The Fiddlehead Cookbook which was a staple in most of the kitchens of my childhood. Unfortunately The Fiddlehead restaurant is no longer around- but this chocolate cake (and their French onion soup) were, to me, the two things that mattered the most. I had to dig around online to find this recipe, since I don't own the book (AHEM HINT HINT), but now that I have it I think that it needs to be shared. It doesn't look like anything all too special- but I have always thought of it as the most perfect chocolate cake that there could possibly be. And knowing that Alaskans have been making it for years should be assurance enough. Plus, hello- it's named after Douglas Island. You can't beat that.
North Douglas Chocolate Cake
1 cup water
1/4 pound butter
1/2 cup safflower or corn oil
3 1/2 tablespoons sifted Dutch process dark cocoa
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 pound plus 4 tablespoons butter
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sifted Dutch process dark cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375 F and arrange racks so they are evenly spaced in oven. Generously coat two 8- or 9-inch cake pans with butter and dust with flour.
Combine water, butter, oil and cocoa in a small pan and bring to a boil. While butter and water are reaching a boil, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
When butter and water are boiling, pour over sifted flour. Stir just until combined. Add egg mixture and gently fold together. Pour into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven when a probe inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to rest briefly in pans, and then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
To prepare icing: In a medium bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add confectioners sugar and cocoa and stir gently until they are partially combined. Stir in milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth and spreadable. It may be necessary to add additional sifted confectioners sugar if mixture seems too soft.
Assemble cake as usual. Decorate as you wish. Chill cake briefly to firm icing.
What are your childhood-era foods that still feel just as special now?