Monday, February 18, 2008

Devil Dog Cake

To celebrate my one year cooking anniversary, I made this Devil Dog cake. It’s not made out of devil dogs, it’s just resembles one. It got a top score (four out of four forks) on Epicurious, and it used a technique that I haven’t tried yet, so I thought it would be fitting for my last recipe of the year.

For cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus additional for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups water

For frosting
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan (2 inches deep).

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well, then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and water alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top, then bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 1 hour. Transfer cake to a cake plate.

Make frosting:
Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Mound frosting on top of cake. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

Cooks' notes:
• Cake, without frosting, will improve in flavor if made 1 day ahead. Cool, then keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature. Frost cake just before serving.
• The egg whites in the frosting are not fully cooked. You can substitute pasteurized or reconstituted dried egg whites if salmonella is a problem in your area.

The cake it’s self is pretty straightforward, creaming the butter and sugar, and adding in turns. My square cake tin doesn’t have a removable base, so I made sure to use baking paper for easy removal. The best way to do it is to let it cool for a couple of minutes, then put a dish over the top of the cake and flip the whole thing over. That way you can just lift off the pan, and peel off the paper. If you want to turn it back right side up, just put another dish over it and flip it again.

The frosting was new for me. It was an interesting method. Like making meringue, but in a double boiler. It sounded intimidating, but it was fine, once I got used to having an electric mixer in one hand and an oven glove on the other (the bowl kept slipping in the pot). It took the full 7 minutes, but it came out amazing. It was sticky and frosting-y and tasted just like marshmallows. I loved it.

The recipe mentions that the cake improves in flavor if you refrigerate it over night, and it’s no joke. This cake was good on the day it was made, but it was excellent the next day.

I would make this again, probably for a kids event more then a grown up event, thought it would be fine for either. I agree with the four forks rating, I will make it again.

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