Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chocolate-Cherry & Rose Layer Cake

I've been a bad blogger. It's true. The trouble is that I've just been feeling so uninspired. Food and cooking isn't really the problem either. It's more of a logistical thing. My camera is ancient and insufficient at times, my workspace needs a makeover, and my little blog feels inadequate. Wow, someone is being a big cry baby! It's just that my dear friend recently turned me onto a gorgeous blog, Sunday Suppers, and ever since viewing it I have come down with a serious case of envy, greed, and slothfulness. Sunday Suppers is a beautiful piece of work, check it out, the palette is clean and elegant, I love the logo... I WISH IT WAS MINE! It's so well-designed and lovely, makes me turn my nose up at my own and obsess about higher classes of blogdom! I know, I know. Buck up and get over it. And that's exactly what I'm trying to do today! Speaking of those deadly sins I mentioned earlier, they are the perfect introduction to this cake story.

It's a bit pitiful that I actually made this cake over a month ago! As many of you know, I'm part of a completely delightful and special gourmet cooking club, Around the Table. For the month of June our theme was The Seven Deadly Sins. This theme was one of the most exciting for me to date, I don't know why exactly, perhaps the drama and promise of such passionate themes and dishes. I got lucky and ended up with dessert course and lust. Chocolate seemed like a must, berries or fruit also seemed necessary. Through some different phases and planning I came up with the idea to follow the natural course of lusty exchanges. I knew it would be a lot going on on the plate, but I thought it might work. On a large, white rounded square plate I placed three frozen raspberry chocolate kisses to start. Cold, tangy zingers to get things rolling in the mouth. Then came a big hunk of this moist, chocolaty cake filled with silky rose butter cream and Bing cherry bits. This was the big act you could say. Then, I took some Strawberry Poprocks and tossed them in cocoa powder, clever I thought, it disguised their identity and the chocolate kept them in line with the theme. They were popping and carrying on before I even got the plates on the table for my lovely lady diners. So now that we had the fireworks it's time for a smoke, right? Now, I'm down for the occasional Saturday Night Smoke. Maybe twice a year if the feeling is right? It gives me a headache every time and basically lets me down! So, being aware of this and the fact that many of the girls may not be into smoking nicotine, I talked with my sister and she suggested this herbal smoke blend that the local specialty tea shop sells. Bam. Perfect. So her and I rolled up six, herbal ciggies. So to finish the plates presentation, I took a tablespoon of sugar or so to make a sandy platform for the cigarette to rest on and voila. I thought it was pretty fun and thankfully, so did my fellow food lovers.

The base for this cake is a recipe I make time and time again. I found it years ago when googling the best chocolate cake ever. If you google Only Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Need, several sources will pop up boasting the greatness of this recipe. It is pretty great. First of all, no mixer. Also, no creaming of butter and sugar, not that I really mind doing that anyway, but sometimes when you are making a cake and must oil and line baking pans, create icing, etc. it's just kind of nice to skip a couple steps if possible. This cake calls for very ordinary ingredients that should typically be laying around in your pantry. And, the best part is that it's like mixing up pancakes. Stir together the wet ingredients, whisk the dry, and combine. I'm going to say it again... Bam. It's easy, it's very moist and pretty much fail-proof, and really, it's the Only Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Need. It has a tons of liquid and is a very runny batter which ensures moistness. It's basically a Devils Food Cake that you could enhance with peppermint oil, chocolate chunks, etc. It's great. The original recipe calls for vegetable oil only, I melt butter to create a half oil, half butter ratio because I just like the taste butter imparts into baked goods. To skip another step and make it easier, you could just use all oil... I also make 1.5 times the recipe to make really tall, full 9" rounds.

Only Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Need

2 C. AP Flour
1 t. Salt
1 t. Powder
1 t. Soda
3/4 C. Cocoa Powder
2 C. Sugar

1 C. total oil/melted butter
1 C. hot coffee
1 C. Milk or buttermilk
2 Lg. Eggs
1 t. Vanilla

Easy as pie. Oil a 9 x 13 inch pan, oil and line 8 or 9" cake rounds, or prepare cupcake tins. Preheat the oven to about 325'.
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
In another medium bowl, whisk thoroughly all wet ingredients, about two minutes.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until smooth. Expect batter to be very thin.
Pour batter into baking vessels and bake until top just springs back. There's nothing worse than over-baked, dry cake. A good sign to start checking it is when the luscious smell of cake starts filling your home! For two 9" rounds, about thirty minutes. If you fill them extra full like I do, add another five or ten minutes, just check in near the end.
It's great smothered in a buttery, chocolate icing. Or cream cheese!