|What’s in YOUR refrigerator?|
I believe in tradition, even if I have to make one up every year, and so it is with solemn pride that I report this is the thirty-fifth year in a row I have screwed up the fudge-slathered fudge cake in a completely new way.
It’s never come out right, but it never comes out wrong the same way twice. I am not a baker. A baker understands things about temperature and chemistry and eggs. I have the reputation in my family as a baker on account of I do bake things, and I bake things because I like eating baked goods. In much the same way, Dave is a cook because he likes eating, um, food. We come as a set. It usually works out.
My baking works out mainly because it’s hard to throw flour and sugar and butter and cream together without getting something yummy out of it, even if you have to rename it.
Usually I mess up the fudge frosting on the fudge-slathered fudge cake. It either sets up too strenuously and slabs onto the cake like shingles, or stucco, or something other than smooth shiny slatherance; or, conversely, it doesn’t set up at all, and we have to chase it all over the counter with spoons. In all likelihood this is a matter of temperature and if I were an actual baker I would have a sense how hot to bile it and for how long, OR I would have a thermometer and precise instructions. The recipe doesn’t mention a thermometer. It merely suggests I cook it on medium low for about ten minutes. On the test kitchen’s stove, using the test kitchen’s saucepan. The home cook is on her own.
I messed up the frosting a little this time. Calls for six ounces of unsweetened chocolate, for which I substituted the three ounces I actually had on hand, two ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and a pale, desiccated old ounce I scrounged from my neighbor, because it’s not really Thanksgiving unless you’re missing a key ingredient and the stores are all closed.
I don’t usually mess up the cake. At least, not any more than it’s been messed up every year. It involves whipped-up egg whites and whipped-up egg yolks. You’re supposed to fold the egg whites into the rest of the cake batter. “Folding” egg whites is one of those baker jokes. Real bakers laugh themselves silly over putting that instruction into a recipe, because it is not possible to mix fluffy egg whites into chocolate and ground nuts and keep any loft in them at all. There’s really no point. Nevertheless, I try for it every year. The two cake layers bake up fluffy and then swoon into sad little cratered crackers as they cool.
This year, however, I dropped a bit of egg yolk into the egg whites and couldn’t persuade it out, so I just went ahead and tried to whip it all into Soft Peaks. I did not achieve Soft Peaks. I achieved an apathetic foam floating on a sea of snot.
Hell with it, I said. It’s not like this cake ever stays fluffy anyway. I mashed all the egg portions together with the nuts and chocolate and poured the whole mess into the pans, and I will be dogged if the cake didn’t turn out better than it ever had. It’s not fluffy, of course, but this time it’s not actually concave.
Well! The frosting turned out perfect too. Without any doubt, this was the most successful fudge-slathered fudge cake in 35 years. Somewhere, there’s a cabal of bakers cackling their fannies off thinking of how much pointless bullshit they get people to do. I should’ve known right off the bat when the first instruction was “grease two pans and then line with tin foil.” Because everyone knows how much tin foil loves to stick to pans! Very funny, baker cabal.
Next year I’m going to throw all the ingredients at once into a big bowl and chuck eggs into it from across the room, fish out the shell fragments, and mix. It’ll be fine.
Maybe I should post photos of the persimmon bread my husband made, which boiled over in the oven, leaving such burning that I cleaned the oven last night.
I do believe I might have considered buying a new oven.
Too bad the recipe was only sponsored by Reynolds and Crisco. If Pillsbury had been involved, I'm sure you would've been instructed to "dust greased pans with light coating of flour" before lining the whole mess with the (truly pointless) aluminum foil.
Loved the image of chasing chocolate around the counter with a spoon. No point in letting anything chocolate-related go to waste! The exercise also keeps it from going to waist.
Ah and Hah! In fact–and I left this out–the recipe says to grease two pans, line with foil, grease the foil, and flour the foil. Took me ten years to realize I didn't need to grease the pans first. I guess you're right–it COULD have called for a double-flouring. As it stands, you could have your oven pre-heated before you even start mixing ingredients.
grease, line then grease and flour? That's crazy. Forget all that, just grease and flour or grease and line with baking paper which is non-stick, then pour in your batter.
The tin foil is supposed to go all the way over the edges of the pans so you can lift the delicate little princesses out.
Just like baking paper…
Even though I am an excellent cook, and a pretty decent baker of some things, cakes are just not in my skill set. They invariably come out like a surrealistic representation of a cake.
But the frosting is redemptive.
Looks gorgeous, and delicious…
Even grown men don't usually take more than a cubic two inches of it.
I'm pretty sure I know what the real problem is and it's not you, it's the recipe. Who puts nuts in a cake? I don't even want them in my soft cookies. Once you put those nuts on the counter beside your other ingredients, all the ingredients that truly belong in a cake conspire against you. It's been going on for 35 years and that's a pattern, not a wacky conspiracy theory.
Well, you grind the nuts so it's like flour. Dave strongly believes that nuts and chocolate should be eaten separately. He goes for a middle piece.
I'm with Dave on that.
It's true – put enough fat and/or sugar in a recipe and you can't go wrong.
