I want to be a baker.
And not even a professional baker. Just a confident baker at home doing her thing. Right now I’m kinda so-so.
Yesterday I was talking with a sweet blogger friend and expressed my desire to be a better baker. She tried to reassure me that it was no biggy and that there are so many other things to cook. She’s right. And I do cook a wide variety of things that I don’t think twice about whipping up, but when it comes to baking I tense up.
I have to have everything just so. Clean. Organized. Solitude for no interruptions. I get a little anxious. It’s crazy really. It’s just butter, flour, sugar and other simple ingredients but there’s something about the exactness of it all that makes me clinch my butt cheeks a little too much.
There’s no rushing when baking either. It takes a certain amount of time. There’s usually no budging involved. The funny thing is that I was a chemistry major for a short period.
But still, measuring, mixing and adding heat shouldn’t throw me. Maybe I need a Bunsen burner to work with.
Anyway, to combat my short-comings with baking, I recently purchased Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. No messing around here folks. I’ve got a can do attitude and that, along with tight cheeks, can work magic.
I’ve enjoyed drooling my way through the cookbook. Dorie makes it sound so simple, so common – of course, for her, it is. But when I saw her description for the Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake, “…it looks fussed over and yet it takes no more time, effort or talent to make than a batch of brownies,” I knew she was talking to me.
Plus there was no picture, which usually bothers me, but I figured no pressure to measure up to some gorgeous photograph. Perfect.
This cake was just as Dorie said it would be, simple ingredients and quick to put together, with yummy results. And, I know it’s trite, but if I can do it you can do it. The cake is a dense, rich, dark chocolaty, yummy goodness with subtle ribbons of sweet raspberry flavor running through it. It’s ut into three layers which are spread with raspberry or cherry jam or preserves. I used raspberry this time around. Then the giant sandwich is frosted with a dark chocolate, sour cream frosting. Sour cream, which is used in both the batter and the frosting, gives the cake a special sumpn,’ sumpn.’
The cake is fairly basic. Start by sifting all dry ingredients together. I like to use Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder, and used it with this cake as well. It was perfect.
In a separate bowl beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then, one at a time, add the eggs followed by the sour cream. Next gradually add dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix.
That is one thing I’ve learned so far, to not overmix batters, or you’ll end up with a tough cake – which is fine if you’re in the market for a door stop.
After mixing in all dry ingredients, pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake. When baking is finished and cake has cooled, the fun begins. The plan is to cut the cake into three layers length wise.
The layers I cut weren’t perfect by any means, but once frosted who will know? Basically the top becomes the bottom and vice versa. Place the bottom layer (which is really the top) on the bottom, cut side facing up, and spread half of the jam/preserves over the layer. Jiggy? (Take note that my cake was not overmixed – hardly. Swirls of butter and sugar were showing but it didn’t matter to me – it was yummy.)
Frost the top and sides of cake however you like.
A chocolate sauce, ice cream or whipped cream would be a great topper finish for this cake. But, most certainly, a tall glass of cold milk is a must have with this deliciousness.
I usually post the full recipe here when trying out a new recipe, but this time, I’m not. I know, bummer. Dorie can’t be duplicated, adapted or improved upon. Go buy her book or borrow it from your local library. Again, it’s called Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
It’s a sweet treat to behold. A real page turner.
Or how about any good baking tips you can pass along?