Sunday, November 20, 2011

Honey Chocolate Cake

In the late 80s, Saint Augustine's, my church, was involved in a soup kitchen called So Others Might Eat. Once a month, the parishioners brought in hot dogs, beans and cake to feed the homeless. To have something to do, and instill a social conscious in my 6 year old, he and I made cakes for SOME. We cranked out some huge number of cakes with the scrawl "for SOME" written in pencil next to the date.
Presumably I had some kind of a system in choosing which cakes to make. Either I was scared off by the long list of ingredients, or honey chocolate didn't sound good to me, and by extension, to homeless people. Anyway, honey chocolate cake was not one of the many flavors that got made in the 80s, so it was waiting for me on Friday night when I got down to making the dessert.
I didn't get around to making the cake until after 9:30 because after Bob got home, we went to Whole Foods to buy a few things for the dinner party and incidentally, our dinner. After spending a hundred dollars on what seemed like a few odds and ends, including a $32 pound of crab meat, we came home and I got to work. I sifted and beat and added and stirred, pausing just before I added the baking soda to eat some reheated manicotti. Finally, about 10:30, I got the cake into the oven and sat down in the wing chair to take a nap until it was ready to come out.
The cake turned out beautifully. The combination of honey, chocolate and orange rind forms an interesting, complex taste. There was no problem with skimpy batter. I was able to fill both cake pans to a respectable depth.
I didn't get around to frosting it until about 4:00 the following afternoon. The frosting is what is known as seven minute frosting, because it has to be beaten for 7 minutes over boiling water in order for the frosting to thicken. The recipe does indicate that the cook will be beating for more than seven minutes. I timed myself, and it took ten minutes to get a vaguely spreadable icing. The icing was white and thick. It sloooowly trickled down the side of the cake. My husband made the honey crumb topping and baked it in the oven until it became crispy. The guests loved it.

Honey Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup minus one tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
Honey Crumb Topping
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare cake, beat the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, very well. Stir in the vanilla, honey and orange rind.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Stir dry ingredients into batter alternately with the sour cream and orange juice.
4. Divide the batter between two greased and floured nine-inch layer pans. Bake twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until done.
5. Let stand on a rack.
6. To prepare frosting, place all ingredients in the top of a double boiler over rapidly boiling water.
7. Beat constantly for about seven minutes, remove from the heat and continue to beat until frosting is the correct consistency for filling and frosting the layers. (In my case, about ten minutes.)
8. Meanwhile, increase the oven heat to 400 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the crumb topping and spread on a baking sheet. Bake twelve to fifteen minutes, stirring every three minutes.
9. The crumb topping may be stirred into the frosting before using to fill and frost the layers or may be sprinkled over the filling and the frosted cake. Makes ten servings.

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