I will have to share this posts with my family because until today, this recipe had been a very well kept secret. We have a unique mix of cultures in my family. It seems like everyone comes from somewhere else but there is one thing we all always enjoy no matter what side of the family you may be from.
My grandmother taught me to make them when I was probably about 4. First she would have me mix them and stir them around and she would put them in the oven for me, then after a few years I was allowed to make them on my own and we normally did it anywhere from once a month to every weekend until I was about 16 depending on our moods and who might be having a birthday.
You are going to need the following but no matter what you do, make your own little change to the recipe. I do it every time to switch it up a little (just don't add too much salt or take away the baking soda or you will end up with a mess). I will secretly slip a melted chocolate bar in or shave off some extremely dark chocolate into the frosting and stir it around so that it still looks as it always has but with a completely new flavor. Its a tradition! Go for it! I even sneak strawberry or raspberry preserves in between the layers on occasion, though if you do that make sure you use preserves and not jam, the flavor keeps much better in the oven than it does with jam.
2 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups milk (use dried milk and rehydrate it. It is part of the trick :-p)
3/4 cup shortening (or 1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil)
2 or 3 eggs (the more eggs the more moist it will be)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit and use olive oil or vegetable oil to grease the pan or cake mold you will be using (you can also do cupcakes). Here is part of the trick. You know where most recipes tell you to mix all of the ingredients into a bowl together? Yeah. This part I try to never stray on. Add the eggs and start mixing, make sure the yoke break and that it looked mixed enough that if you were making scrambled eggs you wouldn't end up with white spots. Then add the milk and shortening. Mix is well and then add in all of the powders starting with the cocoa and going from there. If I ever change this up, it is normally just me doing the same thing but in reverse and for longer but it is much harder to do that way since I mix it by hand. If you have a mixer you can easily pull it off.
You can split it into two layers so that you can frost in between them and because two layers it much easier to cook evenly than the larger one layer pans. You bake for about 32 minutes in my oven but if you have one that tends to get a little too hot, then about 25-30 and if yours tends to be slow to heat up then give it anywhere from 35-40 minutes.
After it is done cooking go ahead and remove it from the pans and onto cooling racks after cooling for a little less than 10 minutes. You want it to still be warm enough that it comes out smoothly. Then after letting it cool down the rest of the way you can frost them with your favorite frosting and you are good to go! I tend to go with chocolate or mocha frosting but the frosting if half the fun and there are so many different types to try! Think of your favorite fruit or berry if you don't want to go with a chocolate, coffee or vanilla and go from there (don't forget you can also add fresh fruit into the mix or as a garnish)!
As for toppings/garnish. Don't forget, you can top a cake with just about anything. Most of my family like for me to do these cakes for their birthdays if we are spending them together and I try to incorporate their favorite things into the base recipe. Take my fiance's father. He LOVES snickers. My plan for his next birthday includes dices snickers in the center and as a topping if I can pull it off! Or my fiance loves peanut butter so I am going to try out getting some organic freshly made peanut butter from the market and adding that into the chocolate frosting!
So go forth and create!
Go out and try it! Tell me what you think or what variations you would like to try!
What is your favorite flavor you might be able to incorporate?
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