This recipe just had to be posted, and blogged about! My blog is about what I pull together for dinner, but I have to make a special exception in this case of this cake. I am not much of an ad-libber when it comes to baked goods (save for a simple bread dough , scones and maybe muffins). Being a baker is like being a chemist, you need to know how ingredients are going to react together under the pressure of heat, or by the sheer act of mixing them in a bowl! I love to make cakes when there is an occasion or just so myself and my daughter or son can do something fun together (and then get to eat the fun!). I have been reading this book, The Bake Shop Ghost (by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, and Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman) to my kids for years.
The story is about a wonderful, but sour-pussed baker named Cora-Lee, who makes wonderful cakes and pastries. She dies and leaves the town completely forlorn. Who will bake for them now? Each potential tenant however is haunted out of the shop by Cora-Lee, until one day she meets her match in the spunky and talented Annie Washington. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it makes me feel happy and choked up every time I read it.
There are long lists of cakes in the book that make me salivate, and long for just 1 perfect slice of cake; like….”fluffy meringue pies, glistening fruit tarts, flaky strudels, layer cakes, sheet cakes, cakes with glazes, cakes with fillings, cakes with frosting finer than Irish lace, chocolate cakes, white cakes, tiny petits fours and towering wedding cakes” – When you read the words slowly it is hard to keep from slamming the book shut and dashing out to the bakery!
There is a cake recipe at the very end of the book for a luscious chocolate cake with frosting (adapted by Luli Gray from a recipe published in Cook’s Illustrated magazine), and, each time we read the book we vow to make the cake; we never have.
The book got put into the box of books that the kids have more or less outgrown but we still want to keep, until the other day, when my daughter mentioned the book, and the cake we never made. That was it! With a little rummaging in the nether regions of the attic room we found the book. My daughter read it out loud and we began dreaming about that chocolate cake again. Well, we finally made it – yeah!
When we tasted it, we closed our eyes and began to mmmm. It was rich, and buttery, and chocolate-y, and not overly sweet. I changed 1 thing in the recipe. Instead of the 1 cup of water called for, I used 1 cup of brewed coffee leftover from breakfast. I love coffee and chocolate, but feel free to go with just water. I also doubled the frosting, as the amount called for was not enough to fill and frost the cake completely. Oh and we also colored it, just for fun.
And, if you get a chance, buy the book or get it from the library, and eat a slice of this cake right after you finish reading.
In a large bowl, mix together: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 tbs buttermilk powder (found in the dried and evaporated milk section of your supermarket), 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt.
Preheat oven 325*
Prepare 2 9″ or 8″ cake pans by buttering the sides and bottom and then laying a circle of parchment or wax paper on the bottom and buttering it.
In a medium saucepan, melt over low heat: 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (12 oz) & 8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate.
In medium bowl, beat: 4 eggs with 1 cup of water (or cold coffee) and 1 tsp vanilla. Scrape melted chocolate and butter into bowl and combine.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just blended. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
you will need: 6 cup confectioners sugar, sifted, 2/3 cups soft unsalted butter, 1/2 cup water, 2 tsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and beat until smooth. Add coloring of your choosing if you like. Add more sugar for a stiffer frosting.