This post isn’t really about a simple chocolate cake so much as it is about the person behind the cake. For all of the naysayers who might think it crazy that real relationships can be built through social media, I would offer up to them my kinship with Jamie Schler, the talented writer behind the blog Life’s a Feast. We’ve known each other for years (I wish I knew how many but I would guess 5 or 6), starting with chatting on Twitter and finding mutual blog love to having conversations on Skype and dreaming of the day I get my butt to a national IACP conference which Jamie always makes…and she is coming from France!
We both have two kids; her boys both a bit younger than my girls but still the travails are always identifiable. We also both have dogs we adore, her beloved Marty who has been having his share of old age problems and my sweet Abbie, who is fading fast. The anticipated loss of our beloved pooches has us both knowing intimately how the other is feeling; doggone why do they have to touch our hearts so strongly and yet leave us so soon?
We’ve found common ground for discussion around blogging, family, friends, food and yes, dogs and in those years I have come to know Jamie beyond just a casual tweet; I consider her a real friend. One big difference between us? Jamie is a passionate writer; the type who lives for writing; curses the days when it is not easy and relishes those days when the words flow uninterrupted by thoughts that squelch the perfect verb or a brain that refuses to yield the sweetest and most appropriate adjective. Jamie, like many artists, suffers for her craft when I just suffer because I have to do it at all! I am not a food blogger because I feel called to write; not one teeny, tiny, itty bitty bit. I write so that I can share my passion which is quite simply the foods I love to cook. Jamie is a writer who shares her passion through food. I am a foodie who shares my passion through writing. There is a difference. Truth be told; if I could just focus on cooking and baking and photography, there are days I would love nothing more than leaving a sentence as simple as ‘Here it is; hope you enjoy.’ Jamie is segueing on one front to just the opposite, realizing her passion can cover more than food and is bravely forging ahead with plans to realize those unknown worlds.
One of her efforts in that vein is a newer project called simply Plated Stories. Jamie and her good friend Ilva Beretta have joined their individual creative efforts into Plated Stories; a blog that combines the talents of both women. Jamie is a freelance writer specializing in food and culture living in Nantes, France and she does the writing for Plated Stories. Ilva is a food photographer living in Tuscany, Italy. Her blog is Luculliandelights.com and her portfolio is at ilvaberetta.com. She photographs Plated Stories.
In addition to their individual efforts for the blog, the women also hold small and intimate gatherings for food bloggers who are craving guidance in their own work and who look to both Jamie and Ilva as experts in the areas of writing and photography. I can not deny that I long for a chance to attend; they have held attendance at some amazing locations in Europe.
As new as their combined effort is; the praises are rolling in. Plated Stories recently received a prestigious award from the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) for the Best Photo Based Culinary Blog and now they have been nominated as a finalist in Saveur’s fifth annual Best Food Blog Awards for Best Writing. Why I am not included for Best Boozer is beyond me!
If I’m honest, I prefer the IACP award process; the winners in those categories are chosen by a panel of judges. Not so with Saveur. While Saveur does ask for nominations; they include their own opinion of the best in the final list of nominees and the final decision on who wins is left to voters. Which finally gets you to the point of my post today. I would love for you to consider voting for Jamie and Ilva in the Best Writing category; two truly talented and inspiring creatives that I think are most deserving. Take a moment to read one of Jamie’s storied matched with the beauty of Ilva’s photos and see for yourself what others are recognizing; this is truly a deserving pair!
As a reward for your efforts; I offer this cake! So simple and delicious on it’s own, Jamie accompanies it with a just a drizzle of chocolate. I love chocolate but prefer it mixed with something ‘not chocolate’ and this frosting was perfect. The cake has a slight amount of cinnamon in it. Adding a cinnamon buttercream frosting made it a bit more decadent but sometimes decadent is good. I plan to give it to a neighbor for her birthday and this will be her first experience with food blogger food; you know where the cake has two slices sort of wedged back in place. :)
So, for me, please go vote (of course for Plated Stories!) and then? Let them eat cake!
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Scant 3/4 cup sugar
- ½ - 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup warm milk
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2-3 Tbsp milk
- Chocolate curls for garnishing cake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Oil and line with parchment paper either one 9-inch round cake pan or two 7-inch (18 cm) round cake pans. (I had a graduated series so mine are one 8-inch round and the top is a 6-inch round).
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamo together in in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl or a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the warm milk, the oil, eggs and vanilla.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. For a smooth, lump-free batter, pour about a quarter of the liquid ingredients into the well, and using a whisk with small, brisk circular movements, mix with just enough of the dry until you have a thick, smooth, lump-free batter in the center. Add some more of the liquid, pull in a bit more of the dry ingredients and briskly whisk again until your batter is smooth.
- Continue until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into your batter, add any remaining liquid and mix a final time.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s) and bake for about 30 minutes (for one 9-inch round pan and depending on your oven) until the center of your cake or layers is just firm to the touch, completely cooked through. The cake should start to pull away from the sides of the pan just after it is removed from the oven. Adjust your time depending on the size of your cake pans; My 8-inch one needed 25 minutes and the 6 inch one about 20 minutes.
- Remove to racks, let cool for about 10 minutes, then slide a sharp knife blade around the edges to loosen, turn the cake out onto racks, peel off the parchment paper, flip back upright and let cool completely. Serve as is with a dusting of confectioner's sugar or a drizzle of chocolate or layer it with frosting.
- Beat the butter In the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon milk and beat on high speed until the frosting is spreading consistency. If the frosting is stiff, add a few more drops of milk, beating after each addition. Frost the cooled cake and garnish with chocolate curls.
- This recipe makes enough to frost two 9-inch layers or 24 cupcakes so you might have some leftover. I love it on graham crackers!