Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Picnics" - Chocolate Malted Cake for Labor Day

Date I made this recipe:  September 7, 2015 (Labor Day)

Picnics by Marilyn Myers
Published by:  Running Press
ISBN: 0-89471-583-6
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  Chocolate Malted Cake – p. 120

At the risk of repeating myself from another blog, years ago, a co-worker commented that the day after the Minnesota State Fair concludes (Labor Day), the temperature drops by at least 20 degrees and stays there for, well, forever. 

And sure enough folks, the day after the fair, the temperature changed from 90 degrees and humid (very humid) to 70 degrees and not humid.  (Current temperature is 62 degrees.)

I hate this time of year.

And so, a picnic dish is in order to lift our spirits!  And not just any picnic dish but a cake, and not just any cake but a Chocolate Malted Cake.  My husband loves chocolate malts and he spent his Labor Day truly laboring on our house and garage and so he deserved a treat.

This sweet treat is just one part of a menu titled "Before the Mast," indicating, of course, that we should have been out yachting this fine Labor Day weekend.  But kids, we are all yachted out so no go on that theme.  Actually, we don't even own a boat so there's that although we probably should as Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes, don't you know.  Almost everybody we know has a cabin and/or a boat, and weekend bug-outs to go "up north" (often west, but details, details) clog the freeways up and down the state.  The good news is that it is always easier to get into Twin Cities' restaurants during the summer; now that we're into "fall" though, all bets are off.

At any rate, the "Before the Mast" menu contains an "Onion and Ricotta Pie," "Dilled Tomatoes and Cucumbers," the featured recipe – "Chocolate Malted Cake," and "Blush Wine" because what yacht outing would be complete without wine?

Other menus range from "Take a Hike:" Chicken Mole; Cornmeal Muffins; Chewy Molasses Sugar Cookies and Beer, to "Fired Up:" Grilled Lamb; Ratatouille; Green Beans with Basil Dressing; Whole-Wheat Rolls with Sunflower Kernels; Chocolate Malted Cake (so multi-purpose, that!) and Red Wine. 

I had several potential recipes picked out before settling on just the cake and that worked out well.  As it is, I had to wait until the temperature cooled off because no way was I heating an oven when it was already a blast furnace outside.  That said, and here I am repeating myself:  I love summer.  I don't care how hot it gets because summers here are fleeting.  Am I sometimes uncomfortable?  Sure.  I don't care.  In fact, bring it on, the earlier, the better!

As to picnics, this is one of those events that we associate with summer but that need not be the case as picnics work year-round.  Shoot, I've even "picnicked" while on cross-country ski outings but that was a long time ago when I was younger and felt the need to go out and exercise in the winter, what?

This recipe is not very hard but the small challenge I had came with the direction to start with a cold oven.  My oven, and likely yours, has a pre-heat setting and so once I select the temperature and press "Start," it preheats the oven for at least 7 minutes, period.  I do not get the choice to just start with a truly cold oven.  This book was written in 1988, and maybe preheat ovens were not yet popular, but I honestly spent a couple of minutes debating as to whether or not I should subtract the pre-heat time from the total baking time of 45 minutes.  I decided ultimately to go for a full 45 minutes at 350 but I'm not sure that worked.  The cake was moist but seemed just a tad overdone and I bet if I subtracted time, the cake would have been moister.  No matter though, because we snarfed it down anyway.  I mean, it's chocolate malted cake so....

So there you have it, the fruits of my labor on Labor Day.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Malted Cake – makes 8 servings
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons instant natural-flavored malted milk powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
Chocolate icing
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Ann's Note:  You need to start with a "cold" oven, i.e. do not preheat!

To make the cake:  Butter a 9-inch springform pan.  Line the bottom with a circle of wax paper and lightly butter that also.

Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the mixture thickens and becomes silky before adding another egg.

Sift together or sift the flour, cocoa, malted milk, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to mix thoroughly.  Add half of this to the butter sugar mixture and stir just enough to blend.  Add all the buttermilk and stir until smooth, then blend in the remaining dry ingredients.

Pour this batter into the lined springform pan and set in a cold oven.  Turn to 350F and bake about 45 minutes or until the top is barely warm.  Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and remove the wax paper.  Cool completely.

Ann's Note:  Most ovens have a pre-heat cycle and as mentioned above, I debated about whether or not to subtract my oven's pre-heat time (around 7 minutes) or not.  In the end, I decided "Not" but I think that was almost too much as the cake was not as moist as I was hoping.  It's up to you, just be sure to check your cake earlier than I did mine!

To make the icing:  Place the chocolate and cream in a small bowl over barely simmering water.  When the cream is hot enough to melt the chocolate, stir to blend thoroughly.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Pour the icing over the cooled cake, smoothing it over and glazing the top and sides.

Ann's Note:  There was not quite enough icing for the top and sides so I skipped the sides and concentrated on the top.

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