Deadline Brain

From a fragment of conversation heard this evening in the office:

Me:  Is it Saturday that they want the cake for the church bake sale, or did I completely space out on things and it was today?

My husband and co-author:  Relax.  So long as they have it by 10:30 Saturday morning, you’re good.

In honor of that moment, and in lieu of something more substantive about writing (other than, my goodness writers do get spacey when they’re on a deadline), the cake recipe in question:

Marvelous Mississippi Mud Cake

5   ounces (5 1-ounce squares) unsweetened chocolate
2   Cups sifted all-purpose flour
1   tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup powdered instant coffee or instant espresso
2   Tbsp boiling water
1   cup plus 2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup bourbon, or rum, or amaretto, or cognac
1   cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1   tsp vanilla extract
2   cups powdered sugar
3   large eggs plus 1 large extra yolk
1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk
cocoa or confectioners sugar optional

Generously grease  a nine inch Bundt pan – 10 cup capacity.  Position rack in center of oven and heat oven to 325 deg. F.

Melt chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water.  (Or, these days,melt the  chocolate in your microwave.) Remove chocolate before it is completely melted and stiruntil smooth.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.  In a two cup glass measure dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water, stir in the cold water, and bourbon or other flavoring and set aside.

Beat the butter with vanilla and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle beater until  well blended and smooth. (Or use a handheld electric mixer if that’s what you’ve got.)  Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in the extra yolk and sour cream.  Scrape down the bowl and beater.  Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat until the batter is smooth.

Remove the bowl from the stand.  By hand using a spoon or rubber spatula stir in small amounts of the flour mixture and the coffee-bourbon liquid.  Beat until the batter is smooth;  it will be quite thin.  Don’t worry if the batter looks slightly curdled.

Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake until the cake top is springy to the touch and slightly cracked looking and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean — about 65 to 70 minutes.  Do not over cook.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Top with another rack or plate and invert.  Lift off pan,  Cool completely.

Top with light sifting of confectioners sugar or cocoa.  Serve with bourbon-laced slightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I got this recipe from my father; I have no idea where he got it from.  It’s clearly been around for a while, though; you can tell that much from the fact that the original version called for melting the chocolate in a double boiler.

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