Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Little Black Magic In The Kitchen

In previous posts, I have mentioned (often and emphatically) that I am a cook, not a baker.  Anyone who cooks knows there is a very real difference between the two and the bakers of the world who can bake and cook, will list "Baker" before Cook on their resume, making it very clear that baking may require a bit more acknowledgement, citing the patience, commitment and something I struggle with, the ability to follow directions while using exact measurements and ingredients, while keeping on task.  B-O-R-I-N-G!
I say it's boring rather than admitting I'm impatient, scattered and I believe that having some "wiggle room" in a recipe "is my friend."
I am quite pleased with myself when a bunch of chocolate cupcakes come out of my oven and they're all (pretty much) the same height and there isn't that familiar aroma of slightly scorched cocoa in the room.  With my collection of recipes, I have gotten pretty darn good with some really delicious frostings. Frostings, that I consider cooking 'cause you can pour in the vanilla, shake in the confectioners sugar and judge how much cream cheese or butter you need considering how stiff you want  it. I know you gotta be close to the 3 or 4 cups or tablespoons, whatever, but you can "fudge" a little bit.  NOT SO with the cake part. And because I realize my strengths and weaknesses, I head right for the Duncan Hines aisle when I'm in the mood for, or have an occasion that calls for cake.
With all the great food blogs out there, not too mention my various food magazines subscriptions that temp me on a monthly basis with  mouthwatering pictures and recipes of these gorgeous cakes, cookies, pies and desserts; it's pretty damn obvious that Duncan Hines ain't got no box mix for every delicious dessert.  They have to be "made".  Someone is gonna have to bake these babies.  Apparently, I'm gonna have to learn to restrain myself, reel in the freehand  and "read the directions, Mommy."  
This is the predicament I found myself in last week while blog-hopping.  I came across a scrumptious picture of chocolate perfection beneath the title: Black Magic Cake. Uh, oh. Now, before I could look away, I was in it's spell.  Bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the name, then there was the byline stating it was the best easy chocolate cake their test kitchen had ever made.  It had been given 8 (!) Blue Ribbons.  Blue Ribbons that had been awarded by novice bakers, such as myself.  There it was.  My baking challenge. The gauntlet had been thrown.......I was gonna BAKE this cake. 
Briefly looking through the ingredients (Briefly? Really? See, I'm hopeless!), I saw that I had everything I needed, thanks to my food hoarding and generous husband (XO, Geraldo!).  I turned the oven to 350 and got started.  I only have one 9x9 cake pan, (how did that happen?)  so I opted for the 9x13 one layer version.  With flour pretty much everywhere, all my mixing bowls on the counter and a sinkful of measuring cups, I made my Black Magic Cake. . . with Chocolate Buttercream frosting, an extra added attraction.  It was delicious!  And it really was easy.   I was very pleased with myself and inspired to not be so afraid of the exactness of the measuring and the precision of the recipe.  It certainly helps that I have a new oven that I can depend on to hold the right temperature (again, XO, Geraldo!) and that there was no one else in the house that day.  It was not a pretty site, albeit a tasty one.  And it did get the kitchen swept and the floor cleaned.  Another bonus.
Here's the Recipe.  I hope you'll try it.  DO make sure you add the coffee.  I added a bit of instant coffee to some leftover breakfast coffee.  It really kicks up the chocolate taste.  

Black Magic Cake

Ingredients:

•2 cups sugar
•1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
•3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
•2 teaspoons baking soda
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1 teaspoon salt
•2 eggs
•1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk*)
•1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
•1/2 cup vegetable oil
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13×9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

1  Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.

2  Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well.

3  Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time.

4  Add vanilla.

5  Spread on cooled cake or cupcakes
Comfort and Joy!!
lisagschmidt@hotmail.com
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