Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Some things are meant for sharing, and I am not the only one who is glad this was shared with me. Hershey's Chocolate Cake.

I love this cake, and so does everybody else. When I asked my friends on the Contessa's Kitchen website for a good birthday cake recipe, to a (wo)man this was the recommendation and for good reason. It's amazing. And easy.

So, recently I was on a mission. I had to create 'literary food'. Whilst Madeleines were the first thing to come to mind, and from my childhood, heart shaped cakes from 'The Little House on the Prairie, not to mention the intoxicating turkish delight from 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', if there is anthing that is instantly gratifying, it's chocolate cake. So, with Michael Rosen's poem 'Chocolate Cake' firmly in my mind, I set to work, creating the cake that had made so many birthdays taste just that little bit better.

This is an American recipe, so you will need to acquire yourself some measuring cups, if you haven't already. An invaluable addition to any kitchen if you ask me.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (though I use Green and Black's Cocoa, being on the wrong side of the pond)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons  Bicarbinate of Soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very runny; don't worry!). Pour batter into prepared pans.   

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick (or similar) inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup cocoa (I used Green and Black's again)
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In the mixer, beat together the butter and the cocoa.  Alternately the icing sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Taste. It might need a touch of salt to bring out the chocolate flavour. (Seriously!)

I am no expert at frosting a cake. I thank the Lord that the homely look is quite appealing to most. My way of icing this cake was as follows:

Place smallish pieces of greaseproof cake under the bottom layer of the cake, so that they are poking out from underneath enough for you to pull them away later. (Reason: If you are icing the whole thing then any splodges and spills as you ice the cake can be pulled away on the greaseproof paper, leaving a neat presentation at the bottom of the cake when you have finished - a tip from the Barefoot Contessa, and I am forever in her debt).

Frost the top of the bottom layer, then place the top layer on top of the frosting to create the sandwich cake.

Frost the top of the cake first, then with a spatula, take the icing down the sides. Have a cup of hot water handy. You can dip the spatula in the hot water to clean the spatula off and ensure smooth(ish) spreading.

Once I have frosted the whole cake, I try to tidy it up by bringing the frosting upwards from the sides and spreading it in an even pattern towards the centre. I then decorate the cake with whatever I have in mind to hide the inevitable flaws. (A tip from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook: Once again I am indebted!)

I decorated this with Maltesers. It was a triumph.

I haven't personally tried the variations below; but they are there is you fancy giving them a whirl:

VARIATIONS: ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool

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