Sunday, May 10, 2015

One-trick pony

The summer after my freshman year in college I mailed a birthday cake... for real! California to Connecticut. The trick, I learned, was to bake it directly into glass tupperware and then ship the whole thing. Flat-rate boxes are key. I'm still a little proud of it.

I'm also still making that cake. Turns out if you go to college claiming you can cook, you get asked to make a lot of birthday cakes. I'm not much for baking on my best days, but even still... I hate cake. It's boring and full of sugar. Why doesn't anyone ever want a birthday salad? If birthday salads were a thing, I can confidently say I would have 20% more friends.

Where was I? Oh right. Making cake for the friends I actually have.

This week I decided to make a pacman cake, ostensibly for my friend's birthday but really because it was on my life list. I'd envisioned something like this, or this, and had ruined a whole batch of batter before I realized that I am not actually a wizard. Why would I insist on making pacman multi-layered? Why is one of my mixers broken? Why don't I have smaller cake pans?

This recipe deserves better. It may be the only cake I know, but it's absolutely earned its keep. I've made it for birthdays, going away parties, the first rehearsal of the semester... it's moist, rich and absolutely perfect. It will impress college freshman and chorus directors alike. It makes unbelievably good cupcakes. And sometimes, if you're patient, it will even become pacman.

Happy Sunday,

Chocolate Cake with Buttermilk and Coffee
Slightly adapted from a recipe by Janet Dalton

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use hershey's dark)
1 T baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350. Combine eggs and sugar, either with an electric mixer or by hand, until light colored. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all liquids in a second. Incorporate the coffee mixture and dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternating but starting and ending with dry. Pour into prepared pans* and bake until a pick comes out clean- about 20 minutes for cupcakes, longer for cakes.

*I find this recipe makes around 24 cupcakes, and that I consistently overfill the muffin cups. THIS BATTER WILL RISE A LOT

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