Style Gourmet

The joy of really knowing what you're cooking about.

Culinary Reviews Home
Style Gourmet Home
Contact Elliot Essman


Culinary Reviews RSS News Feed

Sweet Chic
by Rachel Schifter Thebault

Reviewed by Elliot Essman

My own degree is in baking and pastry, so I inevitably take notice when a luscious book on the subject comes my way. Rachel Schifter Thebault, author of Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion, is the founder of Tribeca Treats, in my home city of New York (although I no longer live there). I will have to bake some of these delectable items myself, adjusting of course to the fact that I now live a mile high (and it is awfully dry here in New Mexico). All that said, I curled up with the book in bed last night, and I am still making up for the lack of sleep. (Beyond a certain point of experience and knowledge, baking during dreams is possible and it is just as fattening).

You might live in more pastry-friendly territory, so here is a recipe from Sweet Chic book to entice you:

Devil's Food Cake By Rachel Thebault

MAKES ONE 3-LAYER 8-INCH CAKE, ONE 2-LAYER 9-INCH CAKE, OR ABOUT 3 DOZEN CUPCAKES

The base recipe for our chocolate cake is the easiest cake recipe I know. It's an oil-based (as opposed to butter-based) recipe, so, just like boxed cake mixes, it can be mixed by hand in one bowl. For that reason, it is a favorite of mine to make at a vacation home or anywhere that I'm not sure about what mixers or baking equipment will be available. Once baked, this batter results in an airy, spongy cake with a rich chocolate flavor. It tends to rise a lot in the oven, especially in the center, so the cake layers will always have to be trimmed to make the layers flat before they are iced. Accordingly, be careful not to overfill the cake pans or cupcake wrappers.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/3 cups vegetable or canola oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with butter or nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (Alternatively, you can use two 9-inch round pans, or prepare cupcake pans or other cake pans as directed.)

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Whip the sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until all the ingredients have blended together, about 30 seconds. (If a standing mixer is not available, the batter can be whisked by hand in a large mixing bowl for about 1 minute.)

4. Add approximately half the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure that the flour is fully incorporated.

5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. The batter should come one-third or one-half the way up the sides of the pans.

6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through.

7. When the centers of the cakes spring back to the touch, remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in their pans. (You can also test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or fork into the center of the cake and checking that it comes out clean.) Run an offset spatula or dull knife between the sides of the cakes and the pans and transfer the cakes right side up to a wire rack to bring them to room temperature.

8. Once the cakes are at room temperature, ice as desired (see Icing a Cake, page 14). Uniced cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days before icing and serving, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. (Trim the layers flat before freezing them. Once frozen, the layers need to sit at room temperature for only 15 minutes before you start icing them, but allow 2 hours at room temperature for the cake to thaw fully before serving it.)

Copyright © Rachel Thebault, author of Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion

Top -- Culinary Reviews Home

- Style Gourmet -

Culinary Reviews Home -- Style Gourmet Home
Contact Elliot Essman and Style Gourmet

Copyright © Elliot Essman 2011
This page is www.stylegourmet.com/reviews/031.htm
Top of this page.