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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fabulous Fudge Cake

  
This is a wonderfully moist chocolate cake.  I've had the recipe for years and years.  Here's the story behind the cake.  It's a long story.  Feel free to skip to the end.

When I was a poor, struggling student, (so many years ago, before a computer could fit in a living room, not to mention a lap! ), I worked at the school to pay my tuition and board.  My main employment was at the school's bakery and cafeteria where my shifts were divided between the bakery and serving my fellow students three meals a day.  I enjoyed my work, particularly the bakery work, as I considered myself an accomplished home baker in my own standing.  

My home training did not fail me as I knew the difference between sugar and salt (a necessary knowledge in the baking world) and could actually figure out which end was up on a mixer.  Mrs. Spady, the kindly school baker, soon filled me in on the rudiments of quantity baking and every thing was going well.  In my mind I felt superior to those other students assigned to the bakery because some of them didn't know the difference between sugar and salt!  (There were a few disasters I was happy to distance myself from.)  

I had been happily working for two or three months when the helpful Mrs. Spady came down with the flu.  I went to work that Monday morning blissfully unaware of the events that would soon transpire.  Of course, I knew someone would be hired to take the baker's place and I was just as eager to prove myself to the replacement as I had been with Mrs. Spady.  

The food directer was quick to find me that morning and I was stunned when he announced I would be in charge of making the dinner desserts for the week and I should consult with his assistant to see what was on the menu.  Suddenly I didn't feel so competent.  It was one thing to parade around, showing off my superior skills, when I had the safety net of Mrs. Spady.  But now I was to do a solo flight, all on my own, with the knowledge of realizing every single student and staff member would critique my baking skills.  (I don't know who took care of the bread making and the other baking for breakfast and supper.  Obviously, I was not the only competent student baker working at the school.)

I took myself to the bakery and found the handwritten cookbook that Mrs. Spady used and searched for the necessary recipes.  I can remember only three desserts I made that week.  One was various flavoured Jell-o in individual serving bowls, another was cherry cobbler and the third was a chocolate cake.   

My nerves were on edge the whole week but I managed to get dessert made for every dinner by following each recipe down to the letter (including reading the instructions several times on the Jell-o boxes).  I found out I could bake and I found out I shouldn't feel so smug about it.  I found it a great honour baking for hungry students and it was a great responsibility not to be taken so lightly.  I found new respect for the patient and long-suffering Mrs. Spady who had to deal with many "helpful" students passing through that old bakery.  

I was so nerve-wracked that week I never wrote down any of the recipes I made and the only one I had was for the Jell-o (I only had to read the box, ha, ha).  The chocolate cake which had been called "Fabulous Fudge Cake" had been well received by the students and the food director had asked me what mix I'd used.  I hadn't even realized there were cake mixes in the storage room.  

I always wished I'd written down the cake recipe because it was very good and every time I'd see a new cookbook I'd search the index to see if the cake was there.  It was not to be found until one fateful day one of the supermarkets had one of those offers where if you bought so many dollar's worth of groceries you could buy a cookbook at a discounted price.  This particular offer was for a set of about 20 books and each week a new volume would be offered.  Every time I bought groceries, I'd plunk down my money and bring home a new volume.  When the "Cake" book was offered, oh, joy, there with the other chocolate cake recipes was my "Fabulous Fudge Cake" I had searched for so long.  

I had that set of cookbooks for about 20 years and probably only made that one recipe out of the whole set.  When some years ago I sold the set at a yard sale, the only recipe I kept, of course, was the "Fabulous Fudge Cake."

This recipe make a large 3-layer cake but I've given the amounts for a 2-layer version as well.  I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do. (And I don't even like chocolate cake.)

Fabulous Fudge Cake
(A cake with a history.)

2 layers                                                                   3 layers
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted*            3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 ½ cups sifted cake flour                                        2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
1 ⅓ teaspoons baking soda                                     2 teaspoons baking soda
⅓ teaspoon salt                                                        ½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup butter or margarine                                        ½ cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar                        2 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs                                                                       3 eggs
1 ⅓ teaspoons vanilla                                               2 teaspoons vanilla
⅓ cup buttermilk*                                                      ½ cup buttermilk*          
⅔ cup boiling water                                                   1 cup boiling water        
       
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease two/three 9-inch layer cake pans.  Line bottom of pans with waxed or parchment paper.  Grease paper.

Melt chocolate over low heat or in the microwave at a low setting.  Set aside.

Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter or margarine at medium speed; gradually add sugar.  Beat until mixture is fluffy.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time until thick.  Add vanilla and melted chocolate with mixer on low.

Add dry ingredients, a third at a time, alternately with buttermilk,* with mixer at low speed just until blended; stir in boiling water.  The batter will be thin.  Pour into pans.

Bake at 350 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, or until centres spring back when lightly pressed with fingertip or cake tester comes out clean.  Do not overbake.

Cool in pans 5 minutes and then turn out onto cake racks.  Remove waxed or parchment paper; cool completely.  Put layers together with filling or frosting and frost top and sides.

*You may substitute sour milk for the buttermilk.  Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cup measure and add enough milk to make up ⅓ cup of milk.  Let sit a minute or two until curdled and ready to use.


This cake uses cake flour which helps produce a tender cake.  If you use all-purpose flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour for every cup you use.  Cake flour needs to be sifted before you measure as you can see the lumps of flour left in the sifter.  Just push the lumps through with your fingers.  I like to put the sifted flour (mixed with the baking powder, etc.) on waxed paper and use the paper to lift and slide the flour into the batter.  
 
Firmly packed brown sugar should mold to the shape of the measuring cup and make a nice little "sand" castle when turned out.


Beat the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Have the chocolate melted and cooled down.  Add this to the creamed mixture and beat in.

I rarely have buttermilk on hand so I use sour milk.  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup measurement.  Pour in enough milk to make ⅓ cup.  The milk will sour and curdle in just a minute or so and then it is ready to use.


Add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the creamed chocolate mixture.  The last thing to do is stir in the boiling water.  The batter will be thin but this helps to make the cake so moist.  Bake and cool before decorating.


Fill and frost your cake with your favourite filling and frosting.  This cake has a filling of cooked chocolate pudding and I used Mrs. Elliott's Fluffy Whipped Frosting to cover.


 I used chocolate shavings to decorate the top of the cake.  


 A luscious slice of chocolate-filled Fabulous Fudge Cake with billows of fluffy frosting.


This cake was filled and frosted with peanut butter icing. A topping of chocolate ganache was drizzled over the top and down the sides.

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