August 28, 2010

Favorite Chocolate Cake

Last week I bought some baking supplies from Roberts. Everything was 50 percent off, so I had to go and buy some. I ended up with two 10-inch square cake pans and some cake decorating tools. After that morning I had been itching to put the pans in use and treat myself with some delicious chocolate cake.

I had used this chocolate cake recipe before but not in this size of a pan. I knew the cake is quite fragile and requires freezing before frosting. I was surprised that I was able to get the thin layers out of the pans without tearing but the I noticed they were a wee bit flat in the middle. Solution: After freezing the two layers I cut them in half, forming four 10x5 inch cake layers. I could rotate the layers, thus getting rid of the sagging middle. This would make a more of a loaf shaped cake with four layers, which sometimes is a nice change from the regular round or square cakes.

Now, I have the hardest time making chocolate frosting that I would approve of. Other people say the frostings I've made have been fine, but I just don't like them. Blah... So I went with a store-bought frosting. Thanks to Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Chocolate Frosting I loved this cake. (If anyone has an awesome chocolate frosting recipe, I would love if you shared it with me!) I just spread a real thin layer of frosting in between the layers and then covered the outside with another thin layer. Perfect.

Chocolate Cake

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup  water
4 heaping Tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1/2 tsp salt

2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in a small amount of water
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour your pans. (You can use 9x13 pan, 8- or 9-inch rounds pans, square pans, jelly roll pan, cupcake pan... your choice!)
2. Bring butter, water and cocoa powder to a boil in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Stir flour, sugar and salt together. Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture and mix gently.
4. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, baking soda in water, and vanilla. Stir into batter, and then add sour cream. Mix GENTLY, do not overmix. Pour into your choice of pan(s) and bake until done in the center.
Time depends on your choice of pan. I baked my 10-inch square pan for about 25 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees, jelly roll pan would probably take about 20 minutes and cupcakes maybe 15 min at 350 degrees. Just watch your cake, and once the center feels firm to the touch, test with a toothpick for doneness.

Remember, it'll be easier to transfer the layers for frosting if they are frozen. Of course you don't need to do this if you are making a 9x13 cake or cupcakes.

So, I had an epiphanie while making this cake. It is almost exactly the same recipe as the Chocolate Sheet Cake I've posted. The only difference is the amount of salt, and that sour cream is substituted with buttermilk. Go figure. No wonder I love both.

P.S. Rumor has it this is the cake recipe used at Magleby's... ;)

August 23, 2010

Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler

This is the goodness that warms my heart and my body when I go camping. I take a bite and I feel I'll survive. 

Easy Peach Cobbler

1 box of yellow/white cake mix
2 large cans of sliced peaches
1 can of Sprite/7 Up

1. Line your dutch oven with tin foil. Drain juice from peaches and dump peach slices in the dutch oven. Pour Sprite over the peaches and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Then sprinkle cake mix evenly over the peaches. Place small cubes or slices of butter over cake mix. I usually use 1/4 cup of butter, sliced thinly. Cover with lid.
2. Place dutch oven over 10 to 12 coals and put 14 to 16 coals on top. Cook cobbler until the top is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Eat plain or top with vanilla ice cream. (Now, WHO has vanilla ice cream with them when they go camping?!? No one that I know, but you can make this at home too, so it's just a suggestion. A delicious kind. Yummmm.)

I make this at home in our electric oven occasionally. I just make it in 9x13 casserole pan and bake it in 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. It has always turned out better in the dutch oven, but I still love it even when made at home.

August 20, 2010


Here's a new recipe that I wanted to try. I had never even thought of making bagels until I happened on a recipe that uses breadmachine to make the dough. How simple is that?

The process was pretty simple but I made the mistake of placing the bagels on waxpaper to rise. I thought: "I can lift them off easier that way!" I do not know how that made any sense to me. Don't do that. They stick. You'll be pulling them off the paper and they'll resemble bagels no more. You'll have a gnarly used-to-be-shaped-like-a-bagel lump of dough. *Sigh* I must have been dehydrated/tired/low on sugar and chocolate that day.

Whether it was because of my waxpaper idea or some other glitch, my bagels turned out somewhat flat. First this deflated me (no pun intended), but after tasting one and making a tuna sandwich out of another one I really didn't mind the flatness. It was actually really good. AND (yes, there's more) I found this post by David Lebovitz on *drumroll* FLAT bagels! I must be really in with the food blogger crowd.

Now I tell myself that my bagels were flat on purpose.

Bread Machine Bagels

1 1/8 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsps salt
3 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast

3 quarts water
3 Tbsp sugar or molasses

Egg white/olive oil
Poppy seeds

1. Place water, salt flour, sugar and yeast in a bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle and start.
2. After cycle is complete, let dough rest on a sligthly floured surface. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten balls and poke a hole in the middle with your thumb. Twirl the dough around your finger to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole. (Make the hole pretty big, it'll get smaller during rising and boiling.) Let bagels rise, covered, for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot bring water and sugar/molasses into a boil. Sprinkle an ungrease dbaking sheet with cornmeal. Carefully transfer bagels into the boiling water, few at a time. Boil for about 1 or 2 minutes, turning half way through. Drain briefly on a clean towel. Arrange bagels on the baking sheet. Glaze tops with egg white or olive oil if desired (I didn't), and sprinkle with poppy seeds or other favorite toppings.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until well browned. Enjoy!

Note: David Lebovitz's site is going through reconstruction and the link may not work for a few days. Sorry.

August 17, 2010

Zucchini Bread

Good things are happening in my kitchen today. Eggs, sugar, oil, chocolate, zucchini... Mmmm... Definitely good things!

This is one of my favorite Fall recipes ever. The baking bread makes your house smell divine and eating a slice with a hot cup of chocolate is heaven.

Now I remember why I always gain weight in the Fall. I blame the bread.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate and I tend to use more since we love chocolate)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x5 loaf pans.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Beat in oil. Once incorporated mix in white sugar with a spoon. Add zucchini and vanilla and stir. Stir in flour mixture in batches, adding chocolate chips with the last batch. Stir until combined. Pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake until golden brown, for about 50-70 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans. Let cool completely on a cooling rack, or dig in like I do. I don't have much patience when it comes to Zucchini Bread.

The nice thing about making Zucchini Bread is that you can use all those humongous overgrown zucchinis that are taking over your or your neighbor's yard. You're really just doing a favor to yourself or your neighbor. It's a sacrifice to make and eat this. Really.