The pages that comprise my mother’s scrapbook cooking journal are worn and splattered -- they tell the story of a keen, self-taught cook. Skipping into the kitchen as children and seeing mum’s book open on the bench, we knew we were in for a treat. This book is filled with recipes from friends -- Mrs. Beashel’s banana cake, Aunty Sue’s Cornish yeast buns, and a local chef’s porcini risotto -- and clippings from magazines. Then there are those well-leafed-through pages and bookmarked family favorites, which mum revisited again and again to feed us. The page with the recipe for One Bowl Chocolate Cake opens with familiar ease.
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This cake sparked my childhood baking initiatives. It is a simple, efficient, and terribly forgiving recipe; it's perfect for a hungry little girl fighting her brothers and father for the chance to lick the bowl and beaters. I was never quite capable of getting every drop into the cake pan, so I always left a rather generous amount of rich mixture in the mixing bowl. (My love of baking may very well have arisen out of a desire to have the leftover batter all to myself.)
Regardless, this is a favorite recipe that has been passed down in our family. Because of its simplicity (one bowl, one mixer, one cake pan, voilà), I could make it all by myself from a young age. And it would always work fabulously, no matter how soft the butter was or how much mixture I ate along the way. On reflection, this surely instilled an inflated sense of skill, but perhaps that’s the key to kitchen success -- fearless passion and an eagerness to taste as you go.
I would bake this cake whenever I got the chance. For school snacks, we’d serve it plain and without icing. For my brother’s birthday, however, it was coated with icing and jelly snakes and chocolate buttons -- just to make sure he knew how much I loved him. (Not enough to let him lick the beaters, though. That’s the cook’s privilege, right?)
I hold this recipe, the chocolate cake from my childhood days, dear to my heart. It was a real treat to make it again for a tasty trip down memory lane. These days I quite fancy an elegant icing, a rosemary-infused or crème fraîche mixture, perhaps. I’m not sure my younger self would agree, but surely she’d be up for tasting the mixture. ?