Monthly Archives: May 2014

Remember that yummy chocolate cake I made yesterday? Also remember how no one in my house eats dessert? No? Well, it’s the truth. Apart from cookies, my kids do not, as a rule, eat sweet things. (I have a theory that this may be why V is the grumpiest child I know. Come to think of it, the hubster…?) Which is why I’m not much of a baker.

The sight of a cake ups one’s caloric intake by a 100. I know from experience now that 20 minutes (real time; hours in terms of counting seconds) of treadmill run/walking burns 127 calories. When you do the math it is quite obvious that giving up cake forever to earn freedom from treacherous gym hours is a highly desirable thing. Since I ran the risk of ignoring this extreme duplicity of cake whilst it lounged around on my counter, I froze half of that wretched (oh, yummy!) thing.

Today I will try to sell my disinterested kids on this frosted version of it.

ImageMaybe they will buy it if I tell them it’s in advance for Memorial Day? They do quite love a celebration of some sort… If I brought it out in the evening after switching off the lights? Dim lighting sets the mood for indulgence, doesn’t it?

ImageI hope this works. Or I am doomed to wander the eternal halls of the gym forever more.

Advertisements

Of a Dreamy Chocolate Cake…

…and other things.

I’m not much of a dessert person but I’ve always loved cakes. Back when I was a teenager, and to some degree even now, baking cakes isn’t a tradition in India because most people don’t have large ovens in their kitchens. Back then, it was even more uncommon. My aunt was a pioneer baker at such a time and possessed a small, round, countertop convection oven that she used for baking her kids’ birthday cakes and special occasion desserts. She’d save the edges for me, and sometimes even baked me a special cake if she knew we were visiting. What a treat a simple chocolate cake was in those days!

ImageSomehow I have never had much success with baking cakes. I’ve tried a few times, ending up mostly with a fallen, dense, broken piece of chocolate Styrofoam, and given up. After all, who wants to keep doing something they’re no good at, right?

Until today.

ImageTrawling chowhound.com one day, I came across a post that mentioned The Cake Bible, a book that promises to be the nemesis of those feelings of culinary inadequacy experienced after baking a cake that will guiltily be trashed after a couple days of being carted to the table and back unconsumed. Honestly? It might very well be! This is my first tried recipe from it but it turned out so perfect that I might try another one. At the end of each recipe the author explains the process that went into it (cake flour vs AP, granulated sugar vs superfine, butter vs shortening) so one could ostensibly move around ingredients depending on their preference.

I can’t say I contributed anything original to this recipe, but I did do the 2/3 calculations the author suggested to get one 9″ cake instead of two, so that could count. The texture of the cake is extremely springy and delicate with a rich, deeply chocolate flavor. No icing needed…some sprinkled sugar makes this cake look festive and party worthy.

ImageDreamy Simple Chocolate Cake (adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Makes one 9″ cake (measurement in weight for accuracy)

Baking cocoa – 42g
Boiling water – 2/3 cup
2 large eggs
Vanilla – 1 tbsp
Cake Flour (I used unbleached AP flour) – 158g
Icing sugar – 200g
Baking powder – 10g
Butter, softened – 152g

  • Preheat oven to 350 and prepare baking pan.
  • Mix water and cocoa together to smooth consistency. Set aside to cool.
  • Lightly beat eggs, vanilla and 1/4 of the cocoa mixture to temper the eggs.
  • In the electric mixer bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and sugar on slow speed just to mix the dry ingredients. (Sifting and mixing helps to aerate the mixture.)
  • Add butter and cocoa mixture and beat on med-high for a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl.
  • Add egg mixture gradually and beat. At this point the batter will look light and chocolatey, almost like whipped cream. Pour into cake pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean.

ImageMy original piece of advice would be: Let the cake cool! Don’t be impatient (as I have been numerous times before) and try to unmold the cake while it’s still hot or even warm. It. breaks. up. Every time. And so does your heart. One can only endure so many heartbreaks in life.

If you wait, you get rewarded with a beautiful, whole cake. If you don’t… well…

ImageWhile I enjoy the dreaminess of this cake, the kiddos have their own deliciousness to contend with.

Image🙂

Birthday Present Cookies.

This year I hosted an old fashioned birthday party for my new 5yo. It was old fashioned because it was simple. From the decorations to the presents to the party games, nothing really matched or followed a theme. The timing was free flowing (mainly because I hadn’t planned much), but the kids had a wonderful time.

No theme meant no idea what to offer in loot bags. There’s been a lot of brouhaha about entitled kids demanding loot bags etc., but I just think birthdays are special enough to spoil everyone involved. So I packed each kid a cookie to bring home!

ImageThese gable boxes at Michaels are so festive! I’ve used them for different purposes at various occasions and they always deliver the wow factor.

For the cookie itself, in keeping with the simplicity “theme”, I hand cut rectangles (SO hard, ha!) and decorated them as gifts.

ImageThe color scheme has nothing to do with anything; I just wanted to try out colors that I hadn’t used before 🙂 They did look a bit girly together but whatevs, they were going to be consumed by 5yos on a sugar high.ImageDots, I’ve realized, are the classiest and easiest of design elements that work every single time. For someone to whom artsy designs don’t just “come in a flash”, heck I even have trouble copying art, dots are the way to go.

ImageA little present to make a little buddy of my sunshine happy. I’ll take that.