Sunday, December 31, 2006

baking for the 40-year old boy.

life is not a series of events to lose weight for. the wedding, the reunion, the other wedding, the other reunion...please god no, let that not be my life.

life is, in my mind anyway, a series of events to bake for.

and so, yesterday was such an event. it was my friend/director/boss's 40th birthday, and if any occasion deserves a cake made from scratch it's a 40th birthday party for a guy like s. he wanted chocolate-chocolate and so, chocolate-chocolate he got.

the cake recipe comes from a friend's mama in North Carolina and is probably the best chocolate cake i've ever made or eaten. uber-moist, but not gooey, and easy peasy. the frosting is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe that i found in her book Feast: Food to Celebrate Life (appropriate, no?). it has a bit of sour cream in it which gives it a slight tang, and i used a bit of bittersweet chocolate instead of all semi-sweet for a bit more, ahem, sophistication.

Hershey Syrup Cake
from the kitchen of Mrs. Doty

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large bottle Hershey's Syrup

I used my pink KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment, but you could easily make this cake by hand. Good for the biceps. Cream butter and sugar together. Gradually add eggs one by one, mixing to combine. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, mixing to combine. Uncork the Hershey's syrup and pour it in there (getting a little on your fingertips so you can sample it. Must check the quality!). Beat on medium for a couple of minutes until all lumpy lumps are gone and the batter is smooth and shiny. Pour into 3 round 8-inch cake pans, greased and lined with parchment paper (or not. a generous spray of Pam will work fine too). Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. This is a really moist cake, so it really shouldn't come out perfectly clean. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then unmold the cakes and let cool completely. Then, frost!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast: Food to Celebrate Life

3/4 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly. You don't want any burning or seizing. Allow it to cool a bit. Add the corn syrup to the chocolate mixture, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix to combine. Whisk in the sifted confectioner's sugar (ya gotta sift or you'll end up with lumpy frosting. Lumpy mashed potatoes - good. Lumpy frosting - bad). Nigella does all of this using a food processor, but I'm too lazy to pull that beast out for something this simple so, whisk i will. Frost away! Lick whisk.

...and for the perfect post-Christmas baking outfit. see below.

my neighbor bought me these socks and flip-flops for Christmas, and i couldn't wait 'til next year to debut them. we food porn-starlets must have our signature outfits; Nigella's got her cleavage-bearing tops, i've got my thigh-highs.