I fought the chocolate and the chocolate won. I managed to curb the cravings over the weekend, but I really wanted chocolate cake, and finally caved in today.
My favorite chocolate cake recipe was printed in a cookbook my mom's church put out in the late '70s or early '80s... we've been making it for almost as long as I can remember! It's quick, it's easy, it calls for common ingredients and requires no fancy tools. No mixers, no beaters, no bowls. Just a cake pan and a fork. Well, measuring spoons and cups, too.
It's not a fancy, take-to-the-neighbor's-dinner-party cake. It's a weeknight family dessert cake. Why? You may understand better when you see the recipe:
Sift together in an 8x8 pan:
1 cup sugar
3 heaping tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
Make three holes in mixture. Put 6 tbsp. cooking oil in one, 1 tsp. vanilla in second, and 1 tbsp. vinegar in third. Pour 1 cup cold water over all. Stir with fork. Bake 1/2 hour at 350. Frost with favorite icing.
Isn't that fun?!? When you're a kid, this is the coolest, weirdest, bestest recipe ever. Now that I'm 30-something (eek!), it's still cool and weird and great, and I know exactly how and why it's so good. Do you...? =)
Because it's mixed and baked in the same pan, it's not exactly a cake you turn out (I've never dared try it, anyway!) and frost all fancy-like (hence the no-dinner-party comment). You leave it in the pan, smear on whatever you want, and serve it as is. Tonight, I sprinkled a couple handfuls of milk chocolate chips on top as soon as it came out of the oven, then put back it in the (now turned off) oven for just a minute. The chips melted and I spread them out with a rubber spatula to make an instant icing. I have no idea where I read that trick, but it stuck with me, and this is the first time I've tested it. It worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself.
It never comes out of the pan perfectly -- especially the first couple of pieces! But what it lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for in flavor. It's a moist, fluffy, chocolatey, satisfying cake.
Someone recently posted a comment to this site asking if I have an "RSS Feed." Being quite new to blogging and website design, I have heard of such a thing, but have no idea exactly what it is. I got onto the help forum of my server (blogdrive.com) and asked how to provide such a feed. Several questions and answers later, I think I have something. So, for those of you who know what this all means, there is a little orange "xml" button near the bottom of the left-hand column of my home page. I think it's what you're looking for... please let me know if it isn't (or even if it is so I know I figured it out!)! Thanks. =)
Yesterday was a cool, rainy, dismal, very un-summer-like day here. It made me want to bake something. I was dying for something ooey-gooey and chocolatey, but logic took over. I decided to be a bit more practical and bake something healthy that I can take to work for breakfast. After poring over several cookbooks, I went back to one of my favorites, "Oat Cuisine" by Bobbie Hinman (you may remember this book from my "sweet, tart, and crunchy" post two weeks ago). Once again, I was craving the crunch of cornmeal. Somehow, though, I ended up making Toaster Oat Bread. I had made it once before, with good results, so it seemed like the thing to do. Plus, it would give me something new to blog about. =) It's described as a "heavy, crusty bread... really enhanced by toasting."
It is heavy, and it is crusty, and it's fantastic. I love dense bread you can really sink your teeth into. And this is so healthy, too, with 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving! And, of course, it is, as advertised, greatly enhanced by toasting. I like it with just a touch of butter (I am addicted to European style cultured butter!) and a good bit of honey (locally produced, of course). Here's the recipe, as printed in "Oat Cuisine:"
Toaster Oat Bread
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat bran
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups skim milk
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 375.
Lightly oil a 5x9 inch loaf pan or spray with a nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, mixing well.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and milk and let stand 1 minute. Stir in honey and add to dry mixture, stirring until all ingredients are moistened.
Place mixture in prepared pan. Smooth the top lightly with the back of a spoon.
Bake 35 minutes, until crusty and brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
Remove to a rack to cool.
Cool completely, then slice and toast.
It's really easy, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. I didn't make any changes to this recipe at all... except for inadvertently leaving out the baking soda. I left something out of my banana cake a couple of weeks ago, too, didn't I? Must be old age. It still turned out great, though. Maybe it would have risen slightly more if I'd remembered the soda, but no one will ever know if I don't tell. =) Oh, and I used 1% milk, because that's what I had in the fridge!
And in case you were wondering -- I took care of my cornmeal craving this morning with some multi-grain pancakes!
I was so tired and antsy to get away from my computer last night, I forgot to wax poetic about how good my ice cream cones were! Just the cones. I think I covered the yogurt pretty well.
The cones are great. A lot of ice cream cones have a tendency to leak melted ice cream out the bottom, or get soggy. These ones did neither, though I guess a much warmer day might be a better test. Sugar cones are always too sugary for me, and waffle cones are always too styrofoamy. Hardy Mills cones are neither. They have a good, solid structure. The flavor is very mild. The texture is crunchy and toothsome -- probably due to the corn flour. I love what cornmeal and corn flour do for baked goods.
Hardy Mills Organic "Wholesome Waffle Cones" aren't the cheapest treats in the world -- about $3 for a box of 6, but there are only two of us, and we don't eat that much ice cream. They're an affordable indulgence. Next time, I think I'll try Stonyfield Farm's raspberry swirl yogurt. Mmm... raspberries. I'm also contemplating making some of my "pie parfaits" in these cones. Portable Pie Parfaits -- sounds like fun, doesn't it? I bought white chocolate pudding mix, and I have raspberries in the freezer. Mmm... raspberries.
If you live anywhere near Belfast and Searsport, Maine, you may remember a short-lived shop that sold "Pie Cones." Now they can only be found at a few fairs and festivals around the state (like the National Folk Festival). They are well worth hunting down. They're part of the inspiration for "Portable Pie Parfaits."
Just because I took the time to take this, and because technology allows, I'm going to leave you with one more picture of yesterday's yogurt cones...