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Showing posts with label selfcare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label selfcare. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake for a New Friend

Will this chocolate cake make me a new friend? Will it help my mental state? Will it help me prove to myself that I'm a person, not 'a mother'? Well...

Like so many other uterus-owning humans that have birthed other humans, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis since the birth of my own offspring. Therefore, I'm trying to get back into a big piece of what made me who I am as a cook, which is my voice on this blog. Don't worry, I'm not going to turn into one of those completely annoying bloggers that need to tell you my life story before I give you a recipe. I'll just give you a paragraph or two and explain why I made this cake when I did, and continue on with a story in the middle of the recipe so you can read it while you're waiting for the cake to bake...

My husband has been on parental leave for the last two weeks, to go with my six weeks of maternity leave. I cannot stress enough how much of a perfect partner that he has been, and I'm so grateful to his family as well for helping me while I wrestle with my PPD and PPA. His mother was kind enough to come over the other day and just hold the baby for a few hours while I clean the house, get a break, and make a cake for a person that was visiting later that afternoon, who happened to be one of my husband's coworkers, dropping off some samples for a big project he's working on. I was determined to make the house presentable for them and send them off with a sweet treat or two as a thank you for being such an awesome individual to my husband since he's come to his company. I could think of nothing better than a moist and delicious chocolate mayonnaise bundt cake. 

Chocolate Mayonnaise Bundt Cake

  • 2 1/4 c or 17.5 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c full fat mayonnaise
    • Please don't use the diet stuff
  • 2 3/4 c or 13 oz oz AP flour
  • 1/4 c or 2 oz cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 1/2 c boiling water
  • 1 c or 3.5 oz good cocoa powder
Boiled frosting
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 oz or 2 Tbsp butter or vegan butter substitute
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp good cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c full fat mayonnaise
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a bundt pan with pan spray and flour, unless you have a nonstick kind, in which case...just leave it. We're going to make the frosting first! Simply combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Allow it to simmer for 1 minute, stirring often, and then remove from the heat. Give it a nice stir and set aside to cool. When it's at room temperature, stir it again and add the mayonnaise to combine. 

Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. I know it's seeming excessive, but whisk to combine and then whip on medium-high for 4 minutes. During that time, boil your water and pour it into a bowl with your espresso powder and cocoa powder. Give it a quick whisk and set aside while you gather the remainder of your ingredients.

This is called 'mise en place' and you should make it a priority.

When your 4 minutes is up, scrape the bowl with a spatula and give it one more quick whip, no more than 10 seconds or so, just to make sure that absolutely everything is incorporated. Add in your mayonnaise and whip for another minute or so, until back to its original fluffy state. 

Add in your dry ingredients, one third at a time, alternating with half of the chocolate mixture, until everything is combined without any lumps. Give the bowl a quick scrape with a spatula, especially on the bottom, and ensure that you've got every little bit of this batter homogenous. Pour into your prepared bundt cake pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the cake pulls away slightly from the edges of the pan and that the top of the cake springs back when touched. 

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan before turning the cake out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before finishing with the icing. Now, let's have a little story, while we're waiting for whatever we are waiting for. Maybe it's for the cake to bake? Maybe it's for the cake to cool? Either way...

One of the reasons that I made this cake is because I felt well enough to do so, but also because I had a wonderful support system at home with my husband's amazing mother coming over to help me with the baby. I wouldn't say my baby is difficult at all - but they do like to be held quite a bit. Since you can't spoil a baby, I try to give as many hugs and cuddles as I can, but I'm still learning to wear the baby with my baby sling while I cook. I've resolved to cook something at least twice per week while wearing the baby in the sling until I get better at it or until I figure something else out. I didn't wear the baby while making this cake; my mother-in-law got to cuddle the little Lemon while I got to bake this cake and give myself a breather. I know it's likely a little strange to want to bake a cake immediately after giving birth, especially if you're struggling with Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety, but what made me so happy the day I was able to make that cake was the fact that I accomplished a task that had nothing to do with my baby and that made me feel incredibly fulfilled.

A note: if you have a friend that just had a baby, please don't ask them "how can I help you?" Just go over to their house and clean something. It doesn't matter what it is or if you do it perfectly - just run a load of laundry, empty and fill the dishwasher, or take out the trash for them. Help her keep their sanity by taking one thing off her plate. Heck, even just shooting them a Venmo for enough for dinner for two would be a nice treat. I know that, for me, the thought of delegating and dictating exactly what I need during this postpartum era of my life is just as exhausting as the actual act of doing whatever it is I need to do. And you know what? Your dear friend will feel loved and will remember that. Big thanks to my friends that have helped me, as well as my family!

As for the reasoning on why I chose this cake recipe in particular: it's one of the easiest cakes to just throw together with a few readily available ingredients that's also incredibly indulgent and moist. I have been a fan lately of ease and convenience when it comes to cooking, especially with things that I can use from just whatever is in the pantry. Building up a good reserve of things instead of going to the shops every day is a much more sustainable way to live, even outside of Quarantine which is where I picked up the habit. Making your own fun at home isn't so bad, and I'm grateful that I've learned that last year. 

When my husband's coworker came to the house, my mother-in-law had already left and the house was so much cleaner than I would have had it otherwise. It wasn't that it was dirty, necessarily, just well lived-in. I felt so relieved to welcome a new friend into a relatively clean home and to send them off with a big slice of this chocolate cake. They even noticed the recipe for Spiced Rhubarb Pie on the fridge and asked about it, so of course, I had to send them home with a slice of that as well. I'm told that my husband later received a text or two asking how I got the cake to be midnight black. The answer, of course, is the right kind of cocoa powder.

Dutch-processed cocoa is going to be a fairly standard item you'll find in most grocery stores. If you want beautifully dark cakes and cookies, however, you're going to want what they call 'double dutch' cocoa powder. It's much darker than your standard cocoa powder and will have a richer flavor as well. If you can find triple-processed cocoa powder, all the better and all the darker! I would love to tell you where I got my cocoa powder but the truth is I bought a 50 lb bag some years ago from a friend whose bakery was going out of business and I'm still working through the giant tub I've got in the bottom of my pantry. (I threw the bag away a long time ago.) 

Are you done, yet? Did you ice the cake and finish it? To eat it, I highly recommend serving chocolate cake at room temperature. You can absolutely have this cake by itself, but I love my cake with a glass of ice-cold almond milk, even in the winter. You'll want to have chocolate cake at room temperature because the fragrance of the chocolate will only come out if it's not cold. This cake is criminally moist, just a little tangy from the mayonnaise, and not overly sweet so it's much easier to eat than a standard chocolate cake might be. So hey, have two slices! I think you've earned it...

I hope this has inspired you to make some cake and give yourself a little win for the day. If nothing else, you can make a nice little bit of cake for yourself to enjoy. Thank you so much to my amazing family and friends for their incredible support during my postpartum period. Thanks so much for spending a piece of your day or night with me. Happy cooking and happy eating!