Monday, March 4, 2013

Birthday Cake

I love old Grange cookbooks. I have one that is called "Our Favorite Grange Recipes" and it was compiled in the late 1960s. The cover features a drawing of a smiling farmer with a bushel basket of vegetables. The sub-title is "a Collection of Rural Recipes Which Have Made Grange Cooking Famous Throughout the West Since 1870."

That pretty much says it all.

The cake recipes run the gamut from what we'd call in the South "white-trash cooking" (lots of processed ingredients thrown together in a "creative" way) to old-school deliciousness. I chose Midnight Cake for my birthday and made a double recipe for four layers.  Here it is--

1/2 C butter
1 1/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t. soda
1 C hot water
1/2 C cocoa
1 1/2 C cake flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla

Cream butter, add sugar gradually, beat well. Add eggs and beat one minute. Add hot water to cocoa and mix until smooth. Add cocoa mixture to eggs and sugar. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, beating well. Add vanilla. Bake 20 mins at 350.

I used regular cocoa for the first batch and dark cocoa for the second which gave it a subtle variegated look when stacked. It is a very tender cake and you would be wise to let the cooked cake rest in the pans for 5 minutes of so and then cover your cooling rack with parchment or waxed paper before turning the layers out.

The icing also came from this book. It is the last icing recipe in the section.

Chocolate Fudge Icing
1 C light brown sugar
1/4 C milk
3 T butter
3 T cocoa
Boil the above ingredients for 3 minutes, remove from hear and add 1 1/2 C sifted powdered sugar and 1 t. vanilla. (and I needed an extra  T. milk to make the icing the right consistency). Beat until firm.

Then you have to ice the cake fast.  It took three batches to get the level of coverage I like for a four layer cake.  I'd do one--ice like a maniac.  Do another, ditto. And again.  Serve stingy little slices because it is very, very rich.

It is a very firm frosting--a good keeper,as they say. The taste is extraordinary--so unlike the crap frosting on grocery store cakes or the garbage that comes out of a can.

Next time--and there will be a next time--I'm going to do a sour cherry filling for the layers. Same icing. A slash of whipped cream on the slice, as you serve.  On the photo above, I rolled out some little dabs of this firm frosting and stuck them in a circle on top of the cake.  I broke up a bar of crystalized honey infused organic chocolate and stuck a piece in each dab.  Sifted a little powdered sugar on the top and it looked a little like a stone circle in a light snow.

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