A while back I did a post on old recipes and recipe books. In it I talked about my first recipe collection - the Women's Weekly Recipe Boxed Card Set - well I ventured back into that box this weekend and made my old favourite - the Devils Food Cake. This was a cake that I made many a time for my poor unsuspecting family. If you read my post the other day about reading the method in recipes you will understand more. In those days I didn't even read the method - thought I knew it all - I had watched Mum a million times - it's just a cake!! How hard can it be??? There were several successes and just as many, if not more failures. Fortunately as time progressed my intuition got better.
I flinch now just thinking about some of the things I inflicted on my poor unsuspecting family - Junior MasterChef I was not!!
So this was a trip back down memory lane.......
Devils Food Cake
2 1/3 cusp self raising flour
1 3/4 cups castor sugar
1 tsp bi-carb soda
155g butter (at room temperature)
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs icing sugar
Chocolate Icing **
2 cups icing sugar
2-4 tbs milk
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line with baking paper 2 x 20cm round cake tins.
Sift dry ingredients into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add butter, water and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the eggs, and increase the speed slightly, and beat for a further 3 minutes.
Divide mixture between the two pans.
Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
When completely cold whip the cream, adding the icing sugar and vanilla once you start getting soft peaks. Continue whipping until you get stiff peaks.
Sandwich the two layers together with the whipped cream.
To make the chocolate icing - put the chocolate and the butter in a double pan, and gently heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate and the butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Add half of the icing sugar, and tablespoon at a time of the milk. Beat until smooth - until you have added all the icing sugar. Only add enough milk to make a smooth spreading consistency.
Top the cake with the chocolate icing.
** I made more than is needed for the cake because I also made Afghan Cookies. I don't know what got into me - perhaps my body was being channelled with the ghost of Betty Crocker??
Here is a little bit of trivia for you. There is no actual Betty Crocker! Apparently back in the 1920's the Washburn Crosby Company (one of the six big milling companies that merged into General Mills) were receiving so many requests for answers to baking questions that they invented the personna "Betty Crocker". Crocker from the last name of of a retired company executive and "Betty" because they thought it sounded "warm and friendly". Betty's signature came from a female secretary who won a competition - and it is still the same signature used today!!
Here you see the many "faces" of Betty Crocker over the years!!
They changed Betty's face many times over the years to reflect general appeal - she became more "professional" in the 80's and even acquired some "ethnic" appeal in the late 1990's. Oh to be Betty!!! All without plastic surgery too!!! I hope I look as good as Betty when I am 90!
PS In case you are wondering Sara Lee is a real person!!!
Anyway, I digress..... yesterday was a very busy day in my kitchen - for reasons I know not why!!!
When I recently posted about my cornflake cookies - the lovely Lorraine - from Not Quite Nigella reminded me about a recipe that she had recently posted called Afghan Cookies. Now looking back at her post I see that mine do not bear much resemblance to hers. Not sure why - but as they say the "proof is in the pudding". So hence I made double of the icing mixture above to put on the cookies.
Here is Lorraine's recipe, including her icing, for
Makes approximately 24 cookies
170g butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tbs cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups crushed cornflakes
3 tbs water
3 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs (45g) butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tbs cocoa powder
walnut halves to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients on top of this mixture, and mix together. The batter will be quite lumpy. Knead in the cornflakes, gathering a ball of the mix. Shape approximately soup spoon amounts of the mixture into balls. Place the balls onto the prepared pans. Flatten them slightly. They won't spread too much.
Bake for 12-14 minutes (if cooking time is too short, they will be too delicate to set.) Cool on the baking trays.
Gently heat the water, caster sugar and butter until the butter is melted and simmer for 1 minute to form a syrup. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa.
While constantly whisking with a balloon whisk, pour the syrup onto the sifted icing sugar and cocoa. Add some hot water to thin out the icing, if needed. You want the icing thick enough to hold it's shape and not run, but not thick enough so that any spoon marks hold (oops - mine was too thick!! - should have made Lorraine's icing!!).
Using a teaspoon place some icing on the centre of the cookie and then add a walnut half in the centre of each. Allow to set.
Mine do not look anywhere near as lovely as Lorraine's - but they taste good - and they have "The Darlings" seal of approval!!! That's good enough for me! They also have a big thick slab of chocolate icing on top!!! Yum.
Betty Crocker info from Centre for History and New Media.