Wednesday, May 14, 2008

tiger cake: a shout out to my alma mater

The University of Missouri's College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) has a new alumni page on their website. This is relevant to Kenzie's Kitchen for two reasons - first, because I'm a CAFNR grad . . and well, I'm the author of this blog; and second, because the new page has links to alumni blogs, including mine! How cool is that? Of course, a tiger cake is only appropriate to celebrate the new alumni page.

Tiger Cake
From Alice Medrich's Bittersweet

1/2 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup flavorful extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
5 cold large eggs
1 cup cold milk

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 to 12-cup Bundt pan (or used two 6-cup loaf pans, lined with parchment).

In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa, sugar, and water together until well blended. Set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly and sift together onto a piece of wax paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl (with the whisk attachment if you have it), beat the sugar, oil, vanilla, and pepper until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the mixture is thick and pale, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and add one-third of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. Stop the mixer and add half of the milk. Beat just until it is blended. Repeat with another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour.

Pour 3 cups of the batter into another bowl and stir in the cocoa mixture. Pour one-third of the plain batter into the prepared tube pan (or divide it between the loaves) and top with one-third of the chocolate batter. Repeat with the remaining batters. Don't worry about marbling the batters-that happens beautifully during the baking.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for either the tube pan or loaf pans. Cool the cake in the pan(s) on a rack for about 15 minutes. Slide a skewer around the tube pan or slide a thin knife around the sides of the loaf pans to release the cake(s). Invert the pan(s) and invert again, setting the cake right side up on a rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Note: Natural cocoa powder is a must here. Dutch-process adds an unpleasant taste because it reacts with the leavening and the olive oil in the cake.
(Recipe from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich)

Fun facts:
1. Did you know that alma mater is Latin for "nourishing mother?" Hmm . . . Mizzou as a nourishing mother???

2. In modern language, alma mater is a term of academia, used in place of the college or university one graduates from. It is from the motto "Alma Mater Studiorum," from the oldest continually-operating, degree-granting university in Europe - the University of Bologna, in Italy. (How did we survive without Wikipedia?)

3. Dutch-process cocoa is alkalized, creating a milder flavor, but also destroying the flavonols (good-for-you antioxidants) in the process. Dutch-process cocoa is good for hot chocolate, but natural cocoa powder is typically better for baking because it retains more chocolate flavor and does not react with other ingredients.

4. I worked for the Mizzou Athletic Department while I was in college . . in the skyboxes at Faurot Field. This is where I learned to "plate" desserts using chocolate, caramel, and raspberry syrup . . . a skill I haven't used since. Bonus fun fact: Mr. Meat and Potatoes played football at Mizzou until he tore a ligament in his knee - ouch!

Go Tigers!

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