Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful Alphabet: R

R is for Recipes.

A couple of weeks ago The Apprentice was in our kitchen with one of her friends, and they wanted to bake something. I offered the use of my recipe binder, and The Apprentice explained to her friend with what sounded like a bit of awe, "My mom's had this binder forever. This book has everything I grew up eating."

Well, it hasn't been exactly the same binder all this time (my first big one fell apart and I was forced to decant the recipes into two smaller books), and not everything I make is in the binder--we do have some other cookbooks. (I just managed to get Stephanie O'Dea's new book, Make It Fast Cook It Slow, from the library. I had to wait impatiently while somebody else brought it back.) But The Apprentice's appreciation is noted.

So in her honour, I am reposting the recipe that I think has gotten the most Google hits here over the past few years: A Small Chocolate Cake That's Not So Wacky.

When I was young, my mom used to make that chocolate "wacky cake" recipe where you make the three holes in the top and pour different things in the holes. This is even faster (no need to dig holes), makes a cake just the right size for a small celebration, can be made dairy-free, and is so idiot-proof that it would make history out of all those jokes about inept newlyweds and other kitchen-phobes baking burned and fallen cakes. Somebody should have given a copy to Arthur too when he was trying to make a cake for his grandma. ("It says put in 1 lb. flour. What's a lub?")

Small Chocolate Cake, from The Kissing Bridge Cookbook by Marcella Wittig Calarco


1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup flour [You might need a little more flour, as much as 1/2 cup more]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla


In a large bowl, beat the egg, and beat in the sugar, cocoa and butter until smooth. Add the flour, soda and baking powder and mix well. Pour in the boiling water and vanilla and mix. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350°F, 20 to 25 minutes or until it tests done. Leave it in the pan and frost with your favorite frosting.

This cake has had many incarnations at the Treehouse. It was used for Mr. Fixit's Brown Dirt Birthday Cake, frosted with chocolate icing and covered with chocolate cookie crumbs for dirt. I think it was his Turntable Cake too (the tone arm was a breadstick covered with frosting). One year it was our Dance Recital and Starting Advent Cake. I was making chocolate chip icing for it (on the stove) but it was kind of thin, so I stirred in some mini marshmallows, thinking they'd melt, but they didn't really. I spread the icing on the cake with all the marshmallows sticking out of it, and it got oohs and ahs from the Squirrelings. ("Like a hot chocolate cake!")

And now you have the recipe too, so there's no reason to go wacky if you have to make a cake.

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