They looked like this:
Somehow, I fell in love with the medium of photography. The fickle partner that is sunshine in the Pacific Northwest, the food that refuses to look beautiful even though it's delicious, the ever elusive perfect styling set up. And yet, I love it. I. Love. It. This year I did my first professional photo shoot.
They looked like this:
I think a little celebration is in order.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake
Recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, p. 298
1/4 C Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 C hot water
1 3/4 C sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
2 egg yolks, room temp
12 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8- to 9-inch round cake pans, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and vanilla together.
2. In another medium bowl, combine the chocolate, 1/4 C of the cocoa powder, and hot water and set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 C of the sugar and continue to heat until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whip the eggs and egg yolks together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed and gradually add the remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, about 1 minute. Continue to whip until mixture is very thick and voluminous, 4 to 8 minutes.
4. If using a standing mixer, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment. Beat the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg-sugar mixture on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
6. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
7. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours.
Makes about 4 C, enough for a sheet cake or 2-layer cake
Be sure to use unsalted butter here.
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
3 Tbs. heavy cream
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
3 C (12 oz) confectioner's sugar
1. Beat the butter, cream, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioner's sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.
This cake is vanilla in the middle, so I took 1/3 out, then added 1/2 cup cocoa powder and mixed it in well.
You're gunna want a big glass of milk with this. And maybe some vanilla ice cream. Whether it's a birthday, a milestone, or just a nice, clean kitchen, this is definitely the cake for your celebration!