Saturday, March 3, 2007


There was no strong baking tradition in my family. Mom used the oven exactly two times a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas, the requisite turkey cooking times. Occasionally she’d whip out Betty Crocker for our birthdays, but usually she’d buy a cake. If there was a bake sale at school, I was always the kid who brought a check for $5 instead of baked goods.

I am a horrible baker. One part of it is the measuring thing. Baking needs to be exact. I also have a tendency to over-knead, over-beat and under-cream. But since Sonny’s been in my life, I want to be a better baker. I’d rather bake him something than buy him sweets from the store. At least I’ll know what’s in it and if I have to do it myself, we probably won’t get sweets as often. That’s the logic, at least.

So where did I turn for inspiration? This lovely book. Hubby bought this book because he knew I wanted to involve Sonny more in the kitchen. It’s also perfect for beginning bakers like me. The recipes make smaller portions, so you’re not left with 33 cupcakes to tempt you. I only wish there were more savory dishes. Sonny and I made the “Easiest Chocolate Cake” with a couple modifications. It really was very easy, and delicious.

Easiest Chocolate Cake
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup white sugar (3/4 cup if using unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 portion buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
In a medium to large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together, except the sugar. In another, whisk the other ingredients until well blended. Then mix the dry and wet ingredients (a good baker would probably do this gradually, but I just did it all at once). Beat until smooth. This recipe made 6 cupcakes (exactly the size of my cupcake pan) plus 1 small 4” springform. The cupcakes took about 20 minutes to bake at 350ยบ F. The springform took about 28 minutes.

Buttercream Frosting:
  • 2 1/2cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, soft
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ to 1 cup toasted coconut, cooled (optional)
  • 2-3 tbs chopped dried fruit
In a medium to large bowl, cream the butter until very soft. Add about ½ cup of the sugar. Stir in the milk, then the rest of the sugar. Add the vanilla. Whisk until you have a smooth frosting. If the frosting is too thick, add a little bit of milk. Make sure the cakes are completely cooled before frosting, otherwise you’ll get melted butter on top of your chocolate cupcakes. We also toasted about a cup of shredded coconut and added this to the frosting. Instead of sprinkles (which sonny requested), I chopped up some dried fruit and let him sprinkle them on top.

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