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!

Rhubarb Icebox Cake + 5 Icebox Cake Links For Summer

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This recipe for rhubarb-strawberry icebox cake is a riff on the traditional chocolate icebox cake. It is easy to make and tastes like summer. It seems foolish to even post this recipe with so much unrest and pain in our world. I can appreciate the black squares that popped up all over Instagram shortly after the horrific killing of George Floyd, however, if white people truly want to support the Black Lives Matter cause it is time to donate whatever money you can. If you can’t donate money, donate your time. Less talk and more action will lead to change. Here are a few local resources for Massachusetts residents but many of these organizations have chapters throughout the country. Please have a look and donate what you can. Every bit helps.

Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/chapters/,

NAACP: https://www.naacp.org/,

National Police Accountability Project: https://www.nlg-npap.org/

Massachusetts Bail Fund: https://www.massbailfund.org/

Youth Enrichment Services https://yeskids.org/

Rhubarb Icebox Cake

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for Cookies:

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup of sugar

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Ingredients for rhubarb filling:

4 cups washed, diced rhubarb, about ½ inch pieces

¾ cup of sugar

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Ingredients for whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream, cold

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries, sliced thin for garnish if desired

Directions for cookies:

Preheat your oven to 300F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a small bowl mix together the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together the vanilla mixture, almond extract, sugar, and butter until well-combined and smooth.  Add the flour.  Mix until the dough comes together.  Use a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop and scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets.  Press the cookies flat with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar to ¼ inch thickness.  Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Once cooked, transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Directions for the rhubarb filling:

Add the prepared rhubarb, ½ cup of sugar, nutmeg, orange zest, and ginger to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Mix together cornstarch, remaining sugar, and two tablespoons of cold water.  Add to rhubarb filling and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the filling no longer appears cloudy.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Directions for whipped cream:

Chill a mixing bowl.  Once chilled, add the heavy cream and sugar.  Whip until the cream thickens soft to medium peaks form.  Add vanilla.  Set aside or chill until ready to assemble the cake.

Assembly time!

Spread a tablespoon of rhubarb filling on top of a cookie then add another cookie to make a sandwich.  Continue to add filling and cookie, stacking them on top of each other.  Once you have 6 or so sandwiches, lay the cookies horizontally on a tray or serving dish.  Continue adding cookie sandwiches until all of the cookies and filling are used.  Spread prepared whipped cream over the entire cake, top and sides.  Make sure all of the cookies are covered with whipped cream.  Place the cake in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.  Before serving, decorate with fresh strawberries, thinly sliced.  Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.  Enjoy!

5 Icebox Cake Links

My grandmother made an icebox cake she called three layer delight for years when I was growing up.  I adored it and I think you will too.  Here is the recipe from Mountain Mama Cooks.

Looking for an icebox cake that serves one or maybe two? Your search is over.  I am a food blog has a recipe for mini green tea chocolate no-bake icebox cake that is sure to satisfy any craving.

Alexandra Cooks is by far my favorite food blog.  Check out her recipe for chocolate-espresso cake icebox cake.  You will not be disappointed.

Switch up your traditional chocolate wafer icebox cake and try Zoe Bake’s icebox cake with chocolate wafers and caramel whipped cream.  This is on my must-make list!

Now that it is blueberry season why not try a blueberry lemon icebox cake.  Crazy for Crust’s recipe screams summer!