy business sense helped her get where she is today- but she certainly couldn't have done it if her cakes sucked. After briefly searching her website (which, by the way, is a lovely and calming yet cheerful shade of Tiffany green/blue), I settled on a decidedly classy and un-fussy Devils Food Chocolate Cake.

And you know what...

It was a success!

I felt so confident about my baking on Saturday, that I not only baked a cake, but also a loaf of bread (no-knead style),

and a tuna-noodle casserole (made with cream of mushroom soup from Soup Swap), complete with breadcrumbs!

After that, I was exhausted. So I watched Gone With The Wind.

Devils Food Chocolate Cake
-Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened Hershey's cocoa, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 cake pans. Cut out some circles in parchment paper and put in bottom. Dust with cocoa and set aside. Add boiling water to cocoa powder. Mix and set aside.

In your boyfriend's Kitchenaid mixer, whip butter with paddle attachment. Add sugar and blend until fluffy. Scrape down sides and whip again. Add vanilla and eggs gradually. Blend until smooth and uniform.

Sift all dry ingredients together. Stir milk into cocoa paste- it will look delicious, but it is not.

Alternate adding flour and cocoa mixture, to butter/sugar whip. Mix until mixture is mixed.

Divide batter evenly among cake pans. Bake for 35ish minutes- or until toothpick or other sharp item you stab into cake comes out clean.

Let rest for 15 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Make frosting.

Tasty Chcolate Frosting-
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate pieces
  • cream
In a double boiler, begin to melt chocolate pieces. In mixer, whip butter. Sift powdered sugar into butter. Add cream and more powdered sugar if desired to acheive the consistancy you want.

When chocolate pieces are melty, remove from heat. pour in some cream- give it a good glug. Stir. Allow to cool for a bit then add to butter/sugar mixture. Whip to desired consistancy.

When the cake is COMPLETELY cooled, you're ready to frost. Start with a bread knife and cut off the rounded tops of the cake- this not only gives you something to nibble on- it also gives you great surfaces to work with. No wonky cakes here, no sir.

Frost the top of one cake. Put the other cake on top of the first. Frost the rest of the cake. Put a crazy-huge daffodil on your cake for beauty and to remind everyone else about spring... and GMO daffodils.


1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Out of control. Or should I say, in control?