Mocha Cake with Sour Cherries

Mocha Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

Last time I gave you a super simple recipe.  Today I am posting my longest recipe yet!

When I think of birthdays, this cake immediately springs to mind. It is a birthday tradition in my father’s family. It is made every birthday,  whether the celebrant is present or not. Even though it might seem like a cake for grown-ups, I loved it as a kid and my 7 year old son loves it too!

Making this cake is a project:  It’s not difficult to make, but it does take planning and time. Refrigerated, it lasts well, so even if it isn’t possible to eat it all in one sitting, you can be sure of having a delicious treat for several days.

A word of warning, sometimes the pitted cherries aren’t all pitted, so you may get a pit in your bite of cake.  In our family we consider getting a pit a prize and an indication of good luck to come.

Mocha Cake

CakeMocha Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

3 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 c shortening

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

2 cups buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

Filling

1 1/2 pints whipping creamMocha Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

1/3 cup sugar

3 tbsps instant coffeeMocha Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vanilla

2 bottles sour cherries, drained (reserve the liquid if you want to make a cherry reduction to baste the cake layers for additional flavour and moistness – see below)

Oatmeal Crumbs

3/4 cup large flake oatmeal

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Optional, but recommended

Liqueur of your choice such as Kahlua, brandy, a cherry liqueur or a reduction of the juice from the drained cherries.

Cake

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare three round cake pans. I use non-stick pans and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then add to the shortening mixture alternating with the buttermilk.

Pour the batter into the three cake pans pushing the batter from the centre slightly up the sides of the pans.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the pans.  Remove the parchment. Allow to cool completely.

Filling

Combine the sugar, coffee and salt. Mix with the cream.

Chill for 3/4 hour in freezer, stirring occasionally.

Remove from freezer and beat until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff. This is going to be the “icing” so it does need to be stiff.

Oatmeal crumbs

Combine ingredients in saucepan. Roast on a low-medium heat on the cooktop until brown stirring continuously. Be careful not to burn. Allow to cool before assembly.

Assembly

Slice the cake into 6 layers – you will only need 5. If the cakes are too domed, keep the dome on one of the halves, but even out the others. The filling will deal with any moderate unevenness so a perfectly flat layer is not required.  The domed layer will be the top (5th layer) of the cake.

Reserve the domed layer until the last. Begin with a flat layer taken from the bottom of one of the cakes. Sprinkle a little of the liquor of choice or reduced cherry juice across the cake. Spread a layer of the cream mixture across the cake. Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the drained cherries.(The cherries are added only to the lower layers of the cake to make it easier to cut). Add another cake layer, press it down into place firmly but gently and repeat.  Then add a third layer and repeat. Add the fourth layer repeating except with no cherries.  Add the top domed layer and ice the outside of the whole cake.

Sprinkle the cake with the oatmeal crumbs.  To get them to adhere to the sides of the cake requires “throwing” them against the cake.Mocha Cake - A Pat & A Pinch

Winter Squash with Pepitas

A Pat & A Pinch - Winter Squash with PepitasI like easy recipes and this is an easy recipe!  I’m not a huge squash fan, but I do like these. They are smokey and slightly sweet with a touch of spiciness. Acorn squash are pretty easy to find through the fall and winter, but if you can find Delicata squash I think it is even better. I’ve also seen a similar recipe with Butternut squash, so there are several alternatives. One of the great things about this recipe is that you don’t need to peel the squash.

It probably would have been better if I’d posted this before Thanksgiving as I think it is so much better than those sweet yam or sweet potato recipes that are so common, but perhaps you can make it for Christmas! I adapted the recipe from one I found in an article on the Food Network site which also offers 49 other recipes for vegetable side dishes.

Winter Squash with Pepitas

2  smaller acorn or 2 normal delicata squash

2-3 tablespoons melted butter, depending on the size of your squash

1 tbsp brown sugar

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

3/4 tsp kosher or medium coarse salt

3 tbsp pepitas (unsalted pumpkin seeds)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Halve the 2 squash; slice into 1/2 – 3/4-inch-thick wedges.

Toss with melted butter,  brown sugar, smoked paprika and salt.

Roast at 425 degrees F, 40 minutes, tossing gently after 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons pepitas and roast 5 more minutes.

I have a one pan technique for this dish, using a cast iron skillet. (I love to use as few dishes as possible!)  I melt the butter in the skillet.  Then I lay down one layer of the squash slices and sprinkle about half of the smoked paprika, salt and brown sugar over it.  I repeat with a second layer which usually uses up the remaining slices.  With all the ingredients in the pan, I toss gently to coat the squash slices.  Then I slide it into the hot oven and finish as per the directions above.

A Pat & A Pinch - Winter Squash with Pepitas

Turkey and Andouille Gumbo

A Pat & A Pinch - Turkey Andouille GumboI hope that you had a fantastic Thanksgiving or, for my friends south of the border, a lovely Columbus Day weekend. It’s been months since I last posted and it’s time for something new so I give you a recipe for something to do with that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

My family has been making gumbo for as long as I can remember. Gumbo is a Cajun soup or stew like dish and there are two versions, one that relies on filé powder, the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree, and the other which relies on a roux. This recipe uses a roux. We usually make a chicken and andouille gumbo and this recipe is an adaptation of that.  Our family recipe is based on a Paul Prudhomme recipe.  The critical ingredient in a gumbo, imho, is the andouille sausage.  We are so lucky that in the Victoria area we can get a delicious and healthy andouille from Galloping Goose Sausage in Metchosin.

Gumbo is served with long grain white rice and I think that it is always better the second day.

Turkey and Andouille Gumbo

1 1/2 lbs leftover cooked turkey diced

1 lb andouille, sliced into 3/8 inch slices

3/4 cup vegetable oil such as canola (not olive oil)

1 cup flour

2 cups diced onions

2 cups dices green peppers

2 cups diced celery

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried mint

2 tsp salt

1 gallon chicken or turkey stock

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Prep the vegetables and meats.  In particular the vegetables have to be chopped before you begin.

Heat the stock in a dutch oven or other large pot.

Place your prepared onions, peppers and celery beside your cooktop.

To make the roux, heat the oil on high in a large wok or other large pan where you can keep the mixture moving at all times.  Add the flour and begin to stir. The flour will begin to cook immediately. Stir with a wooden spoon making sure to keep the flour moving. Be very careful with this mixture – it will burn easily and it will burn you if you are splashed with it. It will turn golden and then begin to brown.  Keep stirring until the mixture turns a chocolate brown and immediately stir in your chopped vegetables.

Reduce the heat and cook the coated vegetables for 3 minutes, adding the chopped garlic and cooking for another 2 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, powdered garlic, mint and salt.

Stir the roux/vegetable mixture into the hot stock scoop by scoop.  Add the sliced andouille and worcestershire sauce. Cook for 2 hours.

Add the turkey, half of the parsley and most of the chopped green onions.  Cook for an additional half hour.  Season to taste.  Serve with white rice, garnishing with the remaining parsley and green onions as desired.