Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Boat Galley: Chocolate Delight

This week's Boat Galley article is so sweet with a chocolate cake recipe you can make on your boat...

Guest blog by Carolyn Shearlock
Carolyn Shearlock, author of The Boat Galley, appears weekly on the Daily Boater with tips for getting the most out of your boat's kitchen.

Chocolate cake on a boat
Photo: Carolyn Shearlock, theboatgalley.com


I’ll admit it, I’m a chocoholic. You too? The problem is that so many chocolate treats are hard to make on a boat - either the ingredients are hard to store in hot weather, the baking process doesn’t lend itself to a galley oven, or the finished product does poorly in heat.

Today’s Topic: A Boater's Recipe for Chocolate Upside Down Cake...

Here’s one recipe that works well – and if your boat doesn’t have an oven, don’t despair! I’ve also baked it in an Omnia Stove Top Oven and it turns out beautifully (learn more about the Omnia and see the pictures of how well the cake bakes in it here.)

My great-grandmother began serving this chocolate cake over 100 years ago, and it's been a family favorite ever since. It is great on a boat, as it uses cocoa instead of baking chocolate, was intended to be mixed by hand and baked in a “moderate oven” fueled by wood – perfect for a somewhat temperamental galley oven. Plus, the frosting won’t run in tropical heat!


Grandma Phila’s Chocolate Upside Down Cake  

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (see note below)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ Tablespoons cocoa
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
2 Tablespoons melted butter, oleo or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup nuts

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Pour into an ungreased 8”x8” pan (or anything that is reasonably close). Let sit while you prepare the topping - which can be made in the same bowl (scrape the batter into the pan and you don’t need to wash the bowl).

½ cup brown sugar (if not available, use white and a smidge of honey or molasses)
½ cup sugar
5 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Mix together and spoon over the mix in the baking pan. You’ll notice that the cake mix will start to float to the surface – that’s normal. Bake in an oven at 350 for 35 minutes. Cake is done when the top is uniformly dry, although the frosting mixture may bubble around the sides. Don’t overbake! Allow to cool before serving.

To serve, cut cake into pieces and slip a spatula under one slice. Carefully take it out of the pan and flip it “upside down” onto a plate – the gooey frosting will now be on top. Generally not all of the frosting will have come out of the pan. If this happens, scrape the extra out and smooth it over the top of the slide.
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Notes:  If you use a smaller pan, the mix will be thicker and you’ll probably have to bake it longer. An 8” or 9” round pan works well, as does a 9” x 6” pan or even a bread pan. This recipe doubles well to fill a 9 x 13 pan – baking time is approximately the same.

Be sure to store your baking powder inside a Ziploc™ bag, taking it out just long enough to measure the amount you need. Humidity is the enemy of baking powder, since it reacts with moisture to raise the batter. If it’s already reacted with moisture in the air, it won’t do anything for your batter. I learned this the hard way, with a very flat cake!

If I make this while underway or in a rolly anchorage, I measure the cup of water for the topping when I put it into the teakettle to heat, then just pour it into the mixing bowl. Much safer than trying to measure boiling water in a moving boat.

My oven doesn’t hold a temperature well - it goes up and down seemingly randomly. I’ve found that I have good results if I set a timer and keep checking the temperature and adjust it as necessary every 5 minutes. But don’t open the door to look at the cake that often!

Carolyn Shearlock is author of The Boat Galley, with over 300 FREE articles to get the most out of your boat kitchen with galley tips, insights & equipment recommendations. A few recipes, too - plus an active Facebook community to ask questions and share tips with other readers!

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