It is my birthday this week. Birthdays in my family generally induce a frenzy of baking, bordering on the obsessive side. I wanted to make something to bring to work, and have been perusing food porn for days. I found an amazing recipe for a chocolate layer cake with marshmallow frosting. Then I had to snap myself back to reality. I am serving dinner for my birthday party, plus an ice cream cake that I am making myself, so a layer cake with fancy frosting is probably overachieving. I found a simpler recipe instead, and decided to try to minimize my stress levels. I'm the only one who cares what I serve, anyway.
I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, titled "Everyday Chocolate Cake". The name in itself seems less stressful than regular cake, right? But because I still cannot let my birthday neurosis go, I had to add some pizazz. Therefore I paired it with a mascarpone cream and freshly picked berries. We had some friends from out of town come by for afternoon coffee, so I doubled my batch to make two loaves of cake.
Big girl was in a baking mood, so she got to do all of the measuring, sifting, and pouring.
|Creaming the butter and sugar|
|Big girl informs me that she already knows how to properly measure flour because Grandma taught her.|
|Two loaves in the oven.|
|All baked and ready to go.|
|My husband picked strawberries (and cleaned, while taking care of two kids) while I was at the grocery store.|
|The powdered sugar dusting the top is so lovely.|
Since we had guests, I felt weird about photographing my plate after dished up a slice and topped it with a dollop of the cream and a pile of berries. So I didn't get a shot of the assembled product. It was rather attractive, if I do say so myself. I had to take a picture later. In addition to the strawberries, I had also been in the woods across the street , while I waited for our guests to arrive, and picked wild blueberries and mini wild strawberries to serve.
Everyday Chocolate Cake
For 1 loaf-pan sized cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 7/8 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk (I used regular milk and 1 T apple cider vinegar, not having buttermilk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (1/2 t. ground vanilla bean)
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 5/8 ounces) + 1 T cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (Smitten kitchen says to use baking soda, but it turned out great with powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, stir together 1 T. melted butter and 1 T. cocoa powder to form a paste. Use it to brush inside of loaf pan instead of greasing and flouring the pan. This makes the outside of your cake stay a lovely chocolate color while allowing it to be removed from the pan with ease.
In stand mixer, beat 1/2 c. butter until creamy. Add sugar and cream together with the butter until fluffy. Then add egg and combine, then buttermilk and vanilla. It is a bit of a strange consistency at this point, but have patience. Remove from mixer, then sift in flour, salt, baking powder (or soda if you choose to go that route), and remaining cocoa powder. Stir until combined, scraping sides and bottom to make sure it is well blended. Pour into pan and bake at 350F/165C for 70 minutes, or until tester/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Cool pan on rack for about 15 minutes, then remove and cool the rest of the way on a platter. Serve sliced, topped with mascarpone cream (or whipped cream) and berries.
1 c. Mascarpone
1 c. Heavy whipping cream
4 T sugar
1 t ground vanilla bean (or 2 t. vanilla extract)
With handheld mixer, beat together until stiff peaks form. Serve.
Our guests asked for the recipe. I think that is a good sign. The toddler ate some cake but mostly ate all the berries off of her portion, as expected. The big girl took several helpings of the mascarpone cream and left the cake mostly untouched, as well as not allowing any red food items like berries to touch her plate. The hubby and I both thought it was delicious.