This weekend I’ve lived on thick slices of (my new very favourite) chocolate cake and cold 2% milk. I shave off a slice – the combo is a perfect pairing with the rain and a lax schedule, our camping plans cancelled due to said rain.
I have five cakes on my countertop. (Or had five of them…) Funny(ish) story: on Friday, I had about an hour and a half between a cooking demo and judging the Sundown Chowdown, where the Food Blogger Bake Sale was also being held to raise funds for the Calgary Foundation. I thought I had timed it perfectly: come home, stir up a double batch of chocolate zucchini cake batter while skyping from my laptop on the kitchen counter beside the mixing bowl, bake cakes in aluminum baking pans from the dollar store and finish up work/skype as they bake in perfect time to make it to the event. Which I would have missed entirely had I not noticed a tweet evidencing that it had just started – an hour before I wrote it on my calendar and halfway through the cakes’ baking time. And so. Wait for the cakes to bake and miss it, or abandon the cakes and make it there late? I opted for door #2, turned the oven off, cakes inside, and jumped in the car to attempt to make it through rush hour.
I told my sad tale and donated money instead, thinking my cakes would be tossed. And later, when I came home and retrieved them from the cold oven they were as sunken in their middles as I thought they’d be. But when I cut into one, I found they weren’t all gooey, gummy and underbaked inside, but rather dense and appealingly squidgy. Not as damp and compressed as Nigella’s, but wonderfully moist – exactly everything I love in a chocolate cake, with no need for frosting.
The grated zucchini completely disappears – there’s no trace of it – and while you could add a handful of chocolate chips or walnuts, there’s no need; with each slice I’ve wondered if I actually did add chocolate chips – it’s that chocolatey – and I don’t think I would add them now, for fear of upsetting that perfect balance. Of course as unfrosted loaves, it’s an ideal sort of cake to wrap slices of to tuck into lunchboxes or bring along to work. But if I were to add a thick layer of frosting, I might go for cream cheese. But I can’t imagine eating it any other way than with the coldest milk possible.
Which brings me to the advice part. I’ve been nibbling cake and sipping milk while hacking away at my laptop, trying to redesign this site. It’s been in need of a major overhaul for years – its functionality is lacking, the theme no longer supported, and in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been able to add recipes to the index for at least 3 years. Probably closer to 5. I’m noticing just now that the “about me” page, which I quickly wrote and try to avoid, refers to W as my five year old. Guys, it’s dire. Blog renos have been at the top of my to-do list for as many years – along with my kitchen (I have been without a dishwasher since CHRISTMAS), basement, and that ginormous hole in the living room ceiling that has been there since Stampede 2012. I was for sure going to get it done over the summer, along with everything else, but you know how summers go. And now it’s fall again, and I just need to stop overthinking things and DO IT ALREADY.
I do have a great web guy – someone I could not recommend more highly – who transferred DwJ over to a new server to help speed up page loads, and is always there to answer my sporadic emails/texts/tweets with back end questions and requests to meet for coffee to really and truly for sure get it done this time, and he hardly ever eye rolls, even when I deserve it. Which is all to say I could hand it all over and get someone else to do it, but it feels a lot like one of those home reno shows where the guys come in and tear everything down and do it up all nice, and all I can think as they bring the family back in, eyes covered, is – what if I hate it? And then I’ll have to choose between hurting someone’s feelings and living in a space that doesn’t feel right, and maybe now you understand why both my house and website are in a chronic state of falling apart.
And so I keep meaning to ask those of you who actually hang out here what you like best about it – what you’d like to see, what works, what doesn’t? What are the very best renovations I could make? I realize I’m setting myself up for failure by trying to please everyone – but I’m as afraid of making a drastic change that people will hate (or that will make this blog look like every other) as I am of leaving it the same. I suppose it’s impossible to make changes and expect everyone to love them, but I can try. My biggest focus is the index – ultimately I’d like this to be like an online version of your favourite cookbook, with more recipes than you could comfortably keep on the shelf – which means a really great index. But by changing its bones I’m inevitably going to change the decor at the same time. And that header – it’s one I put together quickly – with limited graphic design knowledge – as a placeholder while I came up with a real one. See what I mean? Every few months I start putting together a survey – but rather than complicate things, I thought I’d just go ahead and ask.
So if you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! Meanwhile, have some cake.
Squidgy Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 smallish, or 1 large)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar on high speed with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add a third to the butter mixture and beat on low or stir just until blended; add half the yogurt and half the zucchini and do the same. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the yogurt and zucchini, and the rest of the flour. Spoon the thick batter into two loaf pans, smoothing the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is cracked and springy to the touch, or still sunken in the middle – it’s up to you. Cool in their pans on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaf cakes.
September 08 2013 12:06 pm | cake