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Monday, April 4, 2011

from The Little Catholic Kitchen: A Pretty Cake for Easter Sunday

by Kathleen Blease

For more recipes from The Little Catholic Kitchen click here.

Mary Lou's Chocolate Cake

A pretty two-layer cake for Easter Sunday.
From our family picnic, this is my mother's cousin's wife's chocolate cake. I use a seven minute frosting and include the recipe below. A friend took a bite of this cake and said, "It tastes like a childhood memory."

This is very moist. If you use a dark cocoa, it will make the cake dry, so do stick with a basic baking cocoa. Good ol' Hershey's works great. Nine-inch round pans are necessary here; if you use 8-inch rounds, you will have a messy oven in the end. Spray the pans with non-stick spray that has flour in it.

I like to make the chocolate layers whenever I have a spare moment, and then I freeze them wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil. When I need the layers, I take them out of the freezer and open the foil. By the time the frosting is ready to use, the layers are just right for assembling.

The seven minute frosting is very much like a meringue. It glides on beautifully, looks glossy, and forms beautiful peaks. But, if you prefer, you can take a metal spatula dipped in warm water and glide it over the icing to make a smooth almost seamless effect--very professional looking.

Whenever I make this cake, I ALWAYS hear "Wow!!"

For the cake:

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk
1 c. boiling coffee

Yields: one 9-inch two-layer cake

Mix all ingredients in one bowl, except the coffee. Stir until fully combined and smooth. Add the coffee and thoroughly mix again. This is a very wet batter. Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cake should seem firm to touch but not dry. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then remove from pans and cool completely on racks.

For the seven-minute icing

Yield: This really is enough for two cakes. You can half this recipe without any problems. If you do, use two eggs whites.

3 large egg whites
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 c. cold water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 inches of water to a simmer. Use a large pyrex bowl as a double boiler by placing it in the sauce pan. It should sit in the pan without touching the water. With the bowl OUT of the sauce pan, combine all ingredients with a whisk. Place the bowl inside the pan. With a hand mixer, beat the egg mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat and beat 3-5 minutes longer until it cools. Use immediately.

Whip ingredients over simmering water
until stiff peaks form.
Extra frosting can be refrigerated for up to a week, but it must be re-whipped. However, I find that this is not always successful.

Assemble the cake

Note: No crumb coating is necessary here!

Items needed:
cake plate
wax paper
metal spatula
warm water in tall glass

To frost cake, place a dollop of icing on a plate. Place the first layer of cake on the plate; this helps glue the cake in place. Place four strips of wax paper under the layer of cake to protect the plate. Place more icing on top of the first layer and smooth out to the edges. Be generous! Place second layer of cake on top. Ice the top of the cake. Again, be generous. Then ice the sides.

After you've frosted the entire cake, you can use the back of a spoon to form peaks in the icing. Simply place the spoon in the icing and pull up. Do this over all the top of the cake.

The more peaks the better!

If you prefer a smooth professional finish, dip a spatula in a tall glass of warm water and shake off excess water. Then hold the entire spatula level and/or parallel to the cake and smooth icing to make a seamless effect.
Hold the knife parallel to make a seamless effect.
To finish, carefully and slowly slide out the strips of wax paper from underneath the cake. Voila!

You might want to try covering the same chocolate layers with one of my favorite icings, Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing. It's from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Marcy Goldman, p. 315, originally published with her Yogurt Banana Cake. I double the recipe. We've enjoyed this terrific combination for my sons' birthdays, homeschool co-op picnics, and Boy Scout events. Click here to read my review on A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. I am turning to this wonderful baking book once again this week. My son, Ben, has requested a special and surprise cake for his birthday dinner. I'm sure I'll find one among its recipes!

Here are the same chocolate layers covered
in Marcy's chocolate cream cheese icing.

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