Here’s a go-to set of recipes for when time is short but delicious cake is a must. There are no elaborate layers of buttercream or fussy techniques here to slow you down; instead, you’ll find quick cakes, many of which don’t even need a mixer or more than one bowl to make. From start to finish, most of these recipes can be made in an hour or so, including bake time. Just a drizzle of heavy cream over the top and you’re ready to serve!
These recipes span our country’s past, from colonial times when molasses-sweetened desserts were common (Shoo-Fly Cake, page 19) and cakes were typically baked in a cast-iron skillet (Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake, page 25) up to the 1940s, when Ozark Pudding Cake (page 26) was served in the White House and desserts like Wacky Cake (page 21) and Berry Long Cake (page 17) were popular with frugal bakers for their inexpensive ingredients.
These are the pages in this book that will undoubtedly become splotched with butter stains and dotted with chocolate fingerprints from repeated use. For a crowd, try the super moist chocolate Texas Sheet Cake (page 22), loved by kids of all ages. If you want a cake you can pop out of the oven and onto the table, turn to the pear-studded Ozark Pudding Cake (page 26), which wafts heavenly aromas from an ironclad skillet. And for a quick cake you can eat for breakfast, lunch, or after dinner, try Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake (page 24), with all its coconut goodness. All of the cakes in this chapter are quick and easy to make, and even easier to eat! Texas Sheet Cake
When time is tight and you need to throw something together for a picnic or a potluck or a bake sale, this is the perfect crowd pleaser. It’s a large, thin layer of tender chocolate cake slathered with gooey chocolate frosting and sprinkled with toasted nuts. The frosting gets poured onto the cake when they are both still warm. Some say “don’t mess with Texas,” but this cake can easily be spiced up by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients or by swapping coffee for the hot water.
32 to 35 minutes
15 by 10 by 2-inch baking pan, greased Cake
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (13/4 ounces) lightly packed premium unsweetened natural cocoa (see Cocoa Confusion, page 35)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup water
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (1 ounce) lightly packed premium unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups (12 ounces) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (21/8 ounces) toasted chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts; see Toasting Nuts, page 114)
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375°F.
To make the cake, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa. Add the oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the sifted ingredients and whisk until just combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake until the top is firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, 32 to 35 minutes.
While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil; boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously. Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the hot cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Try not to jiggle the cake before it sets or you’ll leave waves in the frosting. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
Well wrapped and stored at room temperature, this cake keeps for up to 5 days.
Copyright © 2012 by Julie Richardson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.