21 July 2009

Recipe: How to Make German Chocolate Cake Without a Mix

Ancestral Memory - Michael Lewis Miller - Germ...German Chocolate Cake Image by Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer via Flickr

From Denny: Louisiana has a strong heritage from Germany as they immigrated here over 150 years ago! One of the delights we quickly absorbed and love to this day is their German Chocolate Cake.

While there are those folks in Louisiana who use convenience foods some of the time, a lot of us stick to "the old ways" of what is called "cooking from scratch." What that means is that everything is fresh. I also think that is why Cajun and Creole food is so popular beyond the spices; it's all about the dedication to freshness even by simple home cooks.

The problem with pre-packaged foods is that they are often months old while languishing on the shelf, stuffed full of preservatives to make it still healthy enough to use in a recipe - which is why it probably is not as palatable as it could be. Too bad food companies would not do a special promotion of "Just fresh from the factory to you, only 3 days old!" I might be more inclined to use more of their products. :)

Now that the economy has everyone so wallet conscious people really are motivated to learn how to be more independent of convenience foods! I've never been a huge fan of cake mixes as the texture seems to be so, well, gummy. Too many preservatives and who knows what else is in there you don't know about. More than anything, it's a great idea to learn how to make your favorite foods without pre-packaged kitchen helpers so you don't become miserably co-dependent. You also end up with a much higher quality and fresher food!

Found this little gem of a recipe over at the AOL food section. I've always enjoyed German Chocolate Cake but the cake mixes often leave a lot to be desired. Here is the real deal like people used to make it in our grandmothers' time before the large conglomerate food companies started pushing cheap imitation cake mixes on busy women trying to get a good meal on the table in less time.

There are some things that just require the time to make them. You can always break up most recipes into smaller time allotments over a few days when you are pressed for time - or suffer from ADD and can't focus for long. Either way you get to eat well! :)

German Chocolate Cake

From: Stephanie Zonis, "For Chocolate Lover's Only," StarChefs.com
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins



2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

1-1/4 cups chopped pecans

1 cup evaporated milk

4 egg yolks, from eggs graded "AA large" (Denny note: AA is fresher than A)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

9 Tablespoons (1 stick + 1 Tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into pats

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pats

2-1/2 cups flour

2-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

Pinch salt

2 eggs, graded "AA large" - beaten to mix

2 teaspoons vanilla


For Frosting:

Combine coconut and pecans in small bowl and set aside. Pour small amount of evaporated milk into heavy-bottomed, nonreactive 2 quart pot. Add egg yolks. With large spoon, beat to mix well. Gradually and alternately add remaining evaporated milk and both sugars, beginning with evaporated milk and stirring well after each addition. Add butter pats. Place over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture just comes to a boil (it may appear as though very slight curdling takes place as mixture heats--OK). Remove from heat immediately; mixture will be thin. Stir in coconut and pecans, then add vanilla. Cool briefly, then chill. As frosting chills, beat occasionally with large spoon. Frosting should thicken considerably to spreading consistency in 2-1/2 to 3 hours, but it's OK if it needs to chill longer--this frosting won't harden completely.

For Cake:

Grease two 9" by 2" deep round layer cake pans with vegetable shortening. Line bottoms with wax paper cut to fit, grease paper, then dust entire inside of pan lightly with flour, knocking out any excess. Set aside. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, combine buttermilk and butter pats. Set over low heat; stir often just until butter is melted. Remove from heat; set aside to cool until just warm.

Meanwhile, into large bowl sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With whisk or large spoon, mix well until of an even color. When buttermilk mixture is warm, add beaten eggs and vanilla; with fork, beat in to mix well. Add all at once to dry ingredients. With whisk or hand-held electric mixer, stir until dry ingredients are moistened, then beat just until batter is well-combined (a few small lumps may remain--OK). Divide batter, which will be thin, evenly among prepared pans. Run batter up sides of pans slightly by tilting pans in a circular motion. Drop each pan three times onto a flat surface from a height of about 3" to distribute air bubbles in batter.

Bake in preheated oven 30-35 minutes, reversing pans back-to-front and exhanging oven positions about halfway through baking time. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Remove to cooling rack. Let layers stand 10-15 minutes.

Gently loosen cakes from sides of pans. Invert onto cooling racks; remove pans and gently peel wax paper from bottoms of layers. Re-invert to cool completely, right side up, before frosting.

To assemble:

If necessary, trim tops of cooled layers so they are level. Place one layer upside down on serving plate. Top with half of the chilled, thickened frosting. Spread frosting almost, but not quite, to edges of layer. Top with second layer, right side up. Press cake together gently to force frosting to edge of first layer. Top second layer with remaining frosting and spread evenly over top. Serve immediately or chill until needed; refrigerate any leftovers.

To cut this cake, you'll need a large, sharp, heavy knife. I use a knife with a serrated edge, though I know people who use a straight-edged knife here; try both and see which you prefer. You'll also need something to drink when you eat this--a glass of milk or a cup of coffee are fine accompaniments.

Cake, Cook, Butter, make a cake without the cake mix, Baking and Confections, German Chocolate Cake, Home

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