Last night was our monthly Book Club meeting, a belated birthday celebration for our Book Club leader/coordinator, and an exciting moment for one of our members, and well, for all of us. The occasion called for cake, and I knew just the cake it had to be.
The cake recipe is from a kid-friendly cookbook I received as a promotional free item from Gold Medal Flour a long time ago. The icing recipe is from Wilton Cake Decoration class materials, but you can use any icing you want. It’s your cake. The book cover is for the first novel from Lorrie Thomson, our friend and book club member, to be released in the fall. Look for it! Read it! Tell your friends! (oops-photo credit Ann Grummon!)
“Xtra-Special” Celebration Cake, from Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook, Gold Medal Flour, 1997
3 cups all-purpose flour (the recipe specifies Gold Medal Flour, but how will they know what kind you use?)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (pretty sure they mean cocoa powder, and that’s what I always use)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vinegar (they don’t specify, but use plain white vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups cold water
1. Heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Grease 2 round pans, 9 x 1 1/2″; dust with flour.
2. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. (I measure everything in, and then use a whisk.)
3. Mix oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir oil mixture and water into flour mixture real hard until well blended, about 1 minute. Immediately pour batter into pans, dividing evenly. (I start out stirring very carefully to moisten it all, then really go to town with a wooden spoon for a minute or so.)
4. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes; let cool (on a rack) 10 minutes.
5. Remove from pans; let cake cool completely before frosting. (Removing from pans can be touchy; if you really want to be sure, line your cake pans with a round piece of parchment paper after you have greased and floured them.)
Wilton Chocolate Buttercream Icing
I’m not sure I’m supposed to share this *secret* recipe with you here, so if I inexplicably disappear in the next week or so, blame it on the Wilton Cake Police.
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (We all know this means Crisco, but I have also used Spectrum Organic All-Vegetable Shortening and it works just fine. Just add the water carefully to make sure you get the right consistency.)
1 tsp flavor extract (this time I used 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp almond extracts, but you can just use vanilla)
2 T water (to start with; you will probably have to add more to get a thinner spreading icing-this will depend on what shortening you use, the humidity where you are, the alignment of the planets, etc.)
1 pound (yes you read that right) pure cane confectioners’ sugar, by weight.
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T Wilton Meringue Powder (If you don’t have this and don’t intend on decorating a lot of cakes, don’t bother with it. It’s only for stability of icing decorations and flowers and such. The icing will do all right without it.)
a pinch of salt (optional)
Cream the shortening, flavorings, and water. Add the dry ingredients (sift them if you need to, to remove lumps) and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. Here’s where you test the consistency for spreading; if it’s still very stiff, add water a tablespoon at a time until it’s as thin as you want it.
I love this cake because it doesn’t use my mixer, I don’t have to wait for anything to come to room temperature so it’s a great impromptu cake, and it is darn-near foolproof. It comes out moist and delicious every time. It’s just as enjoyable plain as it is with icing. And it’s chocolate. What’s not to love?
Make a cake for someone you love, put Equilibrium on your books-to-read list, and I’ll see you soon on the Road.