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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Cake Post: Double Chocolate Cake for T. And me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m going to be a serious home cook, it’s time to learn to bake. It's time to become a person who can bake a nice, comforting loaf of bread, a batch of great cookies, or a birthday cake.

But here’s the thing: I don’t bake. I flip past the breads and desserts in cookbooks and cooking magazines. I didn’t even have an Easy-Bake oven as a girl. This is one life skill I haven't yet mastered.

So, I bought an excellent cookbook on breadmaking, made homemade pizza dough, and –drum roll– bought a Kitchen-Aid mixer. I’m quite sure this is a rite of passage that I missed along the way, because no other single act has made me feel more like an adult in the kitchen.

In another rite of passage, my stepson T. turned 13 last weekend. I couldn’t think of a better occasion to bake a cake – a genuine made-with-love-from-scratch cake. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a whole lot of time for such endeavors at that moment. Or that I’ve been fighting excruciating back pain for the last month (much better now, thanks for asking).

And, between you and me, T. really isn’t even a huge fan of cake. He’d rather have a cookie or some ice cream. But, I was not to be stopped. It was the principle of the thing, and it was time to bake.

Choosing the recipe was simple. I’ve had my eye on
Kelsey The Naptime Chef’s award-winning Chocolate Bundt Cake. And I paired it with the frosting from Chocolate Dump-it Cake, by Amanda Hesser’s mother.

I stocked up on fresh baking powder and soda, bought gourmet cocoa powder and put out two eggs to come to room temperature (this much I know). Then, at the last second, we ran out to buy a bundt pan, because as a non-baker, of course I didn’t have one. Next, Wes brewed some coffee – decaf, for the recipe, and we poured a glass of wine for ourselves. And set out to make some cake.

I sifted the dry ingredients into a bowl, then added the sour milk (one cup of room-temperature whole milk mixed with one teaspoon white vinegar; allow to sit for 10 minutes), the coffee and the other wet ingredients into the Kitchen-Aid. So far so good. I combined the dry ingredients slowly into the mixer, like all the recipes recommend, enjoying the hum of the machine, watching for it to turn into a smooth, glossy batter.

It worked! Yes, it took me 40 minutes to get the batter in the oven – twice as long as it should have, and, yes, I was completely wiped out when we were done, but that’s not the point. I wondered what took me so long.

The next day, we threw a little surprise party for T, and my little guy, who stole my heart from day one – was suitably surprised.

The cake? Sophisticated, dense and deeply chocolately, with a soft blanket of tangy, sweet icing. Pretty sure it was a hit. Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

So now, the boy is a teenager. And I’m on my way to becoming a baker.


  1. Excellent!!! I hope that you're loving the mixer! I absolutely love mine (and I also enjoy baking quite a lot!) Enjoy :-)

  2. I just love chocolate cake, and this one sounds like a fantastic one. Congrats on biting the bullet and baking a cake! Can't wait to see what you bake up next. :)

  3. I love this post. It's my favorite Fresh Eats post ever. Now bring in some baked goods to work, please.

  4. I can commiserate with you about baking taking twice as long as it should! I am SUCH a slow baker, but it's usually worth it!

  5. I am so proud of you ... once you master al of this you can teach me to bake too! Why does it make me post as anonymous? This is Abbie typing ...