Friday, August 3, 2012

Emergency Chocolate Cake!

Lesson 1: Never never never ever never agree to use somebody else’s recipe when tasked with making a cake for a special occasion.

Never. Got it?

Ei yi yi. My good friend’s mother wanted me to bake a chocolate cake for their wedding anniversary. In fact, she had clipped out a specific recipe for the “Best-Ever Chocolate Cake” she wanted tried.
Day of, I happily set about baking the cake. . .

And it was like something out of an L. M. Montgomery novel. I greased and flowered the pans. . .I beat the ingredients to perfection . . . I set the pans in the oven, blithe, carefree. . . I was careful not to open the oven betimes lest the layers fall and form craters in the center. . .I took them out at the peak of perfection and let them cool in their pans the prescribed 5 minutes. . . And then I tried to turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling.
Well. They wouldn’t budge. The cake was dry and crumbly and came out of its pans in pieces.
Maybe I could glue it together with frosting and hide its fissures?
The frosting recipe supplied turned out to be so stiff that it just ripped the cake apart even worse.

This was no ordinary chocolate cake. This was the Best Ever Chocolate Cake made specifically for a 54th wedding anniversary celebration. And it was a dismal, mortifying failure.

I offered to pick up a store-bought cake on my way over, but it was insisted that my botched cake would be good enough whether it looked like a 3 year old’s dried-out mud-pie or not.
I couldn’t bear to bring over that ridiculous looking cake and as a store-bought simply wouldn’t do, I set about making another cake.
Time was running out. I needed a tried-and-true recipe that would be moist, decadent, and fool-proof. The answer?
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
For when you can’t risk failure.
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. baking cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini
  • powdered sugar and/or chocolate frosting
  1. In one bowl, beat the butter, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet alternately with the buttermilk, beating until good and smooth.
  4. Fold in the zucchini.
  5. Spread into a greased 9x13 and bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until a pick near the center comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, or cool thoroughly and slather on your favorite chocolate frosting.
Cook’s Tips
- A stick of butter can be swiftly softened in the microwave. With my 700 watt, I microwave it for 15 seconds, pausing in the middle to flip it over.
- Don’t usually have buttermilk on hand? Me neither. Put 1/2 a Tbsp of white vinegar in the bottom of your cup measure, top off with regular milk, and let it sit for five minutes. Instant fake buttermilk!

Do you have any fool-proof favorites?