Thursday, April 23, 2009

You CAN have your cake, and eat two.

My poor puns aside, I have to say that whoever once said "you can't have your cake and eat it too" obviously did not celebrate birthdays in our house. In our house on birthdays, we make enough cake to both have AND eat large slices of, without fear of shortage. This is because I like to bake, and I love my husband, and this means I gladly bake him multiple cakes on his special day. Last year it was a carrot cake and a Guinness Stout Cake, and this year was equally lavish with cake.

This year for Sam's birthday we celebrated with a duet of cakes, starting first with our new birthday favorite, the coconut cake which we ate with friends at his birthday party, and then moving into the tried and true classic from my childhood, the Colorado Cache Chocolate Fudge Cake, which we had on his actual birthday (and as leftovers for many days after).

I remember this cake fondly. My mother baked it for almost every birthday growign up. As children we were always allowed to choose our cake flavor on our birthdays, and almost everyone choose this cake year after year. She would bake it in a square pan, because we loved frosting and always relished the corner pieces, and a square pan ensures four corner pieces (for four daughters) and lots of edge pieces ripe with frosting. For summer birthdays the cake was always adorned with roses from the backyard garden.

One year our dog Bo jumped up on the counter and ate a large portion of my mom's birthday cake off of the cake plate. I have rarely seen my dad so angry. First, he was livid that the dog ruined my mom's cake, and second, he was upset because dogs and chocolate equal an expensive vet bill. Since chocolate is poisonous to dogs, my dad called the vet for a quick remedy. As luck would have it, the home remedy for preventing chocolate poisoning in dogs also gave my dad an opportunity to extract some deserving punishment on Bo. Thus we all discovered that two tablespoons of salt dumped down the back of a dog's throat, followed by holding the dog's muzzle closed to ensure he swallows, is an excellent way to induce dog vomiting (and thus extract the poisonous chocolate). I have never seen a dog retch as much as poor Bo on the fateful night. But then again, he did kind of deserved it for eating the cake off the counter, and the retching probably saved his life.

And, just in case you are wondering, we ate the cake anyway. My father sawed off the dog-infested portions of the cake and refrosted it a la Food Network's Ace of Cakes show. We ended up with an oddly tiered, sort of lopsided, and definately unique cake for my Mom, but we coudlnt' waste the remaining good parts. The cake was that important as a birthday tradition in our house.

I like this cake and was delighted to bring it into my own adult life as a birthday tradition this year for Sam. The cake has many merits, most of all as a vehicle for an excellent frosting. I must admit thought that I do differ with its self proclaimed "chocolate fudge" title. The cake is certainly chocolate, but it is nothing like fudge. Perhaps the frosting is what pushes it into this category? Any way you name it though, this is a good cake. Keep it away from your dog, and don't forget to serve it with heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream. Happy birthday dear Sam.

Colorado Cache Chocolate Fudge Cake

This cake was a classic during my childhood for birthdays. It bakes into a light, spongy, airy cake with an almost chewy crumb. It is the perfect vehicle for a good frosting, as it is not too dense, not too rich, but certainly stout enough to hold up to a heavy slathering of chocolate butter cream. The secret of this cake is the boiling water. I don't know what it does, but it give the cake its unique and memorable texture. Take note that the batter will be very runny after you add the boiling water, far more runny than you would expect from cake batter, but that’s part of the secret. Don’t stress, just put it in the oven and bake.

Also, this is a particularly delicious chocolate frosting with different recipe than your usual buttercream. You might consider one and one fourthing the recipe to give you enough for a very thick frost. See the below photo for proportions, courtesy of my mom who was bright enough to write it all down in the cookbook for posterity and ease. Any extra frosting will keep in the fridge almost indefinately and taste delicious on brownies, cookies, or graham crackers.


3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, or on low heat in a glass pyrex in the microwave. Set aside to cool. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat butter until soft. Add brown sugar and eggs, and beat until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and add cooled, melted chocolate. Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with sour cream, until just combined. Stir in boiling water. Pour into greased and floured 9″ pans. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until tests done (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Cool on baking rack.


4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine chocolate and butter in a saucepan until melted. Combine sugar, milk, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Stir until smooth. Add chocolate mixture. Set bowl in a pan of ice water and beat with a wooden spoon until frosting is thick enough to spread.

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