May 31, 2007 marked “599 days to go” for the Bush Presidency. In the spirit of an administration that has always ignored generic wisdom, conventional wisdom and facts-in-evidence, I created the “599 Day Cake.” The base, of course, is the well-known and loved Texas Sheet Cake.
For busy people with reasonably well-stocked pantries, it is quick, easy and low-tech, using a bowl, a wooden spoon, one small saucepan and a 9”x13” baking pan. It appears in hundreds of cookbooks, from community cookbooks to books by Famous Authors, and a quick Google search will uncover hundreds of versions.
But it is the "frosting" which embodied the purest Bush Administration spirit. Instead of using any of the time-honored methods of covering a chocolate cake, I chopped 8 ounces of very good dark chocolate in a mini-chopper with some cream. The theory – completely contrary to the laws of both Pastry and Physics – was that the heat of the chopper would create ganache, that most wondrous of all combinations of chocolate and cream. This method most certainly did not create ganache. The chocolate was barely chopped and the cream was curdled. Disgusting.
Continuing in the spirit of the Fact-Free Bush Administration, I posited that slathering the curdled chocolate onto the hot-out-of-the-oven cake would create ganache. Not so – again, the laws of Pastry and Physics won out. The chocolate mixture did, indeed, melt, but hardened into a something that looked like curdled granite. Looked weird; tasted good.
TEXAS SHEET CAKE (Adapted from The Dallas Junior League Cookbook, 1976, p. 332)
1 stick butter
4 T Dutch process cocoa (Penzeys is awfully good)
¼ cup of shortening
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup buttermilk *
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13” pan.
2. Using a small saucepan, mix the butter, cocoa, shortening and water. Bring to a boil.
3. Whisk the flour and sugar soda in a large bowl. Add the butter mixture and mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Pour the batter into the greased and floured pan. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. The cake is done when a tester comes out clean.
*Buttermilk note: I use SACO powdered buttermilk blend and whisk it with the dry ingredients. I then mix 1/2 cup of water with the eggs.
Topping for the “599 Day Cake”
Chop 8 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate in a mini chopper. Add 3 ounces of heavy cream and buzz until you have a curdled mess that stops the blades.
Spread this mixture on top of your cake when it comes out of the oven. The chocolate will melt and the top of your cake will look like curdled granite. Let the cake cool.