Your cake looks excellent. Very rich and moist. A once-a-year event for sure!
I did discover that the frosting is plenty adequate for a regular two-layer box cake, and I wish I could get away with that.
I think I should try a slice before commenting!!
You would try a slice before taking a nap.
Your best effort yet! In the next few years there is a chance that it could get better! Just keep on trying!
Are YOU in my family too?
Maybe we should compare DNA!
Yours, like mine, is probably 40% butter.
Ha! Soft Peaks are hard to achieve. Glad it turned out well in the end. Having not made a pie crust from scratch in years, making one proved to be challenging on Turkey Day. I froze the butter, chilled the bowl and measuring spoons & used ice water. The first attempt failed, but the second was a hit.
It took several, SEVERAL decades, but I finally realized the store-bought pie crusts were not only superior to my attempts, but worth the cost in time, labor, and frustration savings. Never going back! (Glad yours came out okay, though.)
I should really try that. Pie crusts make me crazy. I can do them, but not without swearing a lot.
My mom taught me to make pie crusts when I was still very young, so I've always found it easy. I don't use butter, though, but organic lard (makes it flakier than my mom's standby Crisco), and I chill the dough a half-hour before rolling it out. I can't seem to roll it in a perfect circle, though, so I'm always tearing off bits from here to stick on there.
I call that "shreddy." I do it too. Haven't tried lard, though.
On another note, that IPA is pretty damn good. I also recommend the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, this years is not bad at all. Cheers!
Duly noted. And yes, it is.
I have never made fudge. There are reasons (see above)
I use the standard fudge recipe on the marshmallow package.
I suggest forgetting the tinfoil and using proper baking paper. I have nom idea what you might call it over there, but you grease the pans as normal, line them with this baking paper, then pour in your cake batter. The paper doesn't stick to the pans or the cakes.
I can find the recipe for the fudge-slathered fudge cake on line? Or will there be a zillion different versions? Perhaps you could just print yours for us. Pretty please? "folding" in of eggwhites isn't so hard, mostly a matter of slowing turning things over from top to bottom until combined, without actually beating.
And by the time you have slowly turned things over enough that it doesn't look marbleized, you might as well not have bothered to whip them up in the first place.
I printed out the recipe the last time I wrote about this cake. I'll find that and copy it here. Hang on.
FUDGE-SLATHERED FUDGE CAKE
Begin making a day ahead of serving.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 T brandy
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use chips)
¾ cup walnuts
2 T all-purpose flour
6 eggs, separated, room temperature
pinch of salt
½ cup sugar, DIVIDED
1 t vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
For cake: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 8-inch square baking pans with 2-inch high sides. Line with foil, extending over sides. Grease and flour foil. Tap out excess flour. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add brandy and chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool. Finely grind walnuts with flour in processor.
Using electric mixer, beat whites with salt in large bowl until soft peaks just begin to form. Gradually add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Beat yolks in medium bowl with remaining ¼ cup sugar until pale yellow ribbon forms when beaters are lifted. Beat in vanilla and chocolate mixture. Add ground nut mixture and beat until just blended. Fold ¼ of whites into batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until t ops spring back lightly when touched in center and cakes begin to pull away from pan sides, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks overnight.
For frosting: Stir sugar and cream in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutues without stirring [my notes: let it burble pretty good for about 12 minutes]. Pour mixture into bowl. Add chocolate, butter, and vanilla and stir until melted. Cool frosting to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours. Refrigerate frosting until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. [My notes: it can get TOO cold to spread, so check it periodically.]
Lift cakes from pans using foil sides as aid. Trim any uneven edges. Invert 1 cake onto plate. Remove foil.
Spread 1-1/4 cups frosting over cake layer. Top with second layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Press walnuts on sides of cake. Let cake stand at least 1 hour at room temperature.
Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.
Thank you. With the brandy in the cake and the cream in the frosting it sounds a lot like a recipe I had once for rum cake with ganache frosting.
I WANT SOME FUDGE CAKE!
And speaking of baking…I just bought a new tool, a roller thingie that looks like a big fat paint brayer, only instead of a rubber rolling bar, it has about 16 notched blades that let you shred your piecrust into a lattice. Although I don't have room for it in the Indispensable Baking Tools drawer (already overfull of other IBTs), and have survived all these years by manually (!) latticing my once-a-year pie, I really felt, after seeing it on Martha Bakes, that Mrs. Claus (and Martha) would want me to have it, and instead of Martha's $44 French one, I got an $11 one on Ebay. It said it was "new." If it arrives with hardened, dried up pieces of piecrust in it, I'll be very disappointed.
Maybe though it would be like sourdough. You could scrape out the pieces and sproing out a new crust.
That sounds like a handy tool. I've never latticed a pie in my life.
If you want to send me the recipe, I can rework it for you. Genoise can be tricky, especially with nuts. A creamed-style would be easier. That said, I have a corn casserole dish from my grandma I've messed up in a different way each year, and I'm fond of it just for that reason.
You could fix anything. You could probably fix a bull. I printed out the recipe a couple comments up…
Yup. I fixed a bull (banded him) this spring. Hoping for a heifer in February.