Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Curse of Friday the Thirteenth

My day started out pretty normal for a day off. My plan was to take it easy, make a cake and then head out to see a movie by 1pm. Then afterwards, I would go with my brother and his family to a “dinner party” with some old friends to see their new house. Seems simple enough, no?

Apparently not. After helping get the kids off to school, I threw on some clothes and my sister-in-law ran me up to the store for some key ingredients (eggs, butter, buttermilk). I returned home and got mixing. I sifted dry ingredients, creamed butter and sugar and, oh yeah, turned on the oven. I mixed wet with dry and alternated with the milk…easy pisy.

Then I realized the time (this cake cooks for almost 2 hours) and I quickly poured the batter into my Bundt pan. I turned to put it in the oven and realized that it was not to temperature yet. Odd, especially considering that I was baking at 300 degrees convection. Hmmmmm.

I opened the oven door and the oven was COLD! Completely devoid of any heat at all and here is this cake batter in the pan and no way to bake it. After 2 calls to KitchenAid and 6 calls to repairmen, I found a guy who would come out in the afternoon. Thank god. Oh well – no chance of seeing a movie today.

Next, I cleaned up from making the batter and realized I had never put in the tablespoon of vanilla extract – dammit! Quite the day I was having. Next thing I knew it was noon – the repairman said anytime between 12 and 2pm – so much for taking a shower. I sat any watched a DVD waiting for the doorbell to ring.

At 1:55pm, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to a very nice Russian with his bag of tools in hand. He came in, took the oven apart (did I mention this oven is only 5 months old?) and found that it needed a new thermostat. Great – so much for baking today. I walked him out with the promise of repair on Wednesday and checked next door – the neighbor was out…so much for stealing his oven for a couple of hours.

Now the stress kicks in. My Chocolate Pound Cake is doomed for the trash and I cannot stand it…all that work and nothing to take to our friends’ house for dessert. Then my sister-in-law has an epiphany…Marni! Our friend lives only 10 minutes away and she is at home with her two boys on Fridays. We give her a ring and she is game.

I run and jump in the shower, quickly get dressed and my sister-in-law comes through the door. She runs me to Marni’s house and I heat up her oven and pop my cake in. Will it work? This batter has been sitting now for like 6 hours and lord knows what will happen.

Well, the cake overflowed onto the pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, but luckily that was a very easy cleanup. The cake came out perfect looking, but who knows how it would taste.

Luckily, the cake was amazing. A quick glaze just before serving (with Vanilla ice cream, no less) and the cake is a huge success! Thank goodness – my day could not have gotten any worse, could it? I’m glad Friday the 13th doesn’t happen ever month!

Chocolate Pound Cake
Yields 16 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Special equipment: 10-cup bundt pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well after each addition.

Add flour and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until cake is done.

Remove from oven and allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 tablespoon honey

Put all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more. Remove from the microwave and whisk until fully combined, smooth and glossy. While warm, pour glaze over cooled cake and do not spread.