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Yid.Dish: Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Yesterday, I had brunch at my friend’s apartment. It was a steamy Sunday morning – the kind where it could rain any second and your hair (or at least my hair) becomes simultaneously flat, frizzy, and full of weirdly-placed curls. French toast and eggs seemed too heavy for such a morning. But luckily, at some point in the last couple of months, my friend drank the raw foodism Kool Aid – and so had a lovely spread of light, heat-free vegetable dishes including one she called “mock eggs Florentine” (thick-cut tomatoes, sea salt and guacamole), fresh orange juice and a cucumber, lemon, and lime-aid and “strawberries and cream” (soaked cashews whipped in a food processor with agave syrup and vanilla).

During our meal, I felt virtuous and close to the Rambam’s advice: “In summer, one should eat cold foods without excessive amounts of spices…” (Mishna Torah). But as tasty and cooling as our breakfast was, my body is not accustomed to such carb and dairy-less fare. So while my friend felt totally satiated, by about 2pm it was still hot and I had a screaming headache. In an attempt to regain culinary balance after my morning of detoxing, I baked a chocolate buttermilk cake – decadent, sweet, and hot from a steaming oven. As they say, everything in moderation – even vegetables.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

From Didi Emmons’ Entertaining for a Veggie Planet (get a copy here.) Serves 10

For the Cake:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup good-quality cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

pinch of salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups buttermilk

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave (1 minute, stir and repeat). Or melt it in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 or 10 inch cake pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and pour in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake with a knife and invert onto a serving plate.

For the Frosting:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

about 1/3 cup sour cream

*the recipe calls for 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, but I decided to keep the frosting white, for a nice contrast

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave (1 minute, stir and repeat). Or melt it in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffly, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla, then gradually blend in the sugar, beating well. Add the cooled chocolate, and when it is incorporated, add enough sour cream to give the frosting a good spreading consistency.

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