The Daley Question
September 25, 2012
Q: I am originally from the Southwest side of the city. I grew up on a Canasta cake made by Weber's Bakery on Archer Avenue. I live retired in Phoenix now and I can find nothing like it here. When I fly back from the city, I stop there and bring one back on the plane along with fresh Polish sausage and pierogi from Joe and Frank's at Archer and Harlem. Is there anyway to get that cake recipe? It is to die for.
—Bob Jensen, Phoenix
A: Monica Kass Rogers, the Evanston-based food writer, specializes in adapting vintage recipes from restaurants and bakeries into workable versions home cooks can make in home kitchens. She posts her work on her website, Lost Recipes Found (lostrecipesfound.com). She gladly took up the challenge of your Canasta cake question.
How to describe the cake? Here's Rogers on her website: "Two 8-inch square chocolate layers, with chocolate buttercream filling, chocolate fudge frosting and milk-chocolate jimmies trimming the sides, the Canasta cake is built on the premise that you can never get too much chocolate."
Below, you'll find the recipe Rogers developed and posted on her Web site. She credits the Charles Fingerhut Bakeries with creating the cake in the early 1950s after the Canasta card game craze had swept the country. Her recipe is based on one she said was shared with her by third-generation baker Michael Weber of Weber's Bakery, 7055 West Archer Ave., Chicago (webersbakery.com).
Give her home-oriented version a go and let me know what you think.
Monica Kass Rogers uses a Lindt Bittersweet Swiss chocolate bar in this recipe, which makes one two-layer, 8-inch square cake.
Canasta cake ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon each: salt; baking powder
Chocolate fudge frosting:
1 3.5-ounce bar bittersweet chocolate
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
5 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Buttercream Filling and Garnish Ingredients
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate jimmies
1.Make cake: Heat 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons corn syrup to boiling in a medium-sized pot. Set aside.
2.Combine cocoa powder with vegetable oil; stir until smooth. Stir cocoa mixture into sweetened milk mixture.
3.Cream together 1 1/2 cups sugar with softened butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Add buttermilk. (Do not worry if this curdles the mixture–it will sort itself out.)
4. Whisk together cake flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients alternately with the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
5. Spray two 8-inch square pans with cooking spray. Pour batter into prepared pans. Tap pans to ensure bubbles escape. Bake for 25 minutes in a 375-degree oven or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert layers onto racks to cool completely. Trim off any "dome" on each layer to ensure layers are level.
6.Make chocolate fudge frosting: Melt butter and chocolates together at 50 percent power in a microwave oven or use a double boiler. Cool slightly. In bowl of standing mixer, combine powdered sugar with milk and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until spreading consistency. Set aside.
7.Make chocolate buttercream filling: In the clean bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Melt chocolate over double boiler and cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla to creamed butter mixture. Fold in chocolate mixture with a spatula, or at low speed. Cool slightly.
8.Frost cake: Cover bottom layer with buttercream filling. Place the rest of the buttercream in a pastry decoration tube and set aside. Place top layer on cake; cover top and sides with chocolate fudge frosting. Using your fingers, gently pat milk chocolate jimmies onto the frosted sides. Garnish top of cake with buttercream rosettes or squiggles.
9.Chill briefly in the refrigerator to let the chocolate set up, about 15 minutes.
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: email@example.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.
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