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Words from Friends…

Posted Mar 18 2011 1:13pm

As you read this, The Scientist and I will be on the road for a little weekend away. I predict food, beer, and a pool in our future! Tea Party Karen was kind enough to write this guest post about her most recent baking experience. She makes me laugh in person. She makes me laugh through her writing. I hope you enjoy as much as I did! See ya on Monday!

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If you happen to tell Erin that you’re working up a new recipe, she just might say, “You should write a guest post for my blog.” 
 
And you might just say, “Hell ya.”
 
Then, if you’re like me, the recipe will go terribly, terribly wrong.  And you’ll end up writing a blog post about what an idiot you are.
 
Welcome to my world.
 
Let’s start with a confession.  I have never made a layer cake.  I have never witnessed the making of a layer cake.  When I was a kid, we just served birthday cakes out of the pan they were baked in. 
 
 

What can I say?  It was the 80s.
 
But, I decided to snazz it up for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner this year.  Hence…
 
Irish Chocolate Cake
 
In the mix  
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate
4 ounces butter
3/4 cup fine sugar
3 ounces cooked mashed potato (Now you understand why Erin suggested the guest post!)
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk 
 
Start with a trip to the store.  Try not to be overwhelmed by choices at the chocolate aisle.
 
 

Personally, the darker the better for me.  But, you don’t want to overpower the cake.  I went for a nice, safe 72%.
 
My store doesn’t stock self-rising flour.  A quick check on my trusty phone told me I could make self-rising flour at home with just  
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 
 

Awesome.   One batch of self-rising flour, coming right up!  Of course, the recipe makes more than you need.  You could do the math, but I’m lazy.  So, I made the whole batch and threw away that extra 1/4 cup!
 
After you’ve gotten over the horror of throwing away perfectly good self-rising flour, don’t forget to add in that that extra 1/2 teaspoon salt.  You should be left with a bowl of nicely mixed dry ingredients.
 
(You’ll notice I don’t have a photo of that step…because I forgot to do it.  In fact, I forgot about that “extra” salt until the cakes had already been in the oven for ten minutes.  By then, I was stuck with cakes that hadn’t risen and it was way, way too late.)
 
Start by making a mashed potato.  Yes.  Just one.  All you’re looking for is three ounces, and the average potato weighs…
 
 

Yeah, you’d be better off just taking a scoop from the leftover mashed potatoes you had with dinner last night.  Just pull out a scoop before you make them spicy, or garlicky, or weird in any way.  Because when it comes down to it, you need a very small amount.
 
 

I always have a handy scale available, but I’d estimate that’s about 1/3 cup mashed potatoes.
 
Next up, melt the chocolate.  No need for a fancy double boiler.  Just chop up your chocolate with a sharp knife like so  
 

And stick it in the microwave on defrost for :30 at a time.
 
Sadly, my microwave was on the fritz, so I stuck a cereal bowl in a pan of simmering water.
 
 

While the chocolate cools, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the chocolate and the mashed potato.
 

 

Add in the egg and flour mixture, a little bit at a time.  When you’re done, you’ve got an incredibly fluffy looking batter.
 
 

Looks a little thick, doesn’t it?  Time to add in that extra 4 tablespoons of milk!
 
 

Spray Pam in a couple of round cake tins.  (The recipe calls for 8 inch, but mine were 9 inch.)  Cut out rounds of parchment paper and spray ‘em a little more.  We don’t want those babies to stick!
 
Spread the batter evenly between the two pans.  The batter will be very thick and it will only fill up the very bottom of the cake tins.  I briefly wondered whether I was supposed to make a batch for each tin.  In fact, I still think that probably would have worked out better…
 
Pop them in a 375 degree oven. 
 

The recipe says to bake them for 25-30 minutes, but that was way too long.  Do me a favor and check them after 20 minutes.  The top should be “firm but springy to the touch.”   They probably should NOT look like this  
 

But, hey, if they do…just plunk them down on some cooling racks and pour yourself a glass of Baileys while you make the frosting!
 
 

Frosting!

In the mix 3 ounces dark chocolate
3 fluid ounces heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
 
 

Speaking of Bailey’s, did you know that that stuff expires?  Mine did.  In 2006!
 
 

Don’t worry.  I bought a brand new tiny bottle of Baileys for this cake.  The original recipe said to use 3 tablespoons of Baileys.  But, I got confused and thought it was 3 oz.  I figured it out after I had already added a bit too much.  Good thing, too.  Because the kick-ass frosting totally saved my otherwise sad, flat, burnt, hockey puck of a cake!
 
Melt the chocolate and let it cool.  Enjoy the pretty, pretty swirls when you add the cream and the Baileys.
 
 

Add the powdered sugar until you get the consistency that you prefer! 
 
After everything that went wrong and all the horror stories I’ve heard about frosting layer cakes, I decided to set myself up with a little liquid courage.
 
 

No worries.  Frosting was the easy part.  Turns out, burnt cakes are easy to frost!  In the end, I decided the only problem with my frosting job was that it was boring, so I added little swirls.
 
 

Believe it or not, everyone ate the cake and said it was yummy.  Not surprisingly, no one asked for seconds.  I asked my friends to guess the secret ingredient.  (That would be mashed potatoes, in case you’ve already forgotten.)  Someone said, “Is the secret ingredient crunchy?”
 
No… No… That would be the burnt bits.

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