Easy Chocolate Cake and a Dreidel Cake (a Vanilla Cake
with chocolate icing, decorated as a dreidel cake, above with a very pleased little
Once the newspaper’s food section printed their
Thanksgiving recipes on Thanksgiving Day (I was annoyed). Well, I’m now topping
that by writing about two of my holiday cakes – just when many of us are on the
first day of our New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. Yet these cakes are
easy, great for all seasons, and birthdays anytime.
This Vanilla Cake
is very similar to the mace cake in a previous blog, this time with vanilla and
no mace, though with the same lovely texture:
Ingredients: 4 large eggs (brought to room temperature);
2 cups all-purpose flour; 2 teaspoons baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 cup
milk, preferably whole or 2%; 1 stick unsalted butter ( ½ cup); 1 teaspoon
One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place the oven rack
in the middle position. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan, and knock out
excess flour. (Because I am a little apprehensive about cakes sticking, I
lightly butter the pan, cut parchment to fit the bottom, and then butter and
flour the parchment; this saves heartbreak and also is helpful when one is
cutting apart and shaping the cake.)
Two: Beat eggs with sugar in a large bowl of electric
mixer at high speed until tripled in volume and thick enough to form a ribbon
when beater is lifted. (7 to 8 minutes in my Kitchen-Aid – can be longer with
other mixers or handheld mixers.) Add vanilla.
Three: In another bowl, thoroughly whisk together the
flour, baking powder, and salt.
Four: Bring milk and butter to boil in small heavy
saucepan, then remove from heat.
Five: Add flour mixture to egg mixture, mixing until just
combined. Stir in hot milk mixture. A thin batter will result.
Six: Pour batter into pan, and bake approximately 30
minutes until cake is pale golden color and a wooden pick comes out clean when
inserted in center.
Seven: Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes. Then remove to
wire rack, and let cool completely. You can cut it into desired shape when
completely cool. Then frost.
For the Dreidel Cake shape: A wax paper pattern folded in
half is helpful –using the pattern for the pointed end, cut triangular shape of
the folded paper, leading to the point; for the “stem” spinner end, cut
rectangular shapes away from the bottom corners, leaving the bottom stem. Face
made by making a stencil out of pattern and using sprinkles for the eyes and
mouth. Frosting: Chocolate ganache (or your icing of choice) – to make ganache,
bring ¾ cup of heavy whipping cream to boil. Take off heat and add 8 oz.
semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (if using chocolate chips, use best quality);
stir, and let stand about ten minutes. Then 1 teaspoon of vanilla can be added,
or 1 tablespoon Rum or brandy or other liquor. When the ganache seems
spreadable, use a spatula and ice the cake
(if the ganache becomes too stiff, put pan in a larger pan of warm
water, and re-melt it a bit).
Cake – moist and yummy:
Many cakes made with cocoa do not have the rich chocolate
taste that cakes made with melted chocolate have – this one is very chocolaty;
I use Hershey’s cocoa – nothing fancy.
Ingredients: 6 tablespoons unsalted butter; 1 1/3
superfine sugar (if out of this, just put regular sugar in your food processor
with knife blade, and process for about 20 to 30 seconds – it’s great for iced
tea too); 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten; ½ cup plus 2
tablespoons cocoa powder (plain, unsweetened); 1 cup water; 1 1/3 cups all-purpose
flour; 2 teaspoons baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt.
One: Preheat oven to 300 degrees (lower than usual for
baking a cake); grease 2 eight-inch layer cake pans with parchment paper on
bottom of pans.
Two: Cream butter and superfine sugar together until
fluffy, either in mixer or by hand. Add eggs gradually, beating well each time.
Three: Mix cocoa powder with water in a bowl (I add the
water a little at a time at first). In a separate bowl, mix together (with a
whisk) the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Four: Add half of the flour mixture to the butter
mixture, and mix gently and smoothly; then add all the water-cocoa mixture to
the bowl, and then end by mixing in the rest of the flour mixture. When the
batter is smooth (avoid over-mixing as you make sure everything is smooth),
pour into prepared pans, dividing the mixture into two pans. Bake them in the
center of the oven for 25 minutes (mine took 10 minutes more, seems I need a
new oven thermometer), until the cake is firm and just coming away from the
sides of the pans. Cool on rack completely before removing (careful, for these
cakes are a bit on the delicate side).
You can frost these with your favorite frosting as a
layer cake, but I usually use one layer and carefully wrap the other to freeze
(for it does well in the freezer for a month or so).
This Christmas we took one layer that I baked in the
shape of a Christmas tree (I found a Christmas tree pan that held the
equivalent of an 8 inch round pan); I had frosted it with ganache (what else? –
see previous recipe for ganache). It was a big hit, along with a pumpkin pie
and lemon squares, that had been requested.
I froze the other half, baked in an 8 inch round, and we
shared it with our dear friends after a New Year’s Eve lunch. I had even enough
ganache left from Christmas to freeze, so I frosted it again with ganache, but
this time Papa and I wanted a “Mound’s” Cake, so I sprinkled a generous amount
of the lovely coconut I had over the ganache, but only over half
the cake, since one of our friends isn’t a
coconut fan. “Does that mean I can eat half the cake?” he asked. That led to a
discussion of the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” a saying I had
never understood until learning that the original was “you can’t eat your cake
and have it too;” now that makes more sense.