Friday, August 12, 2011

Southern Homemaker Cake

I start work in a restaurant on Monday. I couldn't be more excited! I'll finally get paid for being around food even if I'm not making it, instead of being around payrolls (which is equally as exciting with all those paper cuts...and ringing phones...and freezing cold offices. Just, you know, not for me.). And as with any new job, I'm a little nervous. But I'm not nervous about what I'll be doing or who I'll be working with. No. There's only one thing I'm nervous about....


I feel it's kind of important in this blog for you to get to know me as much as my food, and I've tried pretty hard to give you some insight into who I am and what I'm about. Well, you wanna know something? I'm clumsy.

Memorable Clumsy Moments:
-Four years old: Mama thinking I need glasses because I constantly miss the doorway and run into the wall.
-Ninth birthday: Missing a branch while climbing trees with all my nine-year-old friends and breaking my wrist.
-Not too long ago: Falling on the treadmill while running at the gym. Worst. Fear. Come. True.
-Daily: Falling upstairs, whacking my head on the top of the car door, and/or tripping over sidewalk cracks.
-Miss New Jersey USA 2009 Pageant: Round two of evening gowns, tripping over my dress in front of hundreds of people.

Okay, that didn't really happen, but I pictured the scenario nonstop until it was over and I successfully was able to move one foot in front of the other on stage in blinding light. How horrified did you feel for me just then though? You were probably like, "Wow this girl is really is embarrassing and if I'm seen reading her blog her embarrassing-ness is probably going to seep through the screen and infect my life forever so I should probably just exit out of this now while I still have a chance." But you don't have to do that, cause I'm not that embarrassing.

I digress.

So now that I'll be wearing high heels every day and walking constantly, the risk of tripping greatly increases. I'm sure I could throw together a line graph or a flow chart that demonstrates these relationships, I mean, if you're more of a visual learner.

I wonder if classy Southern women are clumsy? I bet they're not.

So I made this cake today. I call it my "Southern Homemaker Cake," just because when I looked at the finished product I could see it sitting on a dining room table next to a giant plate of fried chicken, like it was effortlessly thrown together (I wish I could say it was effortless...). And don't question the cake and fried chicken combo--you know you'd love that meal.

This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe. Technically calls it "Chocolate Mocha Cake," but no one ever picks up on the coffee flavor, so I just use it as plain, amazing chocolate cake. I usually change recipes around and tweak them here or there, but this one's so good as is, no tweaking needed.

Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder
1 cup hot water (I use hot coffee)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9" round cake pans. Put all ingredients, except espresso powder and hot water/coffee, in mixing bowl. Combine and mix on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Dissolve espresso powder in hot liquid then slowly add while mixer is on low speed (batter will be on the thinner side). Transfer to cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.


Vanilla Buttercream
I use Wilton's recipe, which also doesn't need tweaking!

1/2 cup butter*
1/2 cup shortening*
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
*Sometimes I use a full cup of butter and omit the the shortening, or all shortening can be used for a more pure-white frosting.

Cream butter and shortening together. Slowly add sugar until completed incorporated. Add vanilla and milk and whip until light and fluffy. More or less milk can be added for a softer or stiffer frosting.

Cherry Buttercream Filling
1 cup vanilla buttercream
3/4 cup chopped cherries, divided
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar, more or less depending on the sweetness of the cherries

Simmer 1/2 cup of the cherries, water and sugar together over medium heat until liquid reduces by half and a syrup has formed. Cool cherry syrup. Slowly whisk into vanilla buttercream until fully incorporated. Stir in remaining cherries. Frosting will be thin and best used as a filling.

I decorated the cake with fondant and gum-paste blossoms, but it by no means needs the extra work! Because the amount of work is directly related to the amount of devastation when you trip carrying the cake and and it explodes on the floor. Luckily this hasn't happened...yet. 

PS- Happy Birthday Mrs. Miley! 

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