It was a lovely wedding last weekend — beautiful, meaningful ceremony full of promises and promise, laughter, spring flowers, good people, fat babies and food to make hearts sing. Friday night we ate Italian, the Saturday brunch reception food was Cajun and the Sunday morning breakfast for out-of-towners was a table of quiches, breads, fresh fruit and ham d’lites.
Instead of a trite old wedding cakesingular at the reception we had a selection, three baked by the bride. (It’s a family of superwomen.) A plain pound cake went missing, but that’s another story.
Stoic the Vast thought he was in dessert heaven. He is a cake guy, and even though he’s not a chocolate guy, he liked this cake because it packs a wallop of chocolate and coffee and it’s not particularly sweet. In other words, it’s not for sissies. Or little kids.
The recipe is from the sample issue of Cuisine at Home that the magazine sends out every once in a while to get people to subscribe. Editors say it’s the kind of cake Grandma used to make, but I don’t remember my grandmother ever making a cake this intense or one without eggs. Despite the lack of eggs and baking powder, the layers pouffed up beautifully in the oven.
Old-fashioned chocolate cake
Cake: 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used King Arthur’s Dark Onyx)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350° with rack in the center. Spray two round 8-x 2-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. (I buttered and floured them because I’m paranoid about getting cake out of pan.)
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Add to dry ingredients and whisk just until combined. Divide batter between pans, then bake until tester inserted in center of layer comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool layers on rack for 15 minutes in pans, then invert pans onto rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely. One-eighth of cake contains 466 calories, but why don’t you just pretend this last was written in invisible ink?
Icing: 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-14 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt. Mixture will be thick and grainy.
Combine heavy cream, sour cream and coffee in large measuring cup, mixing until smooth. Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth. Cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth and hot to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not boil.
Off heat, add vanilla. Cool icing at room temperature until spreadable, 2 to 3 hours. (182 calories in 1/4 cup of this manna, but, again, invisible ink.)
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