I’m discovering that in this world of foodie blogging, there are all sorts of blogging “events” where folks from around the world converge in their kitchens to creat new masterpieces based around one chosen theme. Imagine my excitment when I found the Sugar High Fridays event. Two of my favorite things (sugar and Fridays) brought together by a new favorite (food blogging). This month’s theme is “Going Local!” and from the second I read about it I knew exactly what I’d be making.
In my family this cake is simply known as “Chocolate Cake.” It’s the only chocolate cake that ever gets made, and for good reason. Every time I make it, and especially when I make it for a new audience, it always gets lots of ooohhhs and aaahhhs and various other near-orgasmic sounds. It’s a relatively simple recipe with just a few varitions from your standard sheath cake. But the thing that always gets me about this cake (besides the fact that it is sinfully delicious) is that people have really never had anything like it before. And I’ve never seen it come out of any other kitchen or bakery.
A few months ago, though, a coworker brought in a cake his wife had made because she’d had some leftover buttermilk that needed to be used. My ears immediately perked up. Turns out she’d found this recipe in an old southern cookbook and decided to give it a try. I was so excited to see that somewhere else in this great big world this fabulous cake was being made and enjoyed.
This cake really is a joy for me to make, not only because it’s so wonderful, but also because I feel connected to my roots when I make it. And it’s the best kind of connection really, because it doesn’t involve an overly long and tiresome grin-and-bear-it family gathering. No, when I make this recipe that’s been passed down for at least five generations I get to put on my rose colored glasses and focus on the fun my mom and I have had in the kitchen (and conveniently forget how it was always too small and we always argued over whether or not you really needed to beat the eggs for 5 minutes each). It’s also fun to look back at the original recipe, which uses words like “oleo” and ”heapin’” and really reflects my great-grandmother’s fastidious nature.
Just to be safe, I wanted to confirm that this is in fact a “local” recipe. After a few key search terms and 15 minutes of surfing, Google (wonderful thing that it is) told me that our Chocolate Cake falls into the category of traditional Texas sheath cakes. Who knew we were the inventor of the sheath cake? Certainly not me. Oh and the use of buttermilk in this recipe also seems to be a southern thing. So here’s a delicious chocolate cake, rich in taste and Texas tradition.
1 cup water
3 heaping tablespoons of coca
1 capful of vanilla
1/2 cup Crisco
1 stick of Land O Lakes sweetcream butter
2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Preheat oven to 350. Put first 5 ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occassionally to mix. Let this mixture cool to the touch. While the cocoa mixture is cooling, put the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix slowly to combine. Add cooled cocoa mixture to the flour/sugar and mix well. Add one egg and beat for 5 minutes. Add second egg and beat for an additional 5 minutes. While the last egg is mixing, mix the buttermilk and baking soda, stirring gently. Fold into batter. Pour into a greased 9×13″ pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cover and seal with foil immediately after removing from the oven. Allow cake to cool with foil covering. This will take several hours.
5 tablespoons of milk
2 capfuls of vanilla
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
1 stick of Land O Lakes sweetcream butter
2 1/2 – 3 cups of powdered sugar
In your worst medium-sized sauce pan bring first 4 ingredients to a low boil, mixing well with a whisk. Let cool slightly and add 1 c. of powdered sugar. Mix well with hand mixer, and continue adding powdered sugar in 1/2-1 c. incriments. The icing is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Spread over cooled cake.