Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday Treat

My Sunday treat is usually reading all afternoon, but yesterday, all I could think about was chocolate cake and reading. Fortunately, I had an easy solution at hand. The Wacky Cake recipe is strange (can anyone explain the chemistry of it??) so I like it for that, but it's also stupid-easy and so so so good.

My Sunday obsession further extended to Italian Meringue (what Martha Stewart calls it and cautions novices to stay away) which I make using the clever cheater method called "Quick Fluffy White Icing."

It's like a marshmallow crossed with meringue - if you've never had it, it will change your cravings forever. It takes 7 minutes to make, start to finish. That is good news, ladies!

Further Sunday decadence: we cut the cake a bare minute after it came out of the oven and dolloped the Italian Meringue right on top. And had seconds. A little indulgence is good for everyone; my family thought I was treating them, but the whole shebang took so little effort that I felt treated too. And then I finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for my book club. Humph.

Wacky Cake - from my mother
In 9x13 ungreased metal pan, mix together:
1.5 c. white flour
1.5 c. WW pastry flour (you can use all white if you want)
1 3/4 c. sugar (don't skimp - it's already reduced for a less sweet cake)
6 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
(a little instant coffee if you want)

Make 3 holes in the dry mixture.
In first hole: 1/2 c. vegetable oil
In second hole: 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
In third hole: 2 Tbs. vanilla

Pour 2 c. water over all and mix (I use a whisk) until all the lumps are gone. You will feel weird doing this, but mix it well.
Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. I've never seen this cake out of the pan, but I suppose you could try if you halved the recipe and used a traditional cake pan.

Quick Fluffy White Icing (from Mennonite Country Style with tweaks)
Figure out a double boiler (a metal bowl that fits tightly on top of a pan). Fill the pan at least half full of water and bring to a boil.
In top of double boiler (or metal bowl), combine off the heat:
2 egg whites
scant 3/4 c. white sugar
scant 1/3 c. corn syrup
2 Tbs. water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Now, set pan over the rapidly boiling water. Beat with electric mixer until mixture stands in stiff peaks (the tops of the peaks do not flop over when you turn off and lift the beaters to check). Remove from heat.

Add and continue beating into very stiff peaks:
1 tsp. vanilla

Keep it in the fridge and beat or stir if it separates at all; I've kept it for about a week before with no ill effects. It's soooooo good you will think of all kinds of applications. A few I like: on graham crackers, on scones, on hot chocolate. . . it's a generous batch so just get carried away!

Also on a Sunday note, we had dinner at church yesterday so all I made for Sunday dinner was bread to take along. Back next week with more Sunday dinner plans and menus!


Shasta said...

oh goody--more delish (& easy)looking desserts to try. thankya thankya. now I have to go look & see if I keep cream of tartar on hand...I think it's somewhere in there. :-)

(I like how you think-- "reading AND chocolate". Of Course!)

Anonymous said...

That's Grandma High's Crazy Cake!!!

She almost always put PB icing on it. I remember what seemed to be an endless supply of Crazy Cake at the cottage. Brings back some fond memories... :)

Anonymous said...

And I can explain the science behind it. That's my science nerd side shining through!

I think it actually calls for a cup of coffee, need to check.

Beth said...

I'll be over in 10. That okay? Girl, you are speaking my sweet lovein', cake makin' language! :-) Looks just wonderful.

Have you ever had hot fudge sundae cake? It's another unusual one...the way it's "constructed," but mmmmmm! To die for!

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

Now you've inspired a craving! I second Beth's hot fudge sundae cake recommendation -- I've used her recipe before and it's GOOD! I'll have to try yours, it's too easy not too.

I'm wondering, is the fluffy white icing the same as 7 Minute Frosting? My mother in law makes this from time to time and I love it!

Margo said...

Shana, do please explain the science. And now that you mention it, I do remember your grandma's cake and you even made it for us one summer.
Evie wanted PB icing, so I told her we'd just have to make another one!

Beth, please share your recipe. I ADORE hot fudge and both you and Christian said it's another easy cake.

Christian, I think that 7 Minute Frosting is the same thing, yes. I emphasized that it's easy because it does look a little complicated at first.

S, I know, cream of tartar, what IS that stuff? But actually, I read in Julia Child somewhere that you need to beat meringue in a copper bowl so it picks up acid to stabilize it. I understood that cream of tartar is the acid now, in absence of a copper bowl.

Rebecca said...

....well, and while you're at it, you just as well make snickerdoodles 'cause they call for cream of tartar, too.


Simple in France said...

Hey! I love it. My in-laws and I were trying to figure out how isle flotante is made--it looks exactly like some kind of unbaked meringue. We wondered if it was steamed. . .but I bet it is the technique you use. YUM! I love meringue. I'm going to have to try this at home . . .in France. I predict it will be a hit!

Beth said...

Margo, what's the best way to get you that recipe? I know you'll love it!

Margo said...

Beth, I just put my email link on my blog. Sorry for that ommission.

SIF, if you are referring to Floating Island (not that I speak French!), I have made that and it's amazingly good. I got my recipe from a 1950s Joy of Cooking. You make a custard sauce, put it in a baking dish, and heap meringue on top. Put in a slow oven until the tips of meringue are brown. But I could see making the Italian Meringue and just piling that on the custard sauce. There's also, apparently a French way to do it Oeufs a la Neige where they are poached in the custard sauce.

Beth said...

Will send it as soon as I get it typed up!