Monday, September 21, 2009

OK, so size does matter.....

And I set my oven on fire this weekend to prove it. You'd think that after baking for the majority of my 50+ years that I'd have figured out that when a recipe calls for a certain size pan that I'd be smart enough to use the recommended pan. Hmmmm. Well not so much.

I was a bit bored on Sunday night and as as usual that means I head for the kitchen. I've been wanting to bake something to share with the neighbors since they were kind enough to provide macaroni salad the previous week. Never one to return a food container empty, I decided upon a recipe I found in one of my favorite cookbooks "The Cake Book" by Tish Boyle.

Chocolate Guinness Cake promised rich chocolate-y flavor with an earthy stout background. A quick check of the pantry showed all ingredients present - strangely enough even a bottle of Guinness that I keep on hand for a guest or two fond of the stout - so I uncovered the mixer and away I went! The recipe called for baking the cake in a 9x3" springform pan but all that I had in the kitchen was a regular 9" cake pan. So I figured that taking some of the extra batter and baking 3 smaller ramekin-size cakes would make up the difference.

Ooops, WRONG. 30 minutes into the baking time I could smell something burning from the living room. Uh, oh! The larger pan had overspilled it's rim and my deep, dark, chunky, chocolatey batter was spilling all over the bottom of my oven. Not to be undone by a bit of smoke in the kitchen, I removed the ramekins (which were nicely done) and continued the baking process for the larger cake. A few minutes later the odor of smoke became a bit alarming so a quick peek inside the oven revealed flames shooting up from the bottom of the oven floor.

Oh lordy, what a mess! A quick dash of water onto the burning bits and I really couldn't do much more than continue baking the cake until it was done and hope for no more flaming. 10 minutes later I removed the cake and trimmed off the edges (funny that bit wasn't in the original instructions!), let it cool a while and turned it out to rest for the night.

After all that drama, I did indeed turn out luscious, earthy, chocolate, moist cakes of varying sizes suitable for sharing with the neighbors. Not quite the tall picture of goodness in the book, but very delicious and definately worth trying again AFTER going to the basement to retrieve the correct size pan!

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE

1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
20 Tbls. unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups Guinness stout (1 12-oz bottle)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bottom and sides of a 9-b7-3-inch cake or springform pan.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together and set aside.

Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add brown sugar and beat on high until very light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to meium and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the stout, mixing until blended.

Add the nuts and mix just till combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the bake for 70-75 minutes until cake tests done. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

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