Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chocolate Coffee Crunch Cake

As part of my long-standing family tradition, I honor all requests for birthday cakes to the letter. When I was growing up, my mom would make every member of my nuclear family (there weren't all that many of us) whatever kind of cake we wanted...from scratch. The scratch part is important because the rest of the year it was all cake mixes and pre-packaged sorts of deals. I don't mean to talk smack about the whole pre-fabricated cake phenomenon. Now that I'm all grown up and just a bit handy in the kitchen, it strikes me that those boxes really save very little work. Like I told my sister a while ago, if you have flour, sugar, oil, baking soda/powder, water, and vanilla, you have a cake. Obviously some cakes are more complicated, but the basic principle holds. I suppose the mixes save a bit of time and measuring, but that's about it. I tend to prefer the greater flexibility and options involved with the little extra effort of baking from scratch, especially since basic recipes--like the one I made for C's birthday this year--are so completely simple. Though I may be personally leaning toward pie (in the epic struggle between pie and cake), birthday cakes are really one of my absolutely favorite things to bake. 

This cake, which we tentatively dubbed the Chocolate Coffee Crunch Cake, was dreamed up by a pair of vegan piggies as we engaged in a bit of brainstorming to come up with the perfect idea for a cake to celebrate his 32nd birthday. The chocolate was kind of inevitable. What IS IT  with people and chocolate cake? I am positively giddy on the rare occasions when people request Cherry Cake (like my sister) and Strawberry Cake (like our friend Lizz). I doubled the recipe for basic chocolate cake from VCTOtW and flavored the basic buttercream recipe with coffee extract. This cake really hinged, though, on the toffee. Though I have long gazed fondly from the sidelines, I haven't ventured much into the field of candy-making. This was the first recipe I've ever made where I didn't feel comfortable shrugging off the direction to heat to some specific temperature. Candy making seems to be all about precision, so I gleefully selected a candy thermometer and set to work. Thanks to the pioneering work and self-sacrifice of The Vegan Table, toffee is a confectionery delight that is well within an enterprising vegan's reach. That deceptively simple recipe, and the whole fabulous blog, can be found here.


Mihl said...

You are so right about those cake mixes! They don't save much work.
Your cake looks very tasty.

Martha said...

Miso tofu stew! Awesome!!