Sunday and What There Was to Fry, and Bake

Sometimes I get such a craving for something (food wise. Makeup lust being something else all together) that I can't get it out of my head.  That thing is the Blackout Cake.  I recall eating this in my childhood and just how chocolately and rich it was.  It is a layered chocolate cake, with a chocolate pudding-y filling, a rich chocolate frosting topped by a crumb layer.  Apparently, this is a classic Brooklyn cake, made famous by Ebinger's which eventually went bust in 1972.  I only had the Entenmann's version but my memories of it was still sweet.  Recently, I was seeing it pop up in various places: a New York Magazine article, and most recently an NPR story.

That was it, it was time to tackle this cake.

Unfortunately, I am a pretty bad baker.  I am not a very precise person and the chemistry experiment that is the act of baking is really not where my skills are.  However, having moved a few years ago where I had the luxury of a larger kitchen (and room to make a mess), I started to take on baking.

 And not all turned out well or edible.  There was that time, my then kindergarten daughter had a friend over for a play date.  I thought it would be a nice activity to bake with them as an activity.  Baking with children seems like a great idea, but it's really not.  Keeping them entertained while keeping track of the recipe proved slightly beyond my skills.  Now I have many conversations with my daughter that start like this: "mommy, remember that one time you made a cake and you forgot the sugar?"

But cravings seem to obliterate any sense of reason which require making the cake, which includes 4 (YES FOUR) different types of chocolates, boiling water, whipped egg whites, assembling, crumbling, and making a pudding filling.

Everything went wrong.  All wrong.  The cake went into a 375 degree F oven, which I took care to cook for a shorter time because my oven tends to run very hot.  No matter, the cake was over cooked at the edges and turned into hard disks.  The pudding filling, which is thickened using cornstarch turned out super runny.  And then looking at the frosting, which was a giant pile of chocolate (hand chopped), melted over a double boiler, filled me with rage by the time assembled the cake.  I had chocolate cake crumbs everywhere.  Oozy pudding filling dribbled from the cake, and onto the counter.  Husband told me to calm the heck down and not to throw the cake away.

About 24 hours later:
I couldn't bear to do the crumb layer and the frosting (too much crying).  It was the richest, light, most delicious chocolate cake I've had.  It rivaled my childhood memory.  It wasn't pretty, but it was tasty.  Reader, it was divinity in chocolate form!  There, approximately four hours of my life was torturous but worth the effort.  Not sure I would make this again though.  If I did, I would lower my wonky oven temperature and watch the cake a bit more closely.  I would add more cornstarch to the filling to thicken some more.

With chocolate cake, of course there is fried chicken.  Buttermilk fried chicken.  I don't use any particular recipe, as I tend to throw in whatever seasoning I like at the time I'm making it.  Key of course is a great cooking vessel and I love any excuse to break out my large cast iron pan.
Oil with a high smoke point heated to about 350 degrees

 Chicken is soaked in buttermilk for many hours (overnight is great), with bay leaves, hefty amount of salt, black pepper, fresh chopped oregano (which I have because that's the only survior in my herb garden), lots of sweet paprika, and a big handful of a Emeril's seasoning mix of cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and oregano.
Raw chicken looks gross
A seasoned flour mix is prepared in a giant Trader Joe's paper bag.  You can add whatever you like and even just salt and pepper is fine.  I added that, plus more paprika and more onion and garlic powders.

Trust me, the epic Tums in the background will come in handy later on.
 Here's my seasoned flour for dredging the chicken.  You throw a few chicken pieces at a time in there and give them a good shake.  Let out all your aggression from making that Blackout cake with the shaking. 

Here are all the chicken pieces ready to go.  I've used thighs with skin and bone in.  You can use breast meat but why?  Why when dark meat is so delicious and fatty?

Meanwhile, heat your oven to a low temperature (about 200 degrees F) to keep the pieces warm while you are cooking in batches.
Gently lower your chicken into the hot oil.  Please be careful, this is not a cooking method for the careless!  Watch the temperature, and make sure you remain around 350 or a bit higher.  Lower temperature will allow a lot of oil to seep into the fried food. 
After 10-12 minutes on each side, flip over gently with tongs to cook the other side for another 10 or so minutes.
It's important to check the internal temperature.  I use an instant read thermometer.  I aim for 160.  Thigh meat is very forgiving and less likely to overcook.  You can also check for doneness by poking through to the bone with a knife and seeing the color of the liquid coming out of the little hole.  It should run clear.

Cooked pieces are drained on a cooling rack placed above a baking tray.  Put the tray into your warm oven while you cook the rest of the pieces.
Shoo husband and children out of the kitchen (dangerous hot OIL!) because all they want to do it eat your cake and pick at the delicious crunchy chicken which fills the air with CHICKEN SMELLS!

My excuse for eating Blackout Cake & buttermilk fried chicken for Sunday dinner was, I was cooped inside the house all weekend.  I even shared cake and chicken with our friends.

What's your Sunday evening dinner favorites?

Blackout cake recipe here.

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