A lot of people have it in for Twitter. "What's the point? I guess I understand Facebook, but Twitter is just a waste of time."
Well. I disagree. Last Saturday dawned here a little overcast, but the sky soon darkened. And the deluge came. People probably think I should be used to rain, living in Portland and all. But this was no Portland rain, this was the kind you don't go out in. And the rain wasn't all. One household member got an H1N1 diagnosis, another looks as if he's about to come down with it. Everyone was just in a funk.
I checked in with my TweetDeck, and, thanks to Kim Severson of the New York Times, this tweet came across my screen: "Great advice from a 77-year-old Alabama cook: When you're feeling down just get in the kitchen and bake someone a cake."
It was the perfect day to read it.
The only problem. How do I bake a cake in a house with a husband, son, and niece, and then give it away? Then it hit me. I'd bake them the cake. And it would only be polite to join them for a piece. Luckily, they were nice enough to share.
After spending the better part of the morning leafing through cookbooks, trying to figure out what I wanted (not chocolate, maybe spice?), I made what I'm calling a Molasses Creole Cake. Two thin molasses layers, filled and iced with coffee creole boiled icing. The boiled icing was less sweet than normal, as it had espresso in it. And the molasses cake layers were dark and soft. Since I used blackstrap molasses, the cake had a slightly iron-like flavor that also helped temper the sweetness.
It was even better the next day. But gone the third. And you know, we all did feel a bit happier.
Molasses Creole Cake
adapted from The Joy of Cooking and the Fannie Farmer Baking Book
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups cake flour (sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
2 teaspoons rum
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup candied orange peel
- Preheat oven to 375º; grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans.
- Sift the cake flour with the baking soda.
- Combine the water and vanilla in a measuring cup.
- Beat butter until soft, add sugar gradually. Continue to beat until light and creamy. Beat in the two egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in the molasses.
- Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the water-vanilla mixture.
- Whip the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. Fold them into the batter.
- Divide the batter into the two prepared pans. Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans and let finish cooling on a rack.
When the cake is cool, prepare the frosting.
- Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes at 350º. When cool, chop them and the candied peel coarsely.
- Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, and coffee in a mixing bowl (at least 2-quart capacity) over the top of a double boiler. Set over simmering water on low heat.
- Beat with a electric hand mixer until the frosting stands in peaks--this should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and continue beating a few more minutes, to stiffen the frosting. It will stand in smooth peaks.
- Beat in the rum.
- Remove one-third of the frosting and put in a mixing bowl with most of the chopped nuts and peel (save a little of the nuts and peel for decorating the top of the cake).
Once the cake is cool, put one layer, flat side up, on your cake plate. Spread the frosting mixed with chopped nuts and peel almost to the edges. Put the second cake layer on top, and frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Decorate the tops with the reserved nuts and peel.