A secret of mine, one that Mr. playfully teases me about is that I would dearly love to take part in a pie baking contest. I love recipe swaps and sharing food with others which is largely the motivation behind this blog, the online food community is like a large recipe swap reminiscent of county fairs with shiny blue ribbons, freshly baked pastries and steaming pots of chili. Instead of plank board tables covered in an array of delectables it is our computer screens and the friends peering at our dishes live up to thousands of kilometres away. I am delighted to be a part of a recipe swap, started by Christianna of Burwick General Store. Each month a new recipe from her thrift-store find All Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground unites us in inspiration.
This month when the “Busy Day” Wacky Cake made its appearance in my inbox I was intrigued. The original recipe is a basic chocolate cake and the wacky element comes from the mix of baking soda and vinegar which provided a fun at home science experiment for Jennifer at Adventuresome Kitchen. Toni at Boulder Locavore was incredibly secretive about her Gluten-free Volcano Cake which has me incredibly excited and imagining all sorts of exciting things but I know my imaginings will pale in comparison because really, have you seen her blog?
As I ventured into the kitchen, weighted down by an overflowing bowl of blood oranges and a jar of sour cherries in the pantry taunting me I was muddled and a little reticent in my baking hand. There were so many flavours at my disposal and to decide between them all was a challenge. Miss N was pushing for chocolate but Mr. was scowling and Bubs’ only concern was that I didn’t add any frosting. If the child wasn’t an exact twin to 3 year old Mr. we would have cause for concern since the child has no love for icing or potato wedges in direct defiance of my sweet tooth and Mr.’s salty tooth (is that even a thing?).
I dream of making beautiful, round layer cakes with ribbons of delicate icing between each layer and a thick, smooth surface on the outside to hide its inner beauty. Alas, I do not have a round cake pan. My kitchen gadgets are a motley crew, gathered over time and space through need or love and in all that time, a set of perfectly round cake pans have never made their way here. I’d like to imagine that a quivering dessert spoon or scrappy can o’ beans will find their way into my kitchen and set forth to convince a cake pan with a speckled past to join us. (If you haven’t a clue what I’m rambling on about, check out Skinny Legs and All.)
I do have a square cake pan but my love affair with its equal sides is over. I could trim and fuss but the majority of my baking is done with two little people both of whom have neither the patience or the will to watch me hack at their cake. For this reason, the majority of our cake-like baking is in the form of cupcakes. They are cute and a snap for Miss N to transport to school. In keeping the spirit of the “wacky cake” I did prepare the cake batter in one bowl and then spooned it into the cupcake tin. I added a significant amount of cocoa to the batter which gave it an overall fudgey texture and so to compensate for the weight of it I left only a half centimetre of space from the top on each which allowed the cupcakes to rise but not spill over.
The Wacky Blood Orange and Cocoa Cupcakes
2 ½ cups flour
6 tbsp cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup cold water
juice of 2 blood oranges
2 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp neutral tasting oil
- Whisk dry ingredients in a wide bowl and make a well in the centre for the wet ingredients.
- In a large measuring cup whisk the blood orange juice, vanilla and oil. Pour into the well in the centre of the flour mix. Whisk, slowly adding the cold water until smooth.
- Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.
The Sour Cherry Glaze
4 tbsp juice from jarred sour cherries
1 1/3 cup icing sugar
- Mix on high speed until smooth.
- Top the cooled cupcakes with the glaze.
The glaze will mostly sink into the Cocoa Blood Orange cupcakes which will give them a beautiful and smooth crust, to keep them from looking less than appetizing (see the ring of pink around the edge? Use your imagination) dust with icing sugar prior to icing. The cupcakes are not overly sweet because of cocoa and blood orange so this extra dusting of sweetness is perfect. Enjoy.
P.s. Be sure to visit the other swappers, they are a lovely and creative bunch. There are quite a few of us so be sure to stop by Christianna’s page dedicated to the recipe swap as a jumping off point.