Sunday, July 31, 2011

I "let them eat cake" all the time . . .

Several people have asked me recently for the recipe for the chocolate cake I always make (birthdays, special guests, Core Group meetings, just because) . . . lately, since Lakshi and Vijay have become such helpful little elves in my kitchen, I am making it a lot more frequently. That's the one thing they always agree would be the perfect "job" to help me with.

This is the classic Joy of Cooking recipe, with a few adaptations for India:

Preheat oven to 200C.

Prepare your cake pans (two 9-inch rounds or an oblong 9x13): After too many sad experiences in which half the cake stuck to the centre of the pan when I tried to take it out, I have started lining the bottom with paper. Nothing fancy - I use ordinary brown paper if I have it or even an old large-ish magazine envelope. Trace around the bottom of the pan onto the paper (use a pencil, not a marker!), then cut on the inside of the circle/rectangle you drew so it's the perfect size to fit inside the bottom of the pan. Butter and flour around the bottom edge of the pan, then place the paper circle/rectangle inside and butter and flour that as well.)

Cook and stir on a very low flame, watching like a hawk as it can burn easily:

1 cup Cadbury's Cocoa Powder (don't skimp, and don't even think of using Weikfield's)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Remove from heat when thickened.

(Sift before measuring: I'm just putting this because all the books say you must - I never do it):

2 cups cake flour (maida)

Resift with:

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Grind to a fine-ish powder:

1 cup sugar

Beat until soft (I do this in the food processor):

100 gms Amul butter

Add the sugar gradually. Beat until very light and creamy.

Beat in, one at a time:

2 egg yolks

Still in the food processor: Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with thirds of:

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir the batter until smooth after each addition. Stir in the chocolate custard. Whip (a hand mixie is best for this; if you don't have one, use a wire whisk or a fork) until peaks form and are stiff, but not dry:

3 egg whites

Fold them lightly into the cake batter (a quick whizz in the food processor will do it).

Pour into prepared cake pans and bake about 25 - 35 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn the cakes out on to racks to cool.

Variation: You can also make cupcakes, which children adore. If you don't have a cupcake tin: use katoris, being sure to grease and flour each one carefully. Lining with paper doesn't seem to be necessary for small cakes. Cupcakes are fun to try different color frostings and decorations on - with a plate full of these, you don't need to worry about decorating the table!

When completely cool, ice with:

100 gms Amul butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup Cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsps Hot Coffee

Beat it all together well, add vanilla (1 tsp) if you have it (I usually don't, so I leave it out)

Taste to make sure it's the way you like it (add more sugar or more cocoa if necessary)

Ice the cake and decorate with sprinkles, fresh pansies, an artfully placed green leaf or two.

Serve generously!

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