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Thursday, May 19, 2022

DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE: History, Info, & Recipes for Devil's Food Cake Day!

Because today is National Devil's Food Cake Day, I thought I'd revisit the question: What's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake? It's a good question, and as with so many questions, there are many different answers. Some recipes for Devil's Food Cake use cocoa, some melted chocolate, some add coffee or hot liquid, and some increase the baking soda. So for National Devil's Food Cake Day, here are some answers.

According to Wikipedia:

Because of differing recipes and changing ingredient availability over the course of the twentieth century, it is difficult to precisely qualify what distinguishes Devil's food from the more standard chocolate cake. The traditional Devil's food cake is made with shredded beets much the way a carrot cake is made with carrots. The beets add moisture and sweetness to the cake, helping it to be very rich. The red of the beets slightly colors the cake red and due to the richness of the cake it became known as the Devil's food. 

O.k. That's a beet cake or a 'natural' red velvet cake, and I make a good one, but it's not a Devil's Food Cake in my opinion.  

Devil's food cake is generally more moist and airy than other chocolate cakes, and often uses cocoa as opposed to chocolate for the flavor as well as coffee. The lack of melted chocolate and the addition of coffee is typically what distinguishes a Devil's food cake from a chocolate cake, though some recipes call for all, resulting in an even richer chocolate flavor. The use of hot, or boiling water as the cake's main liquid, rather than milk, is also a common difference. 

Devil's food cake is sometimes distinguished from other chocolate cakes by the use of additional baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which raises the pH level and makes the cake a deeper and darker mahogany color. Devil's food cake incorporates butter (or a substitute), egg whites, flour (while some chocolate cakes are flourless) and less egg than other chocolate cakes. Devil's food cake was introduced in the United States in the early 20th century with the recipe in print as early as 1905. 

A similar cake, the red velvet cake, is closely linked to a Devil's food cake, and in some turn of the century cookbooks the two names may have been interchangeable. Most red velvet cakes today use red food coloring, but even without it, the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. When used in cakes, acid causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, and before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and a long list of similar names for chocolate cakes.

I'm partial to Devil's Food Cake.

Here are several mid-century recipes. Sorry about the light print on the first cookbook.

I've posted many Devil's Food Cake recipes in the past, but today I have four mid-century recipes.

The first recipe is for Cocoa Devil's Food Cake from How To Get the Most Out of Your Sunbeam Mixmaster (1950). I posted a "Mix-Easy" Devil's Food Cake for Mother's Day a few years ago, and you might want to look at that one, too. It's pretty much the same as the following recipe. The following page in the Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook pamphlet is great for today's post since there's a Chocolate Cake recipe next to the Devil's Food Cake recipe.


This same cookbook has a recipe for Black Devil's Food Cake, so now we have Cocoa Devil's Food Cake, Black Devil's Food Cake, and a Red Devil's Food Cake. As you see, the following Black Devil's Food cake is made with cocoa and with the addition of strong hot coffee or boiling water.


The Red Devil's Food Cake is a variation on the Chocolate Fudge Cake on the same page, and to save space, they didn't reprint the entire recipe! It's a very small pamphlet. The baking soda is increased, but otherwise it's the same cake. This recipe is from the Recipes for your Hamilton Beach Mixer-17 Delicious New Cakes (1947). Don't you just love that someone wrote good next to the recipe? It's the same recipe I posted (but from a different pamphlet) on Devil's Food Cake Day for Mother's Day. 


And one more Red Devil's Food Cake from the same mid-century period. This one is from Kate Smith Chooses her 55 Favorite Ann Pillsbury CAKE RECIPES.


Enough Devil's Food Cake recipes? Never! Have a look at Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake from Capitol Hill Cooks: Recipes from the White House by Linda Bauer. It's a great Buttermilk Devil's Food Cake!

So what's the difference between Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Cake? You decide.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUP CHEESECAKE: I Love Reese's Day!

Don't you just love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? Here's a great Retro 1950s Ad for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for I Love Reese's Day

And here's a bit of history about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from The Nibble Harry Burnett Reese, a former dairy employee of Milton S. Hershey, was so inspired by Mr. Hershey that he left to start his own candy business. The H.B. Reese Candy Company had some success with Johnny Bars and Lizzie Bars (caramel-like molasses and coconut candy) and also had its share of adversity. 

