Friday, March 9, 2012

Kitchen Experiments

I cook what could probably be considered a medium amount--definitely way more than I did before having my daughter, but nowhere near as much as I used to before I went to college. I'm proficient enough--I can make food that I enjoy eating (and that my family seems to enjoy as well). When I was younger though, I think cooking was always something that I did because I needed to rather than because I enjoyed it. But baking on the other hand. Well, I used to really like to bake, which I think can be credited to my maternal grandmother, who was always willing to whip something up together and teach me how to make something new (and make it fun in the process).

These days I tend to only bake with specific purpose, and I'll admit that I go the lazy route more often than not. Rather than make things from scratch I'll go with the box of cake or muffin mix, or buy the break apart ready-to-bake cookies from the freezer section. But every once in a while I find a recipe that sparks that old joy of baking and I have to try it out.

Recently a cousin of mine pointed me in the direction of the blog One Sheepish Girl, because the blogger is a knitter (and crochets as well) and is actually local to my area. My cousin thought I'd get a kick out of it, and she was quite right. I have been enjoying the blog quite a bit since I started following it. This past weekend, One Sheepish Girl posted a quick roundup blog of "ladylike" things, and included a picture and link of an Earl Grey Chocolate cake by Shutterbean. Given my love of tea, this piqued my interest and I clicked over the Shutterbean's entry on the cake, delighted to discover many pictures and a recipe!

I immediately started trying to come up with an excuse to make the cake--I already had most of the required ingredients on hand and could pick up the rest during my weekly trip to the grocery store. Still, the cake serves ten, and given that it has to be cooked in a specific pan, I did not feel at all confident about trying to halve the recipe or anything similar. The problem being that I can't eat that much cake, I am definitely not going to let my daughter eat that much cake, and my husband probably shouldn't eat that much cake. Normally I would send this kind of thing on up to my husband's office for his co-workers to finish off (this is what usually happens to the extras when I am inspired to make cookies), but they are on a company-sponsored health kick right now and sending them chocolate cake that most of them couldn't eat just seems mean. My wonderful mother-in-law saved the day, however, by telling me that whatever we don't eat she will gladly take back with her after her visit today to share with the rest of my husband's family over in Mineral Wells. Huzzah!

So armed with a valid excuse to bake away, I added the necessary ingredients to my grocery list and then yesterday I gathered everything up and went to work.

Adding the melted chocolate to the sugar/butter/eggs mixture. I just thought it looked really cool.

Chocolate all blended in, starting to look a bit more like batter!

My giant tub of plain yogurt--even though I only needed four ounces for the recipe. This was the smallest I could find, yeesh.

The eponymous earl grey tea. I used Teavana's Earl Grey Creme. Yummy.

Rest of the ingredients added, almost time to pour in the pan (took a spoon to the edges first to catch up the rest of the dry ingredients that the mixer couldn't grab).

My "helper" would rather help herself to the camera...

Still, she was very interested in the proceedings, at least whenever I turned the mixer on...

In the pan it goes! That I even own a bundt pan is also thanks to my awesome mother-in-law, now that I think about it.

Into the oven it goes!
Fresh out of the oven, mmm...cake...

Yay! It came out of the pan without falling apart! The last time I used this pan my cake was nowhere near as pretty...

Final touch: powdered sugar. I, um, might have used a touch too much...

...and, voila! Also, YUM.

Mmm, I am really happy with how this came out. After letting it cool and then slicing up what we would keep and what I would send with my mother-in-law, Baby Girl and I shared a few small slices. Yummy. She seemed to really like it too. I think the tea was very subtle, it gave it a bit of a peppery taste, actually. I mean that in the most fantastic way possible. Also, using the unsweetened chocolate kept this from being too rich. All in all, a perfect treat for tea time I'd say. Very easy to make, only took me about twenty minutes to get everything whipped up and cooking, and clean up wasn't too bad either. I will definitely be making this again. Maybe I'll try out a different kind of tea, too, perhaps some of Twinnings' Lady Grey, just to make sure I am giving all of my favorite teas a fair chance to be cake.

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