Jan 27th.- Today is National Chocolate Cake Day, and frankly we can’t think of a better holiday. I mean, a whole day devoted to cake?
The earliest record of using chocolate dates back before the Olmec. In November 2007, archaeologists reported finding evidence of the oldest known cultivation and use of cacao at a site in Puerto Escondido, Honduras, dating from about 1100 to 1400 BC.
The residues found and the kind of vessel they were found in indicate the initial use of cacao was not simply as a beverage, but the white pulp around the cacao beans was likely used as a source of fermentable sugars for an alcoholic drink.
The Maya civilization grew cacao trees in their backyards, and used the cacao seeds it produced to make a frothy, bitter drink.
Documents in Maya hieroglyphs stated chocolate was used for ceremonial purposes, in addition to everyday life.
The chocolate residue found in an early ancient Maya pot in Río Azul, Guatemala, suggests the Maya were drinking chocolate around 400 AD.
But we’re talking about chocolate cake, right?
The history of chocolate cake in the US goes back to 1764, when Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones.
Baker set up shop in Dorchester, Mass. He was a Harvard doctor and businessman who had launched America’s first permanent and profitable chocolate factory, stepped down after nearly four decades as “the king of cocoa.” He chose his son Edmund as the successor to the family business.
Here is an old fashioned chocolate cake recipe for you to celebrate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup best-quality cocoa
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
Special equipment: 2 (each 8-inch diameter) layer tins with removable bases, buttered
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
Sugar flowers, to decorate, optional
Take everything out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.
Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25 minutes. Also, it might make sense to switch the 2 cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the frosting later.
To make this icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
While the chocolate and butter is cooling a little, sieve the confectioners’ sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz to remove lumps.
Add the corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved confectioners’ sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor onto the powdered sugar, with the motor running.
You may need to add a little boiling water, say a teaspoon or so, or indeed some more confectioners’ sugar, depending on whether you need the frosting to be thinner or thicker. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.
Choose your cake stand or plate and cut 4 strips of baking parchment to form a square and sit 1 of the cakes, uppermost (i.e. slightly domed) side down.
Spoon about 1/3 of the frosting onto the center of the cake-half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the 2 together.
Spoon another 1/3 of the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with icing and leave a few minutes until set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.