Sunday 30 October 2016

Auntie Jennifen's Chocolate Cake

School holidays, that time of year when you slow down, relax, eat healthy, and accomplish great things.

HA! Just kidding.

You hire a cheap, duct taped car, drive a distance to go and see lots of family members (and some breathtaking scenery), then stuff your face every half hour all day, every day. You get nothing productive done, and then wonder why your clothes feel all tight and you are behind on your studies...

But it's worth it because you get to taste some pretty amazing chocolate cake - not too rich, just the right amount of chocolate, and, er, MOIST! And handily, your sister-in-law not only HAS the recipe, she is willing to share it.

Now, you don't just make this cake on any old kind of day. No, you wait for one of those days when you are running late to pick up your youngest child, after which you need to go and pick up your other two, and you head into the shops to make sure you have lunch and other bits and bobs needed and you get to the self scanning till and don't actually have your purse with you. You know exactly where it is, now that you think about it (note: never change bags, ever) but that isn't going to help you pay for the basket of shopping that you don't have time to come back and get later. One of those days where you also find out the school has planned the individual photo portraits for Hallowe'en, and that happens to be when your son's class will be skiing for half the day, and your daughter's class is having a costume party. One of those days when you work for a ghost tour company and things are going a bit mental. This is the perfect sort of day to make a chocolate cake.

So yes, after children were collected and fed (eventually) I gathered ingredients together and started throwing them into a bowl.

Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble...

And I began to mix.

Then I poured in boiling water and mixed some more.

Until I had this beautiful, runny batter in front of me.

Funnily enough, some people arrived to help me with it.

My daughter's top is great for hiding stains, I was relieved to discover

It was poured into two tins, in uneven quantities, naturally, and then they grew to unnatural sizes.

And, because I am such a skilled baker, they sank a bit.

I stuck them in the fridge to cool quickly, then moved onto the icing, beginning with butter, cocoa, and espresso powder, then getting ready to add icing sugar and milk until the final product was ready.

Then I had one of my special moments. You know, one of those special times when you have three people in the kitchen talking to you at once, and you just mean to bend down to dive under the mixer's wire extended across the not-so-greatly designed kitchen to get to the fridge for the milk, only you misjudge the distance and bash your head so hard on a corner that blood starts pouring down your face? And your husband asks you what's wrong with you as you sit crying on the floor with your three year old handing you tissues "for your drips"?

Does that happen to you, too?

Looks like I'll be Harry Potter for Hallowe'en. This is the cut cleaned up and swelling subsided:

Not to be deterred, I had my assistant hold the bowl while I applied pressure (and an ice pack) to the wound so I could keep mixing. What else was I to do? Give up on a cake? Pfft, I DON'T THINK SO!

If there was any time chocolate cake was needed, now was the moment.

My precious...

After my family had sampled it

The rest was sent along to the lovely folk at work who are keeping folk entertained this weekend as part of Hallowe'en celebrations. The cake was not given out of any real generosity on my part, you understand, but instead to prevent me from sobbing and eating all of it in one sitting.

If you find you are having the sort of day requiring this cake you can get a pretty and printable version of the recipe here, or you can settle for the usual copy & paste below.

  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. For the cake:
  3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  5. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  7. Frost cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

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