There’s something appealing about a snack cake, isn’t there? The fact that it’s relegated to the every day, rather than elevated on a plate for a Special Occasion – and it reminds me of those snackin’ cake mixes my mom rarely bought when I was a kid. (Thanks to her, I learned to make the One Egg Cake from The Joy of Cooking instead.) Also: I find a 9×13-inch pan liberating.
A conversation about barley flour on Twitter today reminded me of this cake. (Yes, I talk about lesser-known flours – I commiserate with others who can relate to my cupboard full of ziplocks and containers and half-full bags of assorted flours and grains and beans and lentils.) We all tend to default to all-purpose wheat flour, but of the alternatives, barley flour is one of the more usable in my kitchen. It’s locally grown (barley is a significant Alberta crop), easy to find alongside the other flours on most grocery store shelves, high in soluble and insoluble fibre -throughout the entire grain, not just the bran- and although it doesn’t sound it, has a softer texture than whole wheat flour. Its humectant properties keeps baked goods moist, drawing moisture from the air. Which is a good thing when you’re after a slab of chocolate cake or chewy chocolate chip cookies that stay soft.
I didn’t manage any step-by-step photos, but the batter looks like cake batter. Just like chocolate cake batter. Stir it! Scrape it! Make it! Bake it!
I haven’t made much that could fall into the dinner category this week; after Thanksgiving there were leftovers, and then I went to Toronto for three days, got back Friday night and was in Banff/Canmore Saturday. We had spaghetti & meatballs when I got home, and I made a lentil soup with lots of garlic and a meaty ham bone I doggie bagged from my sister’s last weekend. It was supposed to be split pea, but I had no split peas. How could I have no split peas amongst all those baggies?
But there is barley flour. (Which, yes, can be used cup for cup in place of all-purpose flour.)
Chocolate Barley Snack Cake
Adapted from Alberta Barley
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups barley flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9×13-inch baking pan or spray it with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla for 3-4 minutes, until pale and creamy. In another bowl, stir together the barley flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, stirring or beating on low speed just until combined after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack; once cool, frost it if you like. Serves 12-16.