Here in Manila, we have some holidays that are decidedly Western and Mother’s Day is one of them. It is made an even bigger event because I believe Filipino culture places a heavy emphasis on the place, value, and importance of the mother in a family. On Mother’s Day, you will see more traffic than normal (and that means a lot of traffic overall!) going to malls, parks, and restaurants. You will normally see heartwarming commercials with tear-inducing montages to mothers of all kind on TV at the beginning of the month and the bookstores will likely be festooned with Balloons and poems to Moms. Needless to say, it is a fairly big day.
Celebrating Mother’s Day as a Single Mom with Young Children
Since I became a mom, I like doing something just a little special to celebrate. It is said here that this is a day when Mom’s are treated like Queens, chores suspended for a day, meals cooked and served to them, etc. but since my kids are still young, I normally get lots of hugs, kisses, and ‘I love you very much, mommy’ comments rather than the other stuff—which is fantastic still, in my opinion. So, I orchestrate the ‘celebrations’ and this usually involves just a special meal and/or a trip somewhere not normally visited with the kids.
This year, I decided to bake a chocolate cake. You may be scratching your head wondering why this is different or special. Well, it is so because 1. I have never baked a cake from scratch, even when I used to bake and sell cupcakes and bars. 2. Since I have taken on single parenting, I have had very little time to do any kind of baking.
I decided to try this traditional cake because I wanted to know how to make a cake that could be a staple for celebrations. I found a seemingly yummy recipe online and decided to try it out. Here it is.
Moist Chocolate Cake:
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coca powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk
- 5 ounces (140 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
- 4 pounds (1 pound/ 454 grams confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted to remove lumps
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, and line with parchment paper, two – 9 x 2 inch deep (23 x 5 cm) round baking pans.
- In a stainless steel or heatproof bowl place the chopped unsweetened chocolate (baking, plain chocolate) and cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch processed ones). Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until they have melted. Set aside to cool while you make the batter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk to combine, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy (this will take about 3-5 minutes).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Make sure to smell the eggs and to check that they are not spoiled before adding them to the mixture or you will need to redo everything, and get and measure out a new set of ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine.
- Add the milk and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.
- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Then remove the cakes from their pans and cool completely on a greased wire rack before frosting.
- Melt the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Then place the melted chocolate, milk, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer.) Add the pieces of softened butter and beat on low speed for about 2 minutes. When the frosting starts to come together increase the speed to medium and beat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting for 1 – 2 minutes more or until it is of spreading consistency. If necessary, add more milk or sugar.
- Place one layer of cake, top side down, on your serving plate and cover with a layer of frosting.
- Then place the second layer of cake, top side down, onto the first cake layer and then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Can garnish with fresh fruit or shaved chocolate
It was tough getting back to the preciseness of baking after being out of baker’s mode for a long time but it was cool to see the cake come together. The finished result was quite good as well. I wish I had taken a picture to showcase my first attempt but the idea popped into my mind after half of the cake had been eaten so…next time. I intend to make it again at the end of the month for my birthday and, seeing as I have tried it before, I expect it to look better and to be able to whip it up faster.
What do you do on Mother’s Day?