This week, I got to relive the fun parts of my childhood. My cousin from the East came for a visit. This reminded me of summer days when I was a kid and my cousins would come to visit. For a blessed few weeks, we were released from daily chores and got to play. We climbed trees, built dams in the river, floated on rafts, caught crayfish, swung on a tire. All the things you think of when you think of summer days as a kid.
Because we both have families now, I made a large chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. As you can see, it barely fits on my stand (and I damaged the icing on the backside a little while sliding the lid on).
For two days, we fished, swam, drank wine on the porch, and ate cake. Summertime perfection.
Believe it or not, this was a brave new world for me. My husband loves cheesecake, but(strangely) he prefers the cheater kind from a box mix that you just have to chill, not bake.
Weird, I know.
I decided to try to persuade him in a more culinarily-sophisticated direction by making this cake from scratch and actually baking it. It was a fun experience and I got to use my new Springform pan. I thought it was restaurant-delicious and so did my 13-year-old son. However, my husband politely choked down a piece and did not reach into the fridge for more. I should probably count my blessings that he is TOO easy to please!
Truth is, I don’t need an excuse to make a cake. But having a holiday is a very good reason to pull out the pans and pastry bags. I love patriotic holidays, get teary-eyed at any flag-raising display or performance of the National Anthem (even ones for other countries; the Olympics nearly kills me), and am a huge lover of Americana. So, of course, I have to render my love of country in frosting. You see the logic.
An old family recipe brings back memories of people. The aroma and taste of this cake (my Grandmother Yvonne’s recipe that she made often) takes me back to special occasions and Grandma’s house. A tiny little lady–not quite five feet tall and probably never weighing 100 pounds–my grandmother was a wonderful cook. When she was sixteen, she dropped out of school to help support her family, and one of her early jobs was as a cook at the county jail. Those lucky inmates! Her sister made a terrific chocolate cake (which is always called “Auntie’s Chocolate Cake” in our family) that I’ll feature on a later blog. Coffee cake is great with coffee, but I like it anytime. Interestingly, this recipe was “lost” to me for years until my Aunt Carol came over to my house a few years ago for a party and brought me the recipe as a gift. I was thrilled and have made it over and over since then.
I don’t think Grandma Yvonne would mind if I shared her recipe. Here it is:
Mix together and then take out 3/4 cup of crumbs:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
After taking out the 3/4 cup crumbs, add these ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pour in pan, sprinkle reserved crumbs on top. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. I usually use a 9×13 pan, but this time I made two 8-inch rounds and there was a cake to share!
A lady who lives just down the street from me gave me this recipe almost ten years ago. As I started to update my blog, I saw her walk by! The universe (and everyone who has tasted it) clearly approves of this cake. I conjecture that it’s called Black Russian because it has Vodka in it and is chocolatey in color. And man, is it good.
I had it for the first time at a “progressive” neighborhood Christmas party where we moved from house to house eating desserts and drinking until we progressed to being full and drunk. But happy. I’m glad to say this is a cake for any season.
Here’s the recipe:
Butter and sugar a “Bundt” or fluted cake pan
Mix all these ingredients together for several minutes–it will be thick, so I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer.
1 box Yellow cake mix
1 package (6 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1/4 cup Khalua
1/4 cup Vodka
1/4 cup water
Pour in prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool about ten minutes then flip it out.
You can make a glaze from 1/4 cup Khalua and 1/2 cup powdered sugar or use another glaze of your choice.