Stir and Frost Revisited: a Weeknight Chocolate Cake

My love for cooking began in the 70s, a time when the food was marvelous in its own right. Even though it's almost heretical to say that now (trans fat and all sorts of other stuff), the food back then helped women get meals on the table. Hamburger Helper and Kraft dinner decorated every cupboard, and if you're being honest, you'll admit it tasted pretty good.

My mother worked full time and came home every single night and made dinner. Hardly ever completely homemade, but just as good. And sometimes dessert followed. And one of these desserts was known as Stir and Frost.

 What my 12 year old self wouldn't have given to have that flip in my hair.

What my 12 year old self wouldn't have given to have that flip in my hair.

Oh, my lovely Stir and Frost. It came in a package that included a powdered cake mix, and plastic pouch of frosting, and its own pan. The directions instructed you to stir the cake in the pan (maybe adding oil and eggs, I honestly don't remember) and then place that bit of loveliness in the oven. In a short 15 or 20 minutes, a chocolate cake appeared. The cake cooled, and then after kneading the frosting for 10 seconds or so according to the directions written on the pouch, you frosted your chocolate cake. And that cake fed your family, hardly a leftover to been seen.

Quite frequently, I get a hankering for a weeknight chocolate cake. I don't want layers, I don't need fancy ingredients. I just want something out of the oven that I can frost and enjoy. Like on a Wednesday.

Betty Crocker doesn't make Stir and Frost anymore, but I really desired a cake recipe that wouldn't take too much effort and tasted great. And I believe I have come up with something.

The food blogger, South in Your Mouth, has a great recipe for chocolate cake in her delightful post, Suck It, Betty Crocker. I've made a few changes, but you can't change perfection. Make this cake in an 8x8 pan, and you'll have the weeknight cake you need to get you through. Without the funk of the 70s (not that it hurt anyone all that much) and all the goodness of homemade.

 

Stir and Frost Weeknight Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 heaping teaspoon baking soda
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup strong coffee (I used 1 rounded teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 baking pan. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, mix the oil and sugar on medium speed for about a minute. (The end result will look like wet snow.) Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined, and then add in buttermilk and coffee. With the mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the buttered 8x8 pan, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool cake on cooling rack. Frost with chocolate frosting. I halved the Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting recipe from Epicurious.com. Below are the ingredients for the half recipe. Follow the instructions from the original.

Chocolate Frosting recipe

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup sour cream