January 05, 2007

Poetry Friday: Happy Winter Fudge Cake

While editing my last comment on the previous post for too many italics (I forgot to turn them off), I discovered Elizabeth's comment yesterday in last month's Solstice post, asking for the Happy Winter Fudge Cake recipe mentioned. I'm happy to oblige, especially because it includes a bit of poetry.

(PS If you you ever have a question, please just email me offblog at the address to the left under the meadowlark; Blogger doesn't notify me about new comments, so if I haven't checked on an old post, which I rarely do, or tried to fix one of my mistakes at Haloscan -- which is what I did last night -- chances are any questions will languish.)

Here's the passage about the cake (you have to imagine tiny pictures of butter, sugar, mixing bowl, beaters, etc. printed right after each line, just as it's done in the book) from Karen Gundersheimer's Happy Winter, followed by the recipe on the facing page:
"Happy Winter, time to bake
Some really yummy kind of cake.
So Mama flips through recipes
Just like she does for company
And reads them all -- her favorite ones
Are Sunshine, Marble, Angel, Crumb.
But we pick Fudge, and no nuts, please --
Now tie on aprons, roll up sleeves.

The butter, sugar, eggs go in
A mixing bowl, then beaters spin
To stir up yogurt, thick and sour,
With baking chocolate, salt and flour.
The batter's made, the oven's set,
The cake's popped in, and then we get
To scrape the bowl and beaters, too --
Last licks for me and slurps for you.
The timer pings! The cake is done --
Let's slice it up and all have some."
Happy Winter Fudge Cake

Please ask a grown-up to help you make this yummy cake.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Grease tube pan (9-1/2" x 3")
3. Cut up 3 squares semisweet baking chocolate. Melt over very low heat or in double boiler. DO NOT BURN. Set aside to cool. [I use the microwave; follow directions on the Baker's chocolate box.]
4. Get a medium-sized bowl and mix dry ingredients (with wooden spoon):
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
5. Get a big bowl and mix wet ingredients (with electric mixer):
2 eggs
1/4 cup soft butter or margarine, cut into small bits [please, please, choose the butter]
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups plain yogurt
Cooled melted chocolate (from step 3 above)
6. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring with spoon to blend.
7. Add 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir them all in.
8. Pour batter into greased pan and place in preheated oven (350 F)
9. Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cake may need another 5 minutes.
10. Let cool 30 minutes before turning out onto plate.
11. Slice it up and enjoy.
I bought the late, great Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking shortly after it was published in 1993, and ran across Happy Winter at one of our library's semiannual sales about five years later, shortly after Laura was born. It became an instant favorite for each of us, probably more for me since she was so young and I found something terribly sweet and nostalgic about the book. Since I reread Colwin's cooking books every year, it didn't take too long to twig to the fact that, omigosh, we have a copy of Happy Winter. As happy as I was to own what Laurie Colwin calls the "small, charming volume", mostly I'm delighted to have one small link to her life and an even smaller way of keeping her alive. Here's what Laurie Colwin had to say about the book and recipe,
You never know where you will find a recipe. They are often hidden in unexpected places. I did not anticipate finding a chocolate cake in a children's book, but in a small, charming volume titled Happy Winter, written and illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer, I did. This book, which was one of my daughter's early favorites, tells a story in rhyme about two sisters on a snowy day. when they have finished playing dress-up and going outside to make snow angels, they come indoors to help their mother make a fudge cake. The recipe is given in rhyme and then written out on the facing page. It is easy, wholesome, and delicious and has now become my daughter's standard birthday cake.

[Recipe]

I make this cake in a springform tube pan with a scalloped bottom, and so it has a lovely scalloped top when it is is turned out. If you own one of those fancy cake-decorating kits that come with a pastry nail and dozens of tubes you will never use because you can't figure out what they do, for this occasion you might produce some passable-looking roses and scatter them among the scallops, connecting them with green leaves. (Leaves are easy compared to roses.) The result is eccentric looking in a sort of demented Victorian way, but this cake is a hit with children who do not mind an uniced cake if it has tons of sugar roses. (A good rule for any birthday party is: a rose for every child.)
Really, what more could you ask for on a snowy winter day than a bit of Laurie Colwin, some Karen Gundersheimer, and fudge cake? Happy Winter, Elizabeth!

PPS Elizabeth, Happy Winter is sadly out of print. If you check Abebooks, you can find the original 1982 hardcover edition as well as the 1987 paperback reprint around $10 including shipping. Much as I prefer butter to margarine, I say go for the hardcover, which is just plain nicer and lies flat for following the recipe.

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First round-up of the year, courtesy of Elaine, is chez Blue Rose Girls. Thanks, Elaine!

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