Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet Dreams

I apologize to my gentle readers for not posting much in the past few weeks. I recently finished a round of grant applications that took a lot of my time. This was one of them:

And this is what my study looked like after the applications were submitted:

Now, back to the blog. Some of my readers have requested that I post more about my baking, so this one's for you. I had to take dessert to a dinner a week or so ago, but I didn't have a lot of time to make it and I didn't have time to go to the store, so I decided to make Mother of Ken's Texas Brownie. There are lots of versions of this out there with slight variations and different names (my favorite: Texas Sheet Cake Massacre), but this is the one that my family uses. Those of you who know me well know that I don't care much for cake (I usually have birthday pie or birthday cheesecake), but this is one of the few that I do like.

It starts with a combination of 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar in a mixing bowl:

Then I whisk it to be sure that there aren't any lumps. To me, whisking the ingredients is easier than sifting--I haven't sifted since middle school home ec class and if that makes me a bad little baker, that's fine with me. I haven't heard any complaints about my baked goods, so I'm not worried.

The next step is to gather the ingredients for the chocolate part of the cake. Here I have 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup of shortening, 1 cup of strong coffee, and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder.

Put all of these ingredients in a heavy saucepan:

Slowly bring it to a boil, stirring often:

Once the chocolate mixture comes to a rolling boil, add it to the dry ingredients:

The next few ingredients to go in are 1/2 cup of buttermilk (if you don't have any, which I usually don't, you can substitute 1/2 cup of milk with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice added), two eggs, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

After mixing the chocolate mixture and the dry ingredients until they are just blended, add the buttermilk:

Then the baking soda:

Followed by the eggs:

And finally, the vanilla:

Once everything is mixed well, pour the batter into a greased 17 1/2 x 11" pan.

The cake bakes at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. While it is in the oven, it's time to make the frosting. The ingredients are: 1 stick of butter, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/4 cup of milk, 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Combine the butter, cocoa, and milk in a heavy saucepan and heat it slowly until it comes to a boil, stirring often.

Add the powdered sugar:

And the vanilla:

Whisk the frosting until it is smooth.

Here's what the "brownie" looks like when it comes out of the oven:

While it is still warm, pour the frosting over the brownie and spread it evenly.

Some of the frosting may drip over the side of the pan. You can cut the brownie once it has completely cooled and you may want to dip your knife in water to make cleaner cuts.

Since I'm sure you were wondering, here are some of the other things I made and ate last week.

Chicken poached in clementine juice with wild rice, roasted broccoli, cranberry sauce, and olives:

And an individual meatloaf with roasted butternut squash and cracked potatoes:


M said...

Middle school home ec? Was this with Kaiser? Did we take this class together? I remember an atrocious pillow t-shirt shaped pillow I made. Maybe I should have done some work today....

Ken said...

Yeah, I had one of those t-shirt pillows, too. Mine was peach and white striped. I remember her making us sift and remeasure everything after we sifted it and I thought that there had to be a better way to do things. That class was bad--especially the living skills section they used the book from the 70s to show you how to keep a proper home or whatever...

Leah said...

Great, now I'm hungry. Thanks.
Also, I agree about sifting. Sifting is dumb. I have never sifted a day in my life and have also never received a single complaint. (Although if someone said, "wow, these brownies are good, but I bet they'd be better if you had sifted the flour!" I'd deck them.)