As you may or may not remember — and it’s been so long, you may not! — we kind of bundled together our Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations with a pre-celebration of our granddaughter’s first birthday (perfect Miss Ava turned 1 year old on March 22nd!).
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I set us a festive table, with all the colors of the Irish flag — green placements, white napkins, and orange ribbon tied ’round the napkins.
I cut greenery and flowers from the “Shamrock Plants” growing in our garden to decorate the table — affordable and easy!
They also float nicely in a bowl of water:We spent a good deal of the day outside, on our back deck — including when we had Miss Ava’s birthday cake!
Given that Ava isn’t speaking yet — well, at least not in words we can fully understand — I asked her parents what kind of cake they thought she might like. I can’t say that I was surprised when our dear boy suggested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. 🙂
My Chocolate Cake recipe is based on the recipe for Cocoa Fudge Cake from one of the editions of my Betty Crocker cookbooks. It is easy to make and also halves well — which is what I did for Ava’s birthday, baking it in two 6″ pans to make a half-sized two-layer cake (see picture at the top of this post, which features the cake on our back deck, just prior to being devoured).
Whenever anyone in the family asks for Chocolate Cake, this is the cake they mean. It’s one of the first things Andy (aka our dear boy) and I made together. He was home sick from school, but in the mid afternoon, he was feeling better. He was rooting around in the pantry, then closed the pantry doors with a disheartened sigh.
Me: What’s wrong?
Andy: I’m not finding what I want.
Me: What do you want?
Andy: Something sweet. Something chocolate. Cake.
Me (quickly double-checking supplies): We can make a chocolate cake if you want.
Andy (rechecking the pantry): But we don’t have any cake mix!
Me: No, but we have cocoa powder and flour and eggs and sugar and all the other things we need to bake a chocolate cake.
Andy (starting to get a wee bit more hopeful, but still harboring some doubts): But what about the frosting?
Me: We have cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar and butter and all we need to make the frosting, too.
Andy (starting to perk up considerably): Well, okay!
And so we baked our cake and made our frosting — and had an absolute blast doing it! (Well, I did, anyway — I am hoping Andy remembers it fondly, as well.)
Ava left little doubt that she enjoyed the cake!
So the next time you need to make some chocolate cupcakes to share or a chocolate cake, I suggest you give this tried and true recipe a go — it tastes as yummy as it smells!
(Well, at least my memory of it is that it tastes yummy — seeing as I can’t eat concentrated sugars anymore, I can’t eat this cake, but I do enjoy making it for others who can enjoy it.)
Chocolate Fudge Cake (Makes one cake or approximately 30 cupcakes; halves easily)
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (or 2 cups cake flour)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa, plus another couple of heaping spoonfuls, just ’cause
- 1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavored Crisco)
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour cake pan (two 8″ or 9″ round pans or one 13″x9″ pan).
- In a medium-sized bowl, with a mixer, cream together shortening and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, and cocoa powder. Mix in salt, baking soda, and vanilla.
- Add flour and buttermilk in a bit at a time (about 1/3 of each at a time), ending with buttermilk. Beat on high speed, scraping bowl as needed, for about 3 minutes.
- Bake until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean (about 35 to 40 minutes for a rectangular pan, or about 30 to 35 minutes for round pans). (Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes.)
- Remove from oven. Cool slightly in pan (about 10 – 15 minutes), then remove from pans onto a cloth-covered baking rack to finish cooling.
- Cool completely before frosting.
NOTE: To make two 6″ layers, as I did, halve the recipe, prepare two 6″ cake pans, and bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (Makes enough for a full-sized cake — adapted from the Chocolate Lover’s Frosting recipe on the back of my Hershey’s Cocoa tin)
- 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder, plus another heaping tablespoon or two
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
- 5 to 6 tablespoons of milk, divided (I just eyeball it)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the softened margarine or butter with 1 cup of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, the vanilla, and a couple splashes (tablespoon or two) of the milk until creamy.
- Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar, adding milk as necessary, until desired consistency is reached.
And go on ahead, sing along with Sir Paul — you know you want to! And besides, it’s your birthday too, yeah! 😉