Friday, July 27, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

She's a beauty!
Like many girls who lived through the 1980s, I was the proud owner of an EZ Bake Oven, and I spent many a wholesome Saturday afternoon watching that little light bulb cook my cake for one. I was pleased to see that Hasbro is still pumping out the EZ Bakes, but dear God their marketing had me feeling my age. I am the first to admit that interesting children in cooking can be a challenge, but does the next generation really need an over-the-top music video to entice them to throw on an apron? Check it out: It’s like Legally Blonde meets America’s Test Kitchen (with apologies to both of those fine shows). 

Say what you will about the anti-feminist lollapalooza that is the EZ Bake’s current advertising campaign – their fine mini-appliance got me interested in baking. But by the time I’d run out of refill cake-mix packs, I’d moved onto the real oven, and desserts that served the whole family.

So it’s no wonder I latched onto Family Circle’s impressively thorough “Chocolate Cookbook” – an insert to their May 3, 1977 issue. The mini-issue is crammed full of so many succulent desserts it was hard to pick one to start with.  But, my father-in-law’s 77th birthday provided the perfect opportunity to choose. Though he laughed nervously when I told him of my plan to bake him a "Time Capsule Cake," I assured him that Chocolate Fudge Cake didn’t include Cool Whip, pudding mix or marshmallow fluff (although somewhere in this binder, I’m sure I’ll run across that exact recipe).
Sifting is the name of the game for Chocolate Fudge Cake.

The ice-bath helps the frosting turn glossy and thick.
There were several twists on this straightforward-enough recipe that made me like it all the more: The reliance on brown sugar; an obsession with sifting; a whole cup of dairy sour cream; and the addition of boiling water at the end, which turned a beautiful, fluffy batter into wet sludge.  (Me, nervous? No way!) The frosting was a riot, too: After combining the melted chocolate and butter with the confectioners’ sugar, you’re instructed to beat it over a bowl of ice until it becomes “spreadable.” I was skeptical for all of four minutes. Then the kitchen alchemy transformed my chocolate goo into thick, glossy frosting. As magical as a cake cooked with a light bulb!

The twin layers bloomed beautifully in the oven and, when frosted, looked like a poster child for the late 70s -- big and full of Farrah Fawcett-style swirls. Dense and thick, it was a hit with the birthday boy, who dug in with gusto.

I’m not the same girl who sat in front of her EZ Bake and counted down the interminable minutes until my tiny cake was done. But I’m reassured and heartened, amid so much change, by the sustaining power and simplicity of a luscious, timeless chocolate cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake
A chocolate-lover’s delight – velvety cake with luscious chocolate frosting.
Celebrate the timeless appeal of chocolate cake.

Bake at 350-degrees for 35 minute.
Makes one 9-inch cake.

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2-1/4 c. sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2-1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 cup boiling water
Chocolate Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)

1.     Melt chocolate in a small bowl over hot, not boiling water; cool.
2.     Grease and flour two 9x1-1/2-inch layer cake pans; tap out excess flour. (Or, use cocoa powder in place of flour to keep cake dark on outside.)
3.     Sift flour, baking soda and salt onto wax paper.
4.     Beat butter until soft in large bowl. Add brown sugar and eggs; beat with electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and cooled melted chocolate.
5.     Stir in dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition until batter is smooth. Stir in boiling water. (Batter will be thin.) Pour at once into prepared pans.
6.     Bake in moderate over (350-degrees) 35 minutes, or until centers spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip.
7.     Cool layers in pans on wire rack, 10 minutes; loosen around edges with a small knife or spatula; turn out onto wire racks; cool completely.
8.     Make Chocolate Fudge Frosting. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with about one-quarter of frosting; place second layer over. Gently brush off loose crumbs and spread a thin coat of frosting over top and sides; let set. Spread remaining frosting, making swirls with spatula.

·      Since this didn’t specify if the butter should be cold or at room temp, I split the difference and kept it on the counter until just slightly soft. I also used unsalted.
·      My cakes were ready at 33 minutes. Your oven temp may vary.
·      Frequent readers will know that light brown sugar gains no purchase in my kitchen. Dark brown all the way!

You'll be tempted to make off with the first piece, too.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Makes enough to fill and frost two 9-inch layers.

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 package (1 pound) 10X (confectioners’) sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1.     Combine chocolate and butter in small heavy saucepan. Place over low heat just until melted; remove from heat.
2.     Combine 10X sugar, milk and vanilla in medium-size bowl; stir until smooth; add chocolate mixture. Set bowl in pan of ice and water; beat with wooden spoon until frosting is thick enough to spread and hold its shape.

·      After all the mad sifting I did for the cake, I wasn’t about to let lumps into the party at frosting time. I sifted the 10X for silky smooth results.
·      This frosting is crazy cool. The ice-bath sets it up quickly. Don’t leave it there to answer the phone or sign for a package – it will be too hard by the time you return, and you’ll be forced to do a generous "taste test" with a spoon. You might even decide to take an equal portion of peanut butter and mix it with a spoonful of the frosting to make a really, really awesome homemade peanut-butter cup. You might further decide to question the necessity, really, of frosting the cake at all, as you realize, with some horror, exactly how much has disappeared during your reverie. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

1 comment:

  1. We are on our second EZ Bake oven. They don't make them like they used to. God bless my parents for eating the things I baked in my EZ Bake. Eating them now is rather...shall we say, difficult. You can actually taste the chemicals.

    This recipe looks awesome!!