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A Hug in Cake Form

18 May 2020

I’be been trying to make our Sunday night dinners special — say, a roast chicken and vegetables or what I made for our Easter dinner: lamb, mashed potatoes, asparagus quiche, and buttery carrots (this past Sunday I served store-bought pesto on penne with roasted cauliflower but that’s neither here nor there! We did make homemade pasta recently and will repeat that once I stock up on eggs again). Just something to mark the weekend and the start of a new week that will look suspiciously like the one just passed. The best part about Sunday dinners — in my opinion — is that I make a dessert, usually cake, and often this specific chocolate cake that is best described as a hug in cake form.

Chocolate cake, chocolate cake, how do I love thee?; you are the very fairest of cakes, the truest and bluest and luscious-est of cakes, a cake I covet, a cake I will always choose if there is a choice of cake, a cake that is never a dark horse, a cake that walks by itself through the dark alleys of cakes advertising whimsy and panache and something different maybe with bananas and raspberries and a boozy creme filling — no! I will always, always come back to thee, o best beloved chocolate cake, especially if you boast a good, comforting, delicious sturdy heft and not a hint of dry crumbles and are piled, please and forever, with a fluffy whipped chocolate butter cream.

(I did bake a nice bundt cake on Mother’s day with butter and yogurt and a tart lemon glaze but between you and me in the back of my mind I was biding my time until I could make a chocolate cake the following Sunday.)

My particular favorite chocolate cake, continuing in the theme of favorite recipes I don’t care to mess around with is my forevermore go-to. Back in the days before children — the days when I could pop off to a yoga class after work on a Thursday, go for a two-hour run on a Sunday, waste hours in the library, read the paper in bed with a cup of coffee on the weekends, actually have a conversation with my husband: those days when I was busy but my time was my own — I experimented with different variations of the same recipe and on this site you will, in fact, find at least several very good chocolate cake recipes. I used to be partial to Alice Waters’ chocolate cake from “The Art of Simple Cooking” but I think it called for a mixer and these days I try to keep it as simple as possible. I also don’t fool around much with variations nowadays; when I hit on a good recipe I keep it and repeat it and don’t think about it.

This one comes by way of Sarah Keiffer’s Vanilla Bean Blog and it’s a winner. I have tweaked it a bit and the recipe written below is with my changes — I’ve incorporated olive oil, whole wheat flour, and Greek yogurt and it’s so good so good! I put the batter in a tube pan, make a very chocolatey, velvety buttercream with which to frost it and it’s easy peasy. This is in my every two-week baking rotation or so and it also pops up when I make birthday cakes or cakes for guests back when we actually had guests. And maybe we will have guests again? Fingers and toes are hypothetically crossed. Either way, here’s a hug from me to you in the form of this cake. xo

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