Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday Night Chocolate Walnut Mocha Bundt Cake

Mmmm mmmmm....

Too many hours of reading, reading, reading, which means an hour of measuring and mixing and baking to keep me sane. One may wonder how I decide what to make (okay, maybe you don't wonder, but indulge me for a moment anyway). Well, it's a smooth sort of negotiating act, really, as I flip through the pages of my multiple baking books looking for enticing pictures. Sometimes I'll have something specific in mind, like maybe cake, or even chocolate cake. But more often than not, I don't, so I just browse pictures. No picture, no baked good. However, if a corner of fluffy chocolate ginger cake or a lemony meringue pie catches my eye, it goes into the running. If a picture doesn't cut it that time, it's out. Next, and this is the tricky part, I try to figure out what treat I can make with the ingredients I've got in my house. Often times I'm Googling substitutions, trying to figure out if I have enough sour cream to make sour cream bundt cake if I stretch it with a little milk and butter (not tonight, sadly), or if I can use nonfat milk powder and half and half in place of whole milk (a definite yes). It's quite a little dance. Whatever recipe makes these final rounds as the outstanding possibility gets made. Tonight: Chocolate Walnut Mocha Bundt Cake from Dorie Greenspan.

By the way, I highly recommend Ms. Greenspan's book, "Baking," not for its high-culture baking knowledge and elegant goods, but because it contains a multitude of items, many of which are not complicated (translate: you might actually make them, especially when you decide on a whim you want to bake). She writes up variations on almost every one of her recipes, so if you do have something particular in mind and you can't find it in another book, it's often there in hers. My mom gave this book to me for Christmas a couple of years back, and it's become a real go-to, especially with those pictures I love.

Thursday Night Chocolate Walnut Mocha Bundt Cake

Depending on how much of a workaholic you are, you might be able to make this cake on a Thursday night. If you can't make it, I recommend becoming fed up for at least an hour or two with your status as a workaholic while you stir up this cake. Once it goes in the oven, you can resume. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to be in school while my husband works. I do repay him with the delicious cake, however.

Without further ado, here is the recipe that made it through tonight's "cuts".

"Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake"
from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking"

Note: When you are marbling a cake, you need to really go easy on the knife zig-zags. Don't get excited, folks. A few zigs and you're done.

2 1/4 c flour
1/2 c ground walnuts (I used a food processor)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks plus 2 T unsalted butter
3 oz (a scant half cup) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (chocolate chips work fine)
1/4 c coffee, hot or cold
1 tsp finely ground instant coffee
1 3/4 c sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 c whole milk

1. Butter and flour your bundt pan, or any 12-cup cake pan (you could also use 2 loaf pans, or other pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, walnuts, baking powder and salt.

2. In a double boiler, put the 2 T butter (cut up into pieces), chocolate, and two kinds of coffee. Heat on low and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

3. Beat butter in mixer. Add sugar and blend. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Mix well.

4. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and with 3 total portions of dry and 2 of milk. Think: dry, milk, dry, milk, dry. Mix.

5. Scrape a little less than half the batter into the chocolate mixture. Mix to combine.

6. Scrape all of the white batter into the bottom of the bundt. Top with the chocolate batter. Run a table knife SPARINGLY in a zig-zag pattern through the bundt for a chocolate-in vanilla pattern. Alternatively, for a real marbled effect, alternate large spoonfuls of white and chocolate batter in the pan, then swirl with knife.

7. Bake for 65-70 minutes (mine took just 60 minutes, so go easy here; don't overbake!). Transfer to rack to cook for ten minutes. Then unmold the cake and cool completely on the rack.

The chocolate, butter and coffee in the double boiler.

The chocolate, butter and coffee melted and mixed together.

The white batter in the mixer.

A little less than half of the white batter in the chocolate mixture, waiting to be combined.

White batter and chocolate mixture combined to form the chocolate batter.

*Ms. Greenspan says the cake keeps for 5 days at room temp wrapped tightly, or you can freeze it. She also notes that if it gets stale it is good toasted for breakfast. I know first-hand that bundt cake is good toasted for breakfast, because my parents' friend, Wendy, makes the most delicious poppy seed cake in a bundt pan, and we used to eat it toasted with butter for breakfast on Cape Cod. GREAT way to start summer vacation.

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