Faded, tattered, stained , this recipe from my now extremely dog-eared An American Cook in Turkey has been a true faithful in terms of my cake repertoire. The book itself was given to me in my first year of marriage when there I was stranded in Ankara in the ‘70s where nothing but the most basic of basics existed. It was a lifesaver: it referred back to a life we gelins had left, to food that was familiar to us, and explained how to replicate it in a country that was different in so many ways. It also introduced in manageable terms all the new dishes that we were trying to embrace. This book was compiled by what I can only think of as a most intrepid bunch of American women and first published in the early ‘60s! That’s fifty years ago! So thank you, Anne Glass, who first prepared it. Apparently she was a teacher of home economics at the Izmir American Collegiate Institute in the spring of 1961. More power to her and her team for it is such a treasure trove of information starting with ‘How to Cook a Husband’, taken from the foreword of a 19th century cookbook. I love the opening lines:
A good many husbands are utterly spoiled by mismanagement in cooking and so are not tender and good. Some women keep them constantly in hot water; others let them freeze by their carelessness and indifference. Some keep them in a stew with irritating ways and words. Some wives keep them pickled…It cannot be supposed that any good husband will be tender and good when so managed but they are really delicious when prepared properly.
And if he is prepared properly? ….he will serve a lifetime of Happiness.
What words of wisdom: that book had everything.
This Fudge Cake rapidly established itself as a firm family favourite especially for birthdays as there were no hard-to-find ingredients, the recipe always worked, and more to the point, everyone always loved it. After all, it is chocolate! It has metamorphosed into a caterpillar, a ninja castle, numbers of ever-advancing ages, husband’s 50th and with different decoration, graced so many of my teas. The recipe was contributed by someone called Barbara Fowler so Barbara, whoever you are, wherever you are, I salute you!
Preheat oven to 180C/350F
2 ¼ cups sifted plain flour
1 tsp baking soda/karbonat
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup shortening ( I use ½ packet butter), softened
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 well-beaten eggs
1 cup sour milk (do not use yogurt to replace. Instead use 2 tbsp vinegar with regular milk)
½ cup cocoa
§ Grease and flour your cake tin. I use a round 21 cm tube pan but actually the recipe says 2 layer cake pans. Size is not specified but I expect 20 cm is fine. Or a 20 cm ring pan or deep 20 cm round cake pan.
§ Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and soda.
§ In a separate large bowl, cream butter and add sugar gradually, beating thoroughly after each addition.
§ Add vanilla and eggs. Beat until fluffy.
§ Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour milk.
§ Mix cocoa with 1/3 cup hot water to form a smooth paste; cool slightly before beating into batter.
§ Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 mins. If using 2 layer pans, reduce time to 30 – 35 mins. The cake is done when well-risen and springy to the touch.
When you take the cake out of the oven, upturn onto a cake rack. Immediately place squares of bitter chocolate all round the top. These will melt and can then be spread over the surface with a knife. Decorate as wished with whole nuts, chopped nuts, glace cherries, smarties, or other cake decorations.
v This cake goes very well with vanilla ice cream!
v The round shape with the hole in the middle looks good and does away with the necessity for a layer of fudge icing or other filling between layers. The icing above works well, especially with children, as it is so much lighter than a more traditional fudge or butter icing.
My copy of An American Cook in Turkey is so battered that I am about to have it rebound before it completely collapses!
|Testimony of a well-loved recipe|