By Kevin Williams
Those of you on my daily e-newsletter list know that yesterday was a bit of a crazy day. This website crashed, my wife was at work, I had some Amish365 projects to juggle along with a restless 3 ½-year-old and 7 month old. As things settled down a bit in the afternoon, Aster suggested we bake a cake, inspired by a colorful jar of sprinkles that was sitting on the kitchen counter. "Let's bake a cake and put sprinkles on it!", not sure entirely whether she was suggesting or commanding. Either way, it sounded like a good idea to me. Maybe. Trying to keep 7-month-old Bea entertained while Aster and I are baking is always a bit of a dice roll. But I put her in the high chair so she could watch Aster and I do our thing and she seemed to enjoy watching. I kept telling Aster that first we had to find a recipe, that a cake just doesn't come out of thin air. So I flipped through my Amish recipe books and ended up nixing most of them because we didn't have this or that ingredient. Finally, in my superb Apple Pie and Apron Strings Amish Cookbook (a collection Amish recipes culled from families across the USA and Canada) I found a recipe for a "Quick Cocoa Cake" and, score, we had all the ingredients! The recipe comes from an Amish family in Illinois and with 1 1 /2 cups of butter in the cake, it looked like a moist, flavorful choice. And it's a classic "mix and stir" cake, which meant not too many steps for Aster (and me) to follow.
We also made a frosting, which quickly turned to a glaze once Aster pleaded with me to spread it directly on the hot out-of-the oven cake. She also came up with a suggestion: "let's put marshmallows in the frosting, mama loves marshmallows." Sure, why not? I thought. I tried microwaving the marshmallows because I thought, and still think, they'd have been a better addition as sort of a pureed mixture to the glaze. But I didn't microwave them long enough and with Bea running out of patience in the high chair, I just settled for mixing whole marshmallows into the glaze.
Then Aster, who really has an amazing grasp of a lot of things for a 3-year-old, asks me slyly: "are you going to put this on your website, Dada?" And, I said, "I think this cake looks beautiful, it'd be perfect for the website," I said, snapping a photo of her and the cake. And then she said "let's do a video!" Her first video was a 3-second "I baked a cake." Barely enough for a YouTube upload, so we did a "take two" and here is her message to you! (with Baby Bea chiming in at the end). By the way, the frosting-turned-glaze recipe that I used was a basic Betty Crocker recipe, with the addition of 1 cup of mini-marshmallows. On, and sprinkles, plenty of sprinkles as to be put on the cake. That was the most fun part for Aster (and me). I will say that this chocolate cake recipe is REALLY good, definitely a keep, very flavorful, makes a very thick cake. You could easily make this into a layer cake by using round cake pans instead of one large baking dish. I called this Aster's "celebration cake" because it came out looking so festive!
- 1 1 /2 cups butter or margarine
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 6 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 /4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 3 /4 cups milk
- Blend the first 3 ingredients well.
- Sift flour.
- Add all of the rest of the ingredients to the butter mixture.
- Beat until smooth.
- Pour into greased cake pan.
- Bake at 350 until the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.