Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chocolate Cake

Birthdays come and go, but Chocolate Cake... it is forever.

Simple, or some say "humble ingredients" can morph from stable pantry ingredients into tasty, mouth watering, delicious foodstuffs that dreams are made of. I am ridiculously partial to the Martha Stewart recipe for basic, never fail yumminess in the form of a chocolate layer cake and swirly melt in my mouth frosting. Now I know, you must be saying... Martha
Stewart? Well her staff is huge, they are always trying everything under the sun, they tweak everything until it hurts... so how could it go wrong? It
doesn't. It really just doesn't. I of course like to make some adjustments since my palate is a tad particular. Not big changes... but ones that add little nuances to suit my own tastes. It is my cake, so my needs rule. Just go with them, I really think you will be pleasantly rewarded. And yes, I am going to give you the link so you aren't tempted by another of her recipes. Not all of her recipes are as true to my goals as this one. This one has a little bit of wiggle room for erring or tweaking as follows (... or whatever you may want to alter).

The first part of the recipe that I fiddled with is where you cream the butter and sugar together. The butter used is never, ever, ever salted in my world. This is important, since you just have no idea how old it is. Salting butter is done to help extend its shelf life, with salt used as a preservative. Instead of using all white sugar, I like to switch out half of it for packed brown sugar. Scientifically speaking, brown sugar has a deeper more intense flavor due to the residual molasses. There is some chemical thing that happens here too... where the sugar retains more of the innate moisture in the cake. ( this is hygroscopic. here is a definition relative to cookie baking... which is pretty close to cake baking:
" Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it draws moisture or water to itself. In addition to its sweetening properties sugar helps make cookies tender and soft").

My most favorite part of altering the recipe is where the cocoa is put into a liquid form, by adding boiling water. I prefer to do this with freshly brewed coffee equal in quantity to the water in the recipe. This is subtle enough to pass the picky palate of my non-coffee tolerant brood. In fact, they admit that the addition of the coffee adds a good background flavor. I really appreciate that. I think it might be in lieu of making me a present or just to get cake back into the house. Either way,,, it is a "good enough thing".

The batter alone seems so good, you really ought to eat it all up with a spoon... and my handy assistant is willing to do just that. Her help up to this point is invaluable.

Sadly, when we had the gorgeous cakes come out of the oven, cool, rest and get frosted with "mrs. milman's frosting"... other obligations prevented me from taking a photograph of the final product.
We rushed with a slightly warm cake on a platter under a tent of plastic film to our next destination. I let it all rest in the freezer to firm up, later doing fresh dips and doodles in the surface icing.
Many children and adults snarfled this cake... leaving me with one clear, and new objective.

I need to make another cake as soon as it is humanly possible.
Clearly, It is not long lived , as long as folks are willing to partake in its delightful crumb, silky texture, delicate coffee notes and scrumptious chocolatey icing. It is good to have goals in life right?
As soon as the new prototype is manufactured, beautifully photographed pics will be provided. Until then, Martha's will have to do.

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