The Star Tribune’s Taste section debuted 50 years ago, on Oct. 1, 1969.
What better way to observe a landmark Minnesota birthday than by baking a cake recipe from a landmark Minnesota cookbook?
“Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland” was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1994 — it was one of 16 volumes in its “Cooks American” series — and the title was rereleased in paperback (University of Minnesota Press) a decade later.
“ ‘Savoring’ celebrates Midwestern cooking in an effort to define, as the series does, where we came from and who we are,” summarized a 1994 Taste story.
The well-researched book, which is marking its 25th anniversary in 2019 — another occasion for cake, right? — was written by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson, then owner of Lucia’s Restaurant in Minneapolis.
There’s a doozy of a layer cake recipe in “Savoring,” one that delivers a pumped-up chocolate wallop.
“We think it came from an old church cookbook, or maybe my grandmother’s recipe box, but we don’t remember,” recalled Watson. “I just know once we tested it, I put it on the restaurant menu, and boom!”
For an instant birthday party, just bake this bestselling crowd-pleaser, and add candles. In this case, 50 of them.
Happy birthday, Taste!
Minnesota Fudge Cake
Makes 2 (10-inch) cakes.
From “Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland” by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson.
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3 c. cake flour, plus extra for pans
• 5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
• 2 1/2 c. sugar, divided
• 1 3/4 c. milk, divided
• 5 eggs, divided
• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pans
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (see recipe)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 2 (10-inch) round cake pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together baking soda, salt and flour, and reserve.
In a double boiler set over gently simmering water, stir together chocolate, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup milk and 1 egg. Keep stirring while the chocolate melts, and continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture becomes thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with remaining 1 cup milk and beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add reserved chocolate mixture and mix until combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a sharp knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove pans from oven and transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool thoroughly on a wire rack before frosting with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Enough to frost a 2-layer cake.
From “Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland,” by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson.
• 1 1/2 c. chopped milk chocolate
• 1 1/2 c. chopped semisweet chocolate
• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
In a double boiler over gently simmering water, slowly melt the milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate. Remove from heat and allow chocolate to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add chocolate mixture and continue beating until creamy.
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib