I haven't had any further time (or eating audience) to bake anymore this week but in honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, a day I can get behind anytime, I thought I'd post this easy and awesome chocolate cake recipe. It won't count against my baking challenge since I've already tried the recipe but it's well worth making again. According to the cookbook, Rebecca Rather owns the Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg and it's billed as "The Best Little From-Scratch Bakery in Texas". Just based on this cake, I'd have to put this bakery on my foodie places to visit if I'm ever in Texas.
This is one of the few cakes where I'd advocate including the nuts since they're part of the glaze, not the cake itself. In the glaze, the crunch of toasted pecans adds the perfect flavor and texture complement to the sweet glaze. The cake batter is easy to make but a bit thin so strain the batter as you pour it into the pan if you have any flour lumps. Flour lumps do NOT go away in baking. The cake has excellent flavor and a soft, moist texture. The glaze makes it rich and chocolaty and the pecans add a nice crunch. Oh, and if you notice from the picture, I went off recipe and didn't bake in a tube or Bundt pan but used a couple of 8" pans. No particular reason why but I ended up liking it this way better since it gives more surface area for the glaze :).
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup high-quality dark cocoa powder, such as Scharffenberger
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted then measured)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch tube pan or a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with butter, sprinkle lightly with flour and tap over the sink to remove any excess.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add the water and whisk until smooth. Be careful not to boil the mixture. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the warm cocoa mixture all at once; whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt all at once; whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. If there are lumps, strain the batter as you pour it into the pan.
3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; the cake is done when it has pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan and feels firm to the touch.
4. Let the cake cool in the pan about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the 350 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Chop the pecans.
6. Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt and pecans.
7. Loosen the cake with a knife or spatula and overturn it onto a serving plate. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, covering it thoroughly. Don’t worry if some of the glaze pools inside and around the cake. This cake will keep up to 3 days, covered, at room temperature and glaze just before serving.