I must have been around 10 years old when my teacher at school demonstrated baking cake in a cooker as part of the SUPW. It was a basic vanilla cake with glazed cherries and tutti frutti and without any frosting. I remember how giggles turned into squeals when the cake was out. We all happily ate the cake baked by “us”. “Was it all? A recipe and a cooker? really? Then it must be the simplest thing in the world!” the child in me thought.
Soon after that incident was my kid sister’s birthday in June, and I offered to bake the cake for the small kids party we had organized that evening. I chose a recipe titled “Steamed chocolate cake” from a decade old”cookbook” that came free with a cooker. With a song in my heart and a whisk in my hand, I mixed the cake batter and kept it to bake. I was as confident as a magician who was about to turn a handkerchief into a hare under a hat. And when the time was up, I opened the cooker lid, only to find a gooey, chocolaty mess in the pan instead of a cake. What had gone wrong? Was there a Genie inside the cooker who held a grudge against me? I frantically read and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out if I had missed anything when I noticed that unopened packet of baking powder on the kitchen counter. And that was it. I can never put in words how I felt at that moment but what really broke my heart was the disappointment over my sister’s face and the tears in her eyes. Luckily, my parents had a backup plan that cheered up my kid sister and the party went on as planned. But I could never take that failed cake out of my head. or sight.
Many birthdays have been celebrated since then and I have been baking cakes for family and friends for quite sometime now. So for my first ever blog post, it had to be a chocolate cake recipe as a tribute to my first (failed) chocolate cake, and to my sister, who again celebrates her birthday this month. This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes sans any exquisite ingredients. You see, this cake was baked with much love and that is the main ingredient.
Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
(Adapted minimally from smittenkitchen.com)
Yields one 9 inches round cake or 16 small cupcakes
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
175 grams firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
• Heat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment.
• In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (~3 mins); scrape down bowl.
• Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and beat until combined, then add the buttermilk and mix again.
• Scrape the bowl down well and don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.
• Place your flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a sifter and shake it over the batter bowl. Stir on low until just combined; scrape down bowl a final time.
• Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth flat. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in cake pan, then flip out onto rack or serving plate to completely finish cooling before frosting.
Creamy peanut butter frosting:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup low fat cream
• In a bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
• Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
• Add the cream, one tablespoon at a time and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
• Smeared or swirled, it will taste heavenly, on its own and on the cake.