A Mother, a Daughter, and a Chocolate Cake…

Well, I am definitely my mother’s daughter. For one, being vertically challenged, we  hover around 5′. We both started graying in our twenties and we absolutely panic when confronted with a mathematical problem. Fortunately it doesn’t stop at that; there’s a bright side too. We love working with our hands, sharing an almost compulsive need to create. We love to laugh, joke and play, but most of all, we are ALWAYS ready for a good dessert.

My mother’s daughter…
Those who know me, are aware of my passion for desserts, the seeds of which were sown very early on in my childhood, by my mom’s love for baking and her unending experimentation in the kitchen. India in the 80’s was not really conducive to these experiments with ingredients hard to come by. But, that never deterred my mom. She would try to figure out substitutes for the ingredients she could’nt find at hand and would somehow manage to create lovely desserts.

“Mama, don’t start baking anything until I come back from school!” I used to repeat on and on like a broken record. I loved to watch her bake; waiting for my chance to participate in any little way that she’d permit me, my favorite, of course, being licking the batter. Of all the goodies baked, the most often repeated was the Chocolate Pound Cake and  over time, it’s presence in the refrigerator  became a norm. I expected to see it when I opened the fridge, just as one expects to find milk.

So one day, opening the fridge and not finding any cake, must have come as a rude shock to me. I don’t recall the incident too well, but I might have had a minor tantrum that could have ticked off my mom which might have provoked her into taunting me to do it myself. Well, whatever the story, it led to my first solo baking adventure at age 8. I don’t recall how the cake turned out but I realized that day that I had been bitten by the baking bug!

Bitten by the baking bug!!!

When I came to the US in 1998, imagine my delight when I saw that every grocery store had a baking aisle!!!  I began experimenting in earnest, trying out many different recipes, tweaking them to create my ultimate comfort food: the best chocolate cake that would hit the spot! Over the years there have been many good recipes, but I will share my absolute favorite…

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake!!!

(the recipe is included at the very end)

Here is a step by step visual guide to creating this awesome cake, and since I am first and foremost a potter, you will get to meet some lovely handmade pots on the way.

Ingredients at a glance. Everything needs to be at room temperature.
Preheat the oven at 325 F.
Grease a 15 cup bundt pan with melted butter.
Dust it with cocoa powder.
Sieve together  2 &1/4 cups of all  purpose flour, 1 &1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.
Keep aside.
Chop up 7 oz of your favorite eating chocolate. For me, that will be Lindt Dark with a touch of Sea Salt.
Try not to nibble too much. If you eat them now, trust me, your cake won’t taste as good. These chocolate bits will go into the batter at the very end.
In a bowl, add 1 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 tbs coffee and 7 &1/2 oz of semi sweet chocolate.( I like to use Lindt 70% dark chocolate). Pour 1 & 1/4 cup  of boiling water over it.
Blend well till the mixture becomes smooth. Looks tempting, doesn’t it? But don’t bother licking it…it will be too bitter. Believe me, I have tried it.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat  2 & 1/2 sticks of  butter on medium high speed till creamy. ( A little less than a minute.)
Add 2 & 1/2 cups of brown sugar. Beat again at medium high speed.
Continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add eggs one at a time, beating about two minutes before adding the next one. Continue the process till all 5 eggs have been incorporated. The batter will become fluid and smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Add 4 tsp vanilla extract and beat enthusiastically for another minute.
Reduce the mixer speed to slow and add  the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour.
Add  1 &1/2 cups of sour cream in two additions and end with the last 1/3rd of the flour mixture. At this stage, beat at the slowest speed  just until the ingredients are mixed in.
Add the chocolate-cocoa-coffee mixture to the batter, and continue to blend at the lowest speed.
Blend till there are no visible white streaks, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Be careful not to over beat.
Now add those chocolate bits to the batter that you have resisted eating with so much self-discipline.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate bits.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
Set it in the preheated oven and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it.
While the cake is baking, don’t forget to indulge in the most important ritual…
…till you have licked the bowl clean!!!
Once baked, set the cake on a wire rack to cool. It will be too hot to eat, so hold on for now and just enjoy the delicious aroma that fills the kitchen!
Once it’s at room temperature, flip it on to a cake stand…what a beauty!!! Now if you just can’t wait, go ahead and dig in. But, if you’d like to slice it perfectly, let it cool in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that the cake is structurally stronger.
If you want perfect looking slices, it is important that the cake is cool, but not super cold. (Remember, we have chocolate bits in there which would prevent clean slicing if they are too hard) Dip the knife into boiling hot water, wipe, and then using the hot knife cut straight down and drag the knife out. Dip and wipe the knife after each cut.
Do I need to tell you what to do next…?

Now it is my daughter who expects to always find this chocolate cake in the refrigerator.

A Mother, a Daughter and a Chocolate Cake…the tradition continues…

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe:

For the cake:
· 1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan
· 1 tablespoon coffee
· 7 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
· 1 1/4 cup boiling water
· 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
· 1 tsp. salt
· 20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
· 2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar plus 4 tsb white sugar
· 5 eggs, lightly beaten
· 4 tsp. vanilla extract
· 1 1/2 cups sour cream
· 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the Anniversary Bundt Cake Pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.
To make the cake, in a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder, coffee and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.
Over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are about 1 inch higher than the center. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan. When cool to touch, Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.

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