Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Birthday Cake

For #11, Laura chose a simple cake. Not last year's insane waterfall, that required me to bake three cakes and mix up a triple batch of frosting. This year, Laura is all about simplicity - a steak dinner and a chocolate cake are the only requirements for the family party.

This is my back-pocket chocolate cake recipe. If you own even one community cookbook, you've seen this recipe. Sometimes called "Texas Sheet Cake" or "One-Pot Chocolate Sheet Cake," it's pretty straightforward. I add vanilla and sometimes a cup of leftover coffee to amp up the flavor. It's unbelievably easy, and because it's made with real ingredients and not a cake mix, the flavor is outstanding. Maybe not chocolate mousse cake outstanding, but more in the vein of "I really should bake more, because this cake is really good."

You will wonder how Duncan Hines can stay in business after you make this cake. And you will be the most popular room mom in your kid's school!

Back-Pocket Chocolate Sheet Cake

4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup hot water or coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream or plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Chocolate icing

1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips or squres)
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9 X 13 baking pan with baking spray.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt together the chocolate, butter and water (or coffee, if using). Whisk until smooth, add vanilla, then remove from heat. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar and whisk to thoroughly blend. Beat in buttermilk and eggs.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly and bake 35 to 40 minutes. I use convection and it usually bakes the lesser amount of time. Cool the cake.

3. For the icing, in the same (cleaned) saucepan that you stirred together the cake batter, combine butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring continually until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add vanilla and milk until icing is smooth enough to spread. Pour icing over warm cake. This is heaven right now, but if you wait til it cools, you will be rewarded with a sweet chocolatey and less messy cake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to Laura. Eleven is a nice age. Enjoy it before the roller coaster of the teen years begins, although it's beginning sooner now than in the past.

It's wonderful to see your simple and excellent cake and to hear about a family party with no ponys or other over-the-top items. Does it seem to you that birthday parties have gotten out of hand?