Monday, August 06, 2007

DIY birthday

I ended up having a delightfully low-key birthday.

DH bought me some beautiful roses -- this one bloomed in a matter of hours. It's good I took this shot because later the cats started snacking on the whole affair, and now they're all a bit raggedy looking as a result.

The family seemed a bit distraught that I wasn't going to have much of a birthday dinner or a "something we can stick a candle in, so we can sing you Happy Birthday," so I picked up some nice strip steaks for dinner, and pan fried them while the cake baked: I made the LID-friendly "mix-in-the-pan" chocolate cake from my favorite, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book.

One candle sufficed:

This cake is 1) delicious 2) incredibly quick to put together and 3) compatible with the Low Iodine Diet. Here's the recipe:

Mix-in-the-Pan Chocolate Cake
one 8-inch square cake -- from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

1+1/2 C all purpose flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 T white or cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 C water

for topping
Confectioner's sugar

Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, or cheat and line it with foil, and then spray it with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and then sift them into the pan. Spread the mixture out so it is more or less even in the pan, then make three small wells in the dry mixture. Pour the vinegar, vanilla, and oil into the wells, one each; pour the water over all. Using a fork, mix thoroughly so that only small lumps remain. Be sure to scrape up the dry mixture from the bottom and corners of the pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Dust with Confectioner's sugar before serving.

We got 9 generous servings, and the only reason why it lasted until Sunday was because we forcibly restrained ourselves from polishing it off on Saturday.

I made this cake exactly according to the (high carb) recipe, and it was very interesting to see the texture, which was very good, but altogether different from a more traditional cake with eggs. At the same time, this was definitely a cake and not brownies, not even cake-like brownies. In any event, I think it can be ported over to the low carb world very easily, but it may take some extra tweaking. Any recipe with an entire cup of sugar for such a relatively small cake is relying on that sugar for structure as well as taste. I could easily boost the cocoa powder and add almond flour, use erythritol instead of sugar, bump up the baking soda... hmmm.

Almost forgot: ended the day watching 300, and am only half embarrassed to admit that I dozed off repeatedly. It was gorgeous, but, on the small screen and without an audience, sadly tedious -- the book's better. It was interesting seeing this after finally finishing Victor Davis Hanson's extraordinary A War Like No Other, about the Peloponnesion War, knowing that not long after Sparta's glorious stand at the Hot Gates, all of Greece would be embroiled in a mess of a war that stretched on for nearly 30 years.

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