29 May 2006

grandma's chocolate cake

Hi there, Julieree readers. This is Jennie (AKA Twin). I've got Julie bound and gagged in the closet and I've taken over her blog. MWAHAHA! I'll probably let her go soon. But until then...you get me.

I actually baked today, a very unusual occurrence. Julie is a fabulous cook. Me, sadly, not so much. I love to eat what Julie cooks, but few things inspire me to make the effort of baking. This cake is one of the exceptions. It is light and fluffy, very chocolatey but not overly sweet.

First, the story behind the recipe. When our grandparents got marrried in the late 1930s, Grandma decided to have a recipe bridal shower, each guest bringing a favorite recipe to share. When Grandpa first tasted this cake, he made it a condition of the marriage that she make the cake once a week. Of course he was kidding, but it has been a family favorite ever since. Julie and I have probably had this cake at every single birthday. It is by far my favorite dessert. Grandma always made it with regular chocolate frosting, the fluffy kind made with confectioner's sugar. Mama has since traded this for a rich ganache for even greater chocolatey decadence.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbs cocoa
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup boiling water

Directions: Preheat oven to 250. Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs and egg yolk. Beat well. Sift flour, cocoa, salt, and soda together in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Begin and end with flour mixture. Add hot water and stir to mix. Pour batter into greased 9"X13" pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 250 for the first 20 minutes, then increase temperature to 350 until done.

As you can see from the picture, we made them as cupcakes this time. They take about 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Mama's Ganache:
1 1/4 cup cream
12 oz chocolate (highest quality you want to spring for)
1 tsp vanilla

Just heat the cream in the microwave, then stir the chocolate and vanilla in. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until it has set to a good consistency.

Special warning for all you baking novices out there (like me). This is actually my second attempt at the cake this week. On my first try, I realized at the last minute that we didn't have any cocoa. So I pulled out some Nesquik thinking, hey, it's the same thing, right? Ummm, no, not really. Disasterous results. Practically inedible. So this time I bought the good stuff--Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa. Good ingredients make for a good cake. A lesson learned.


Dora said...

Your food pictures always turn out better than mine! I think it's because there aren't enough windows and I'm usually taking pictures at night.

julieree said...

Yeah, and I have a bad-ass camera. I heart my camera.

I try to take pix during the day for the light--i hate flash mostly because I have never learned to properly tame it. If the light's not great it helps if you stabilize the camera on something (I used the back of a chair for this pic) so you can use a longer shutter speed and also avoid bluriness. One of these days I'll invest in a tripod. Maybe in about 5 years when I have finished paying for the bad-ass camera.

Also helps to doctor the pix in photoshop--it can be a miracle worker.

enjoy the cupcakes tomorrow! (jennie actually let me keep a couple at home--yay!)

Marmee said...

The ganache chocolate should be bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate -- the higher the percentage of cocoa solids, generally speaking, the better the chocolate. I have a friend who sent me an 11-pound bar of Callebaut chocolate one Christmas, bless her, and I'm still working on it. I've also used the Lindt 70-percent bittersweet bars with good results.

julieree said...

ah yes, the callebaut. nummy.

this time we used ghiradelli bittersweet (which I think is 70%) and it is quite nice. And it was such a wonderfully hot afternoon that the chocolate was already smushy when we dumped it in the cream, so it melted like a dream.

somebody flipped the switch and made it summer all of a sudden! woo hoo!!

Stella said...

my new go-to chocolate cake recipe!! this turned out so well.