cake, glorious cake OR i return to my comfort zone.

Last night I made cake. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

Wait, though – this one didn’t have fruit in it!

… Yeah. I have one trick. Cake is my trick. With that established, let’s move on.

Every year, food magazine stalwart Saveur runs a food blog competition that gets taken pretty seriously by the food blogosphere. I always sort through the categories I’m most interested in to find new blogs to read, which is how I found Best Cooking Blog finalist Alaina Sullivan’s palate/palette/plate, a cooking and baking blog “born from [her] urge to weld the worlds of food and art.” Which is just awesome.

Last night I tried my first recipe from her blog, this mocha-glazed chocolate cake. Aside from the tempting photos, I was intrigued by this cake because rather than using dairy products for lightness and moistness, it uses vinegar + baking soda! That’s right, this cake creates a mini-volcano experiment in its very batter. I had to try it.

While making the cake I found the batter quite lumpy and very difficult to smooth out. I’m not sure why this is – maybe water doesn’t break down creamed butter and sugar as well as other things? Either way, the lumpiness doesn’t seem to have affected the finished product, so if you choose to make this cake I wouldn’t worry about it. We do need to talk about the glaze, though. While reading the ingredients – 1.5 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup brewed coffee – I could tell something was seriously off, but I don’t have enough experience working with powdered sugar to feel comfortable adjusting those amounts. As expected, the final product was way too sweet and didn’t taste at all balanced, which led me and my dad to doctor it up into a much nicer final product. I’ve included my modified glaze in Notes & Verdicts below.

Notes & Verdict
Nana’s Chocolate Vinegar Cake with Mocha Frosting
by palate/palette/plate
Notes: So the glaze. The original is just not nice at all, in my opinion. Here’s my modified glaze. I think the flavors are much more balanced this way.
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup + 1.5 – 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
1/4 cup brewed coffee
Verdict: This is extremely nice. It’s a little on the sweet side for me, but then again, I don’t often make frosted cakes. I find that while on the first bite the contrast between the cake and the glaze can be jarring, as I carry on the flavors seem more and more complementary. I give this cake a B+.

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About Sara

I like to talk about media, food, and gender.
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5 Responses to cake, glorious cake OR i return to my comfort zone.

  1. Rosa says:

    I make a very similar cake, but with instant coffee in the cake itself (or, in a hippie-riffic pinch, a little bit of tincture of dandelion – the bitterness is important with how light the cake is, I think) and a boiled and beaten frosting. How was the texture on your altered glaze? The picture on the recipe looks like a semi-hard frosting more than a glaze.

    • Sara says:

      Boiled and beaten frosting? I am intrigued. I really, really hate frosting cakes, though.

      It was sort of a cross between a frosting and a glaze? It’s definitely pourable, but needs to be spread a bit, and only sinks into the cake itself a little. I found the texture very smooth. And I sort of love breaking through a semi-hard crust to get to a gooey filling, which this glaze achieves.

      • Rosa says:

        Boiled & beaten frosting – you make a milk & flour paste, and separately cream butter & sugar, and then after the paste cools you beat them together (with flavoring and sometimes a little cream of tartar for stability). It’s sort of fluffier and less sweet than buttercream. Doesn’t frost smooth.

        I do like that crunchy sugar shell over goo, too.

  2. k___ says:

    Vinegar baking soda cake! Yes. I made one of these about a month ago, it was part of a vegan recipe to ensure fluffiness while not using eggs and butter. Pro tip: try using fruit vinegars. I made mine with blackberry vinegar (because I am literally incapable of following a recipe without experimenting in altering it, even the very first time) and it added a really nice note to the chocolate cake.

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