Yesterday, i sifted. Against all of my culinary moral code, I sifted. I sifted on a weeknight, I leveled, I waited for things to reach room temperature. I used “cake flour” instead of regular peasant flour. I melted things and gently combined things. I made a mess. I inhaled chocolate dust.
I don’t do these things. I just don’t. (Well, i do make messes) I wanted to make something. I wanted to make something that doesn’t take 9 months to manufacture. So I made chocolate cake. Yesterday I followed a recipe that someone offered me for the perfect chocolate cake. I made Ina Garten’s “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake“. And Beatty…Beatty is cray.
As I began sifting 3+ cups of ingredients, and with increasingly poor posture, I whispered to myself ‘Why the HELL would anyone do this?’. So I continued, remaining obedient to the recipe, sifting for 2 more minutes and then I stopped. Is the sieve clogged? No. No. This is just the art of sifting. The JOY of sifting. This is what millions of baker bloggers pretend to love to do. It’s just that when you sift, you release one-sixteenth teaspoon of flour at a time. Oh this is fun. Remind me to raise hell to the recipe sharer…who is my sister…who is cray cray. Cray2. I continued to sift. And then I wanted to discover the optimum sifting technique because I ain’t gettin’ any younger here. Is it side to side? Back and forth? Circular, like how we are supposed to brush our teeth? Do I run a spoon through it and force the material out? No. I’ll tell you what it is. You have to rapidly rotate your wrist to the left and then to the right at 45 degrees each and then you can sift one-eighth teaspoon per rotation. That’s DOUBLE your typical yield. You’re welcome. And no I’m not buying any uni-function gadget to assist sifting. Any engineer knows that is a retarded move.
And then I added the wet ingredients because first you have to combine the dry ingredients and then combine the wet ingredients and then finally legislation passed a bill and allowed us to combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl where everyone loves each other. Recipes demand annoying things like “1 cup buttermilk, shaken”. How about “1 cup shaken buttermilk” because during the comma, I already added buttermilk to the oil. Oops.
Then I prepared the cake pans. I lined them with parchment paper and then buttered and floured them. Wait, what? This make zero sense. I’m already using non-stick pans…yet, I have to line them with parchment paper AND butter them and flour them. WHUT? I mean, where did these instructions come from? The Department of Redundancy Department?
Then I thought, “at least I can put the cake in the oven and be done with this project for 35 minutes”. Oh no. Why should we press the “easy” button? Let’s make our own frosting too. Okay Beatty’s about to get a verbal beatt-ing. Now I have to simmer water in a pot and melt chocolate in a bowl over that, and then add the melted chocolate to yet, another bowl. This game of dishwasher Inception is getting old.
Now I need to add a “large” egg yolk to two sticks of butter. (Just two sticks.) And just the yolk…because the whites are not allowed to mix with the chocolate? Is this Prom Night in Mississippi? There is always egg specification…Large? Extra large? Regular? Is there really a distinction? It’s an EGG, PEOPLE!!!!! A large egg doesn’t guarantee a large yolk. There’s no telling what’s in that shell. I know a tiny 5 ft woman who birthed a 10 lb baby.
Next, have to add ”1 cup brewed coffee, cooled” This time i read past the comma, but seriously????? I have to brew coffee now? It’s 11 pm. I removed the Redundancy cakes from the oven and allowed them to cool. Meanwhile, I’m trying to cool my temper, because a bain-marie is forming quickly between my temples.
And then I saw her. I saw Betty Crocker in my kitchen, pacing, wearing a pink, ruffly, below-the-knee nightgown and rollers in her hair, nails painted glossy. ”Look at this mess. Look at the clock. I invented a box for this, like, 100 years ago to mitigate your forthcoming pain. You know who makes cake from scratch? Women who forgo epidurals, that’s who. And you’re a joke next to those women. You had an elective c-section.”
I assembled the cake and iced it, employing all of my pinterest skills in icing application technique. I finished making that damn cake.
But, I made something yesterday. All on my own. And it will be feces tomorrow.
Download of the week: Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.