No Muss No Fuss Chocolate Sheet Cake + 5 Spring Cake Links

“Hold your breath…good.”

“Breathe.”

“Doing ok Ann?”

Not really. Four MRIs in a year, same result, still no answers.

“I’m good.”

“Ok, almost done. You’re doing great.”

Ann forced her eyes closed.  Staring at the white ceiling just a foot from her nose was more than she could handle at 6am on a Tuesday morning.  Maybe it was the exhaustion from the 4:30am wake-up time or the restless sleep she just endured but Ann found herself wishing for her mother. Tess would provide comfort once she endured her own anxiety.  Medical issues were avoided by Tess. And Tess tended to assume the worst. “It’s probably cancer Ann.”  “Why bother with the testing?” “ You don’t want to know what they will come back with.”  “You’re a damn fool, Ann.”

Jesus Tess not now.

Now was not the time to think of her mother. As much as Ann loved Tess, she found her difficult when she was alive and even more so now that she was dead.  Three years had passed, and the grief eased but a day didn’t go by when Tess didn’t come to Ann either in a memory or a dream. At times it was a relief to see her or hear her or remember her.  Yet other times memories and dreams of Tess left Ann frustrated like a child seeking an answer to a question when the answer is not known.  Ann understood grief changed forms.  Now she understood.  Whether what she felt was love, resentment, hate, or annoyance towards her mother it was all just grief. Grief, it turned never really ended. It wasn’t something to get over or bypass.  Grief demanded attention like a needy lover.  It required the bereaved to hold on with ripped bloody hands hoping at some point the pain would ease.  And it did and then left what remains.

Ann pushed Tess out of her mind.  Tess would be back but for now, Ann would silence her. Ann felt her wedding rings vibrate as the machine churned out images of her insides.  She thought of the day that lay ahead- school drop-offs and pick-ups, sports, follow-up phone calls and looked forward to being busy.  Maybe if there was time, she would bake a chocolate cake.  She had been craving chocolate lately.

No Muss No Fuss Chocolate Cake

Recipe adapted from my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe and Hershey’s

Serves 12-16

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon espresso powder- optional

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup hot water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with baking spray.  Set aside.

Using a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined. Add oil, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir together until combined.  Add hot water and stir until completely blended.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Tap on the counter a couple of times to remove air bubbles.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Cool completely in the pan on the wire rack before frosting.  Once cool, frost the cake and decorate with sprinkles if desired.  Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.  Enjoy!

Ingredients for vanilla buttercream frosting:

11 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions:

Sift confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl or a large piece of parchment paper and set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer off and add the confectioner’s sugar.  Beat on a low speed then increase the speed slowly as sugar blends with the butter.   Once the sugar is incorporated add the vanilla, salt, and heavy cream.  Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Frost the cake as desired.

5 Cake Links

A cake for rhubarb lovers.

Angel food cake with a twist.

Lemon lovers here is your cake.

An olive oil and ricotta cake that screams spring.

If you make only one cake this spring make this cake. It is delicious!

Blueberry Blackberry Spoon Cake + 5 2021 Random Recipes I Need to Make

There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.” Hazart Inayat Khan

2021 is finally here. I have been away from this space for far too long with no real excuse other than not making it a priority. I plan on returning monthly in 2021. I hope this year brings you good health, hope, and peace. More writing and recipes to come. Stay healthy and safe!

Blueberry Blackberry Spoon Cake

Recipe adapted just slightly from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Serves 6

Ingredients for Blueberry Blackberry Filling:

2 teaspoons of lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon of flour

A pinch of Kosher salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 + ½ cups of fresh blackberries

Ingredients for cake batter topping:

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/3 cup of sour cream

¾ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup superfine sugar

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Place a sheet pan covered in foil on the bottom oven rack to catch any spills.

Using a 9-inch-deep dish pie plate mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, flour, and salt.  Add the blueberries and blackberries. Stir gently to coat them.          Set aside.

Next, whisk together the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, and vanilla in a medium bowl until just combined.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the butter and sour cream.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are just wet.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add the egg mixture in two parts beating on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Pour the batter of the berry mix leaving a 1-inch border.  Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of just the cake topping comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes.  If the cake browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.  Be sure to coat the foil with non-stick spray prior to using.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.  Store any leftovers in an air-tight container for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Recipes to Try for 2021

Some pasta.

S’more brownies.

Samoas- enough said.

Make ahead breakfast sandwiches– yes please.

Seared scallops because it feels like a restaurant meal and I miss restaurants.