Wednesday, September 14, 2011

92 candles for our favorite family cake!

This is my Popop a while back.

A tall, handsome, hardworking man. He has the biggest hands I have ever seen. He could wrestle a gorilla if he wanted. And he was the epitome of sustainable living. All of this trendy gardening, efficient-green living was his life. He knew the ground like the back of those big hands. He was green before we knew what it was. And he has the most gentle, kind spirit. I'll never forget when I first witnessed racism and asked my father about it. He told me that his daddy always told him that every other man puts on their pants the same way you do, so you shouldn't treat them any different. Now don't get me wrong, he wasn't all sugar. He'll set you straight if you're out of line but he's the sweetest grandfather and every memory I have of him is a pleasant one. I am so thankful for that.

But this is Popop now (and my Dad with him.)

On his 92nd birthday, he couldn't get out of bed. His back was hurting and he wasn't really speaking to us. His dimensia has progressed so that he doesn't recognize us much any more but he rallies every once in a while to tell us important things, like that my Dad is a good boy or that I'm somethin' special. He wasn't up for cake on the big day but the day after, he slowly but surely enjoyed a piece with Dad's help and a cup of cold milk.

Popop could eat a horse. On many occasions as a little girl, I marveled at the amount of food he could eat without ever gaining a pound. And boy did he have a sweet tooth, something he's passed down to all of us. The man could eat chocolate cake around any hormonal lady. So when my Dad asked me to bake Popop a cake for the blog, we talked about our traditional family cake. "The one with the cooked frosting and coffee?," I said? That's the one. It's been passed down for many years now from our Great Aunt Sue and shared with friends and family alike. It's the most deliciously moist cake I've ever had and the frosting is truly unique.

We contemplated making this a secret family recipe. Well, by we, I mean my sister and I. But the more important family members who have made this longer than we have, insist it's for everyone to know about. I've always despised secrets in family cooking anyway. Food is for sharing with people you love. If you use someone else's recipe, just please give them credit. It's the baker's code of ethics. Give credit where it's due and while you're practicing that, you must must make this cake.

Aunt Sue's Chocolate Cake with Cooked Frosting

2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa
2 c sugar

Sift the above ingredients together into your mixer.

1 c vegetable oil
1 c hot coffee
1 c milk

Add to mixer with dry ingredients and set to medium for two minutes.

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Add to batter and mix another two minutes. (it will be VERY soupy. Don't be alarmed, that means it will be the most incredible cake you'll ever put in your mouth! Not a problem.)

Pour batter in a greased and floured 9x13 (or 2 9 in. cake pans, keeping in mind that this moist of a cake is sometimes difficult to frost!!)
Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:

1 c milk
5 tbs flour

Warm milk in a sauce pan and quickly whisk in the flour. Once mixture thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool until cake is ready to frost.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine these ingredients with the flour (gloop!) and mix until smooth with a stand or hand mixer. Frost cooled cake and serve!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Well bless my soul.

I forgot to post a recipe a few weeks back. Like maybe even the most important recipe I've made in a long time.

It's not an exaggeration when I tell you that I live for the moments when food exceeds every expectation I could possibly put on it. I can count the times this has happened on maybe... one hand? Not sure. Coffee encrusted elk. Il Canale pizza. Authentic Asian dishes (specific much? Nope.) The list continues with unique concoctions usually not made by my hands. Sometimes, I am impressed with the way something turns out that is from my own silly head. I'm always thrilled when something that is very difficult to make, is made well That's always a surprise and is hosted by a great sense of accomplishment. (Hope to be bringing that to you in about 6 days...Stay tuned.)

But this time, folks. This time. My friend Katelyn and I hit the nail on the head. I won't be eating plain pancakes again. This is one of the best things I've ever had. Paired with the turkey sausage unique to our Amish market, I was in heaven. And it sure ain't fancy. Standard. Simple. And that's all you need. Bring out your inner Southern belle, I dare you.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
makes about 12 medium sized hotcakes

2 sweet potatoes baked, mashed (to equal about 1.5 c)
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c oat flour
3/4 c brown rice flour
3.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1.25-1.5 c milk, depending on consistency of the batter nearing the end of mixing

- Mix together sweet potato, butter, eggs and vanilla in a medium sized bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk into sweet potato mixture. Add milk until batter reaches a pourable consistency. Cook as you would any normal, previously self-respecting pancake!