Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sundays with Sparky - Dad's Birthday Surprise Part I

August is birthday month in our household.  Sparky was born just five days after his Dad's birthday, which means that I'm always hard-pressed to find two kinds of cake that will each make both of them happy - and that won't weigh us down in the hottest of the summer months.  I was talking to Sparky about what kind of cake he wanted to make for Dad, when an Edible Arrangements truck just happened to drive past our house.  "Mom, can we buy an Edible Arrangement?"  I looked at him skeptically.  "Son, we can make an edible arrangement - and I bet we can do it better than they can!"  "...But they deliver!" was his feeble response, but he eventually came around to the idea - especially after I suggested that we make cake pops and stick them in with the fruit.

So, we began by making Smitten Kitchen's new "Everyday Chocolate Cake," which seemed like an easy enough cake to make - and had the bonus of being a loaf cake, which we could bake in our toaster oven and not heat up the whole house.  I set Sparky a-cookin': 

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa (not dutched) plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

First, we sprayed the loaf pan with cooking spray and dusted it with cocoa powder.  Then I set Sparky to creaming the butter in our KitchenAid.  He added the sugars and allowed them to incorporate fully, and then added egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth (if we had followed instructions and had everything at room temp, this would have incorporated better, but it didn't seem to affect the final cake.)  Then, we whisked together the dry ingredients and added them gradually to the batter, incorporating them with a spatula until everything was blended into a thick batter.

This was spread into a standard loaf pan, which we set in our toaster oven (preheated to 325 for about five minutes or so) and turned the timer on for an hour; if we'd been paying attention**, we'd have tested the center for doneness and added another ten minutes to the time.

After cooling, we sliced the cake and then used a cookie cutter to cut out circles, which went onto skewers for Part I of this project.

**Funny story - I had an appointment I'd forgotten about, and realized just after the batter was in the pan that the cake would need to bake while we were gone.  Since the toaster oven shuts itself off, this wasn't really a problem - but I was justifiably nervous about leaving a hot electric oven on in the house by itself, so (imagining the headlines: firefighter arrives on scene to douse conflagration caused by his own birthday cake) I recruited a neighbor to check in on the last 10 minutes and make sure everything was OK.  Unfortunately, this meant that the cake was slightly undercooked, but it was delicious and fudgy and it didn't really matter.

To be continued next Sunday....

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