Cardboard & Cloth

recipes, DIY, parenting & me time


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Perfectly Balanced Chocolate Cake (Yeast Method) [2 – 3 days]

image“Let them eat cake—but have it real cake and not a spurious imitation. It is better to eat a corn muffin than a poor cake.” – Louis P DeGouy, The Gold Cookbook [1947]

I came across the basis for this recipe in The Gold Cookbook by Louis P DeGouy, one of the most brilliant and diverse chefs of the 20th century, though there’s little written about him online. Along with being a co-founder of Gourmet Magazine [1940 – 2009], DeGouy  studied under Escoffier in the 1920s and worked at some of the most well-known eating establishments of the modern world, including the Monte Carlo and Hotel de Paris in France; the Carlton Hotel and Leicester Square in England, the Casino of San Sebastian in Spain and the Hotel Belmont and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. He also published 16 cookbooks, from The Pie Book to The Sandwich Manual for Professionals to The Bread Tray: Recipes for Homemade Breads, Rolls, Muffins and Biscuits. Check out more in this great post on the blog Sandy’s Chatter.

Even though the recipes are as varied as his international past, what makes The Gold Cookbook hard to put down is the fact it’s written almost like a novel. Every vegetable has it’s own little section, describing how best to treat it on the stove and in storage, as does every other chapter, from soups to breads to meats and desserts. Some even have a brief story on how he came across the recipe, or why the recipe he’s using has lasted for so many hundreds of years. In all, it’s as much a brilliant and educational read as it is an indispensable cookbook.

This recipe for chocolate cake had to be tweaked just a touch—its kind of hard to find fresh yeast cakes these days—but, as noted in the title, this isn’t a quick cake. Making a little at a time makes it manageable for just about any busy schedule, but it also allows the batter time to rest and mature, and results in the most exceptionally balanced chocolate cake I’ve ever had the privilege to bake.

In this version, I made it with a dark chocolate ganache inner layer and a cream cheese mocha frosting (recipes below), but don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild on this!

Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

[THE CAKE]

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup milk (cream-line, if possible)
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy, then add in all 3 egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Add both packages of yeast to 1/4 cup of lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. Then mix the yeast water with the milk.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate and slowly pour into the sugar/butter mix, alternately adding the milk/yeast mixture until both are incorporated.

Separately, sift the cake flour 4 times and add the salt. Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture until incorporated.

Beat the 3 egg whites until very stiff. Fold into the cake batter gently until incorporated.

Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight.

[Day 2]

The next day…

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 2 – 9 in. round cake pans, lining the bottom of both with parchment paper.

Mix the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of hot water and stir until dissolved. Add the vanilla or vanilla/almond extract and stir all into the cake batter (it will be stiff at first, but it will soften as you stir and the baking soda water is added).

Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool completely on racks before frosting.

[Day 3] – if you don’t have time to wait until the cakes cool that day, you can always do the frosting on day 3!

[THE GANACHE]

I have this written down on a little plaque in my kitchen:

Ganache
(Chocolate/Cream)

  • 1 to 2 for drizzle finishes and ice cream
  • 2 to 2 for cake filling
  • 2 to 1 for truffles

Since this was cake filling, I took what looked like about 2/3 cup of chocolate chips, put them in a bowl and set that bowl on top of a saucepan with a few inches of water in it and heated the water to melt the chocolate (a lot of people call this the double boiler method – I call it bowl-on-saucepan method because I’m not cluttering up my kitchen with another blasted piece of useless kitchen equipment).

Once the chocolate was melted, I added the same —2/3 cup—of heavy cream and stirred until incorporated. It might seem a little thin at first, but it will firm up quickly as it cools. I added it right away to the center layer of the cake.

[THE FROSTING]

Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons powdered coffee
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Blend the cream cheese and butter in a mixer until creamy, about 5 minutes. Turn down speed to slow and add the powdered sugar and salt. Mix the powdered coffee with the vanilla extract and add that to the frosting mix. Turn back on high and whip another 3 – 5 minutes.

Frost the cake and done!

 

 

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Vintage 1851 Strawberry Syrup Recipe

One of the most popular cookbooks in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, is Charleston Receipts. Put together by the Junior League of Charleston in 1950, the cookbook is full of classic Charleston recipes and to date has sold more than 1 million copies. But it’s not my favorite Charleston-based cookbook. For this classic collection of receipts you have to go back a few more years. Almost 100, in fact.

The Carolina Housewife was compiled by Charleston native Sarah Rutledge and published in 1851, when women were rarely found in the publishing world. The cookbook consists of an amazing variety of recipes, from “Spruce Beer” to “To Dress Salsify in Imitation of Fried Oysters” to “Charlotte of Brown Bread and Apples” and everything in between.

Since Florida strawberries are starting to show up in the markets, I thought I’d share one of Ms. Rutledge’s strawberry recipes. Along with classic recipes for strawberry sherbet and strawberry cream, she has a wonderful recipe for strawberry syrup; perfect for angel food cake, salted caramel ice cream (or your favorite ice cream!), or simply spooned in a cool glass of milk:

Strawberry Syrup (from Carolina Housewife, by Sarah Rutledge, 1851)

when the fruit is quite ripe, express the juice and strain it through a bag. To one pint of the juice, put one pound of loaf sugar; stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved; then let it stand quiet, until the scum* rises, which will be quite thick. When that is taken off  [NOTE: use a spoon to remove the scum from the syrup] the syrup is fit for bottling  [or canning], which must be done without scalding [NOTE: that is, heat the strawberry syrup over low heat until boiling, then add to sterilized canning jars or bottles]. Cork the bottles tight, and keep them in in a cool place.

*The syrup must stand some time for the scum to rise, but requires watching to prevent its becoming mouldy or acid, which will be the case if the scum stands too long on it.

A good portion of the Carolina Housewife is available here on Google books, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in experimenting with vintage recipes.

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