Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 2, A Cake-A-Day: German Chocolate Cake

Day 2 of our bake a cake-a-day week.  Today I chose to make German Chocolate Cake, another family favorite.  My dad had this cake for his birthday many years when we were growing up.  As far as I know it's still his all-time favorite. 

My Dad & Mom,  My CUTIE Grandma peeking up from behind,  My VERY young husband and I, and a German Chocolate Cake with one tremendously large candle.  The candle is a family joke.

When I told the kids I'd be making German Chocolate Cake today one of them responded, "What's German about it?"  The springboard of learning was once again upon us.  We looked up how German Chocolate Cake got it's name.  Turns out it has nothing to do with Germany or Germans.

In 1852, Samuel German (I read he was actually German) developed a sweet, dark baking chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Company.  Since it was his creation Baker's named the chocolate in his honor.  It became known as Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate.

Apparently, history records the cake being made in the 1920's but it didn't reach it's overwhelming popularity until the mid-1950's.   In 1957, a brilliant (my emphasis) homemaker in Texas submitted the German's Chocolate Cake recipe to a local newspaper.  It was such a hit, General Foods, owner of Baker's, reprinted the recipe in several newspapers across the country.  The cake was a hit!  One source read that the 's was accidentally dropped although that seems unclear. 

I love those 50's recipes that make it big!  American culinary heritage is part of who we are today.  Maybe next year when we study the 21st century we'll spend some time recreating tasty and somewhat odd flavors of a more recent yester-year.  I'm thinking  jello-mold everything...or maybe not.

Anyway, back to the German Chocolate Cake.  For this recipe I chose one of my favorite cookbooks.  You can find wonderful German Chocolate Cake recipes all over the internet.  The recipe I used can be a bit more challenging because of some of the steps.  Don't be discouraged.  There are many options out there.  I just chose to use the recipe from Country Living Great Cakes Cookbook because I have a history with this book.

I purchased Great Cakes at a Farm Chicks Antiques Show in Fairfield, Washington.  I had the honor of accompanying a friend who was part of the Farm Chicks Show.  My friend, Nia of Summerland Style, is amazingly creative, as is her husband.  She's currently an upholsterer and all around idea girl. 

the poster

While at the show I had the opportunity to look around.  County Living Magazine editors were there and I was blessed to have them sign this cookbook.  This makes it very special to me. 

Each year I give our kids the opportunity to look through this book and pick a recipe they want for their Birthday Cake.  I've made a number of the cakes, but a couple of our kids pick the same cake year after year.  Those cakes will be made this week, and let me tell you, they're excited about it!

Having a Birthday Cake book is a great addition to your cookbook collection.  Kids love looking through them and picking their signature cake.  I love it too as an inspiration for different occasions.

German Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup boiling water
4 ounces German's Chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks, softened)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Coconut-Pecan Filling (recipe follows)

1.  Make the batter:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat three 8-inch cake pans with butter.  Dust with flour and tap out any excess.  Set aside.

Currently, I only have two cake pans.  Need to make another trip to Crate and Barrel

Dusted with flour.  I actually like the cake pan spray you can purchase at a cake supply store.   It makes less of a mess.
Pour the boiling water over the German's Chocolate in a medium bowl.  Stir until smooth and set aside.

4 oz. chocolate

Coarsely Chopped

Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over chocolate

Water and chocolate

Stir to combine
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl.  Set aside.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients combined
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl using a mixer set on medium-high speed, until very light- 5 minutes. 

Butter and Sugar

The beginning of the mixing

After about 5 minutes
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.

Eggs separated

Add yolks, one at a time

Add chocolate mixture and vanilla
Add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing just until the batter is smooth.

Add buttermilk and dry ingredients.  Alternate, buttermilk, dry ingredients...end with dry ingredients.

Batter is smooth
Beat the egg whites in a clean medium bowl with clean beaters until the form soft peaks.  Gently fold 1/2 cup of the beaten whites into the batter.  Fold the remaining whites into the batter until blended.

Bake the cake:  Divide batter equally between the prepared pans and spread evenly.  Bake until a tester inserted into the center of each cake layer comes out clean- 30-35 minutes.  Cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.  Use a knife to loosen the cake layers from the sides of the pan and invert onto the wire racks to cool completely.

Ready to bake
Coconut-Pecan Filling

1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 7-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Make the filling:  Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens- about 10 minutes.  Stir in the coconut and pecans.  Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, before using to frost the cake.

Evaporated milk, egg yolks, butter sugar, and vanilla

Filling is complete
Assembling the Cake:  Place a cake layer on a cake plate and top with one third of the Coconut-Pecan Filling.  Repeat with the remaining layers and filling.  Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature.


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