By the mid-1920s, it was manufacturing a product made with specially-processed peanut butter and chocolate from the local Hershey Chocolate Company. Introduced simply as peanut butter cups, as its popularity grew the candy became known as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Fast-forward to 1963: Reese returns to Hershey’s when The H.B. Reese Candy Company, Inc. was sold for $23.5 million to the Hershey Chocolate Company (then known as Hershey Foods Corporation).

So for today's recipe for I Love Reese's Day is a recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake from  Peggy Lynn  (March 31, 2005) on Food.com This recipe was originally based on one from the Ruggles Grill in Houston. You will need to cook this cheesecake a bit longer than the original recipe directions (I've made the change for you in the directions). Make sure the cheesecake is cooked through. I also use fewer oreos in the crust or you'll have a lot left over. Adding the peanuts to the crust is a fabulous addition, too! I often leave off the sour cream topping, but I'm including it in the recipe below, in case you want to try! You could always add a chocolate ganache as a topping. Just a thought.

Decorating the top of the cheesecake: I'm a purist, but you can add pieces of Reese's on the top or drizzle with chocolate or sprinkle with peanuts... whatever!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Ingredients

For the Crust
4 cups crushed Oreos
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling
2 lbs cream cheese, softened
5 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, broken into pieces (maybe 4 per piece/your preference?)

(Optional) For the Topping
3 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup sugar

Plan ahead--cheesecake needs to chill for at least 4 hours. 

To Make the Crust
Combine crushed Oreo cookies and peanuts that have been ground in a food processor with the melted butter.
Pat the crust mixture onto bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

To Make the Filling
Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth.
Stir in vanilla, then fold in peanut butter cup pieces with a rubber spatula.
Pour filling into prepared crust.
Place springform pan into a larger baking pan.
Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake at 275°F almost 2 hours (check at 1 hour 45--keep checking if not done in 2 hours), or until firm (but slightly springy--it will firm up a bit as it cools) and lightly browned.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour.
You may run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

(Optional) For the Topping
Combine the sour cream and sugar and spread on the cheesecake.
Return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE with SWEET WALNUT LAYER: National Walnut Day

Today is National Walnut Day, and you can't go wrong with this versatile nut! Here walnuts are used as the sweet layer in this Chocolate Bundt Cake. I first saw this recipe on Fine Cooking. I made a few changes, but the essence is there. I'm sure you'll make a few changes, too. The original recipe called for plain yogurt. I've made this bundt cake with Greek yogurt...a little tangy, but very tasty, but actually I prefer sour cream for richness. Try it both ways and see what you think!

Chocolate Bundt Cake with  Sweet Walnut Layer

Ingredients

Cake
1 1/4 cups all purpose four
3/4 cup dark cocoa
Dash of Salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
3 ounces of dark chocolate (70-85% cacao) I like it really dark
1 Tbsp powdered sugar-optional

Walnut Layer
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
Oil bundt pan.
Whisk in bowl flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and soda. Then sift into another bowl.
In a different bowl, whisk melted butter and oil, and then add eggs and egg whites. Fold in sour cream, vanilla extract, and sugar.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or saucepan over saucepan over simmering water.
Fold chocolate into batter.
Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Do not overmix.
Mix melted butter, walnuts, and brown sugar together.
Pour half batter into pan and place walnut layer on top of batter.
Fill with remaining batter.
Bake 35-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack in pan for 15 minutes and then, flip over on rack.
Top with powder sugar (optional)

Monday, May 16, 2022

CHOCOLATE WACKY CAKE aka CHOCOLATE VINEGAR CAKE aka CRAZY CAKE aka Depression Cake

This moist Chocolate Vinegar Cake is simple to make and perfect for these crazy, wacky, depressing times. It is also known as Depression Cake, Crazy Cake, and Wacky Cake.

During the Depression and WWII there was a shortage of eggs and butter and milk, so this cake found its way into the ovens and hearts of many. Elevate it for 2022 with chocolate butter cream frosting or whipped cream and strawberries. But this cake doesn't really need it. It's delicious the way it is! It's great to make for a potluck or for a last minute dessert.

CHOCOLATE VINEGAR CAKE aka Wacky Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour 
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
2 Tbsp vinegar  (I like Cider Vinegar, but white distilled is fine, too)
2 tsp pure vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil (try sunflower oil, if you have it, but any will do)
2 cups cold water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 13 x 9 baking pan.
Sift dry ingredients into large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix with large spoon until smooth.
Pour into prepared greased and floured pan.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Optional: It doesn't need it, but you can sprinkle this cake with powdered sugar, frost with ganache or buttercream, or top with whipped cream and strawberries!