Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bake a cake!

My youngest daughter loves to make this cake -- I do too because a) I get cake at the end, and b) I get to have fun with little My in the kitchen.
Little My, by the way, is a character from the Moomintroll books. As you can she, she's a spunky little kid (actually a mimble, and actually REALLY little -- like the size of an ant -- although the drawings in the book are a little inconsistent with this bit of knowledge derived from the story). The point of all this is that Little My is one of said daughter's numerous nicknames. Just so you know.

This cake is great fun because you hardly need any dishes and it has only a few ingredients. It comes from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen. This heafty tome is a definitive baking book -- it even says so on the cover. I've come to the conclusion though that I don't really jive with big fat books like this -- there's just too much in there. I'm more of a 60-recipe-cookbook-kind-of-guy (I can add that to my stereotype of being a fixed-gear-bicycle-loving-piano-plunking-harley-riding-fly-fishing-beer-swillin'-crappy-chess-playing-art-dabbler-who-cooks-and-gardens).

Now that we have all that out of the way, you'll need some cocoa, flour, sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, baking soda (to make a volcano with the vinegar, yeah!), and vanilla extract. You should also preheat your oven to 350.

Sift 1 1/2 cups of flour into your baking pan. I use a 9" round one, but this will also work with an 8" round or an 8" square (apparently a 9" square will take 5-7 minutes less to cook -- see what I mean about definitive?). You can put some parchment in the pan and try to get it out of there later, but I go for an unprepped pan and just serve it right out of the tin (but that's the kind of guy I am -- maybe I should add that to the list too....)

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add your cocoa mix to your flour and stir it around.

Once the dry stuff is evenly combined, make three wells in the surface (a big one, a medium one, and a small one -- just like Goldilocks probably would).

In the big dent, put 6 tablespoons of oil (I've used peanut, olive and grapeseed before -- the recipe actually calls for canola). In the small dent, put 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. In the medium one (this one is last, because...) add 1 tablespoon vinegar (... the volcano part will start -- don't get your hopes up, it doesn't really volcano BUT the vinegar and baking soda will start reacting and you want most of this reaction to happen in the oven so that the cake rises, so don't fart around at this point: get this puppy in the oven soon!)

Finally, pour a cup of cool water over the whole thing and start mixing.

Don't get too rough with the batter, but get it combined in a no-nonsense way (we're racing against the volcano, remember). You don't want to overwork the batter or it will start to turn into bread instead of cake. Just make sure it is pretty much combined, and especially work into the corners of your pan to avoid huge dusty flour globs. Pop it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes (or -- the baker's awesome caveat -- until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the centre: this almost always takes my oven about 38 minutes).

Let the cake cool before you cut it. If the cake comes out of the oven at about the same time that supper is ready, it should be set for eating by the time your dinner is done. Just sayin'.

Serve up with a sprinkle of icing sugar, and enjoy your journey to the peaceable kingdom.


  1. This looks like a fun project for me to do with my granddaughter. Thanks!

  2. Aces! Glad to spread cake happiness around!

  3. We made this cake this afternoon and it's in the oven now. My granddaughter Rosi is now bugging me to make vanilla whipped cream to go with it.

  4. LITTLE MY HERE!!!!! I remember making that cake daddy!!!!! It is good to anyone looking at my post, try making it!!!

  5. Here are the modifications for a grown-up version of this. Instead of vanilla extract, use rum extract (or better yet, real rum). Instead of using regular cocoa, use the really dark kind. When cake cools, top with ganache.

  6. Kindred spirits of the world unite! Awesome ideas! YAAAAY!!