a few days of quiet and a chocolate bundt cake

The house has been strangely silent since Sunday afternoon. There has been no kids’ television on, which means no canned laughter or lilting children’s songs adding to our home’s background noise. There has not been any whining or crying or yelling…and definitely no laughing or giggling. No doors slamming or feet stomping up the stairs or the musical electronic sounds of the iPad games that Oliver likes to play so much.

My mother has kept our children for the last three nights, providing us with very cheap childcare until I can be off work for the holidays. With school out for Christmas, we usually struggle a bit with where the kids should go during the day. This time — like many other times — Nana came to the rescue. And the kids were thrilled to go to Nana’s for a three night “sleepover” in the country. Sam and I have had a delightful break from parenting, but we miss the kids and all the chaos that they bring to our lives.

It’s just been too quiet with them gone.

Usually, I do my best writing at my home office desk, while managing to (mostly) tune out the cacophony of noises that arise from having a 5 year old, an 8 year old, two cats, and a husband in the house. I’ve struggled with writing for the last three nights, and I’m just realizing that perhaps it is because I’m missing that noise and those distractions that, ironically, manage to keep my brain focused.

That doesn’t make sense at all, does it?

I can’t explain the writing process that I use, but when the words come, they come, and when they don’t come, well…you end up with silence here on the blog for several days. And I end up with a building sense of frustration.

The kids come home Wednesday night, so life as we know it will be restored. I’ll be off work and home for a nice holiday break starting on Thursday. I’m gearing up for Christmas meal planning, wrapping the last of the presents, and baking up some holiday cookies for the first time this season.

I’m pretty sure this is cause for celebration – with cake!

If you, like me, are a fan of chocolate, you will want to bake this cake. The kids have already requested that I bake it again for Christmas, and Madeline has taken to calling it the “Brownie Cake” because of its brownie-like texture and density. I’ve caught my husband slicing off little bits when he thinks I’m not looking – and even when he knows I am. It’s very rich and heavy, and I recommend serving it with lightly-sweetened whipped cream (homemade, of course) or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Even better, warm a slice of cake up a little bit in the microwave and then plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to it.  Go ahead and put a cherry on top while you’re at it. I didn’t, but hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

Yield: 12-14 servings

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Feel free to sprinkle confectioners sugar over the top of the cake when you're ready to serve it, or just serve it with a dollop of lightly-sweetened whipped cream.

Use a 10-inch bundt pan (3-quart) for this cake.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process), plus extra for dusting pan
1-1/2 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place oven rack in the middle position. Spray the bundt pan well with baking spray with flour, or butter the pan well and dust with cocoa powder (about 3 tablespoons), knocking out the excess.

Over medium heat, heat coffee, Grand Marnier, butter, and cocoa powder together in a 3-quart saucepan, whisking until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, and stir well until dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool for at least 5 minutes.

While the chocolate mixture cools, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla, then whisk into the cooled chocolate mixture until well incorporated. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Batter will be thin and bubbly at this point. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, approximately 2 hours, then loosen cake from pan using the tip of a sharp knife. Carefully invert pan over a cake plate and turn cake out onto plate.

Adapted from a recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake from Gourmet, September 2005.

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9 Responses to “baking therapy: orange creamsicle cake | the merry gourmet”

  1. DessertForTwo — September 9, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

    Such a lovely read, as always. I, too, cherish every morning, even if I’ve been up til 3am harvesting corn the night before. It’s such a fresh new start. I think about all the healthy things I will eat and do before bedtime.

    Lovley, lovely cake!

  2. MJ your mornings with the kids sound lovely. And I SO know how baking comforts – for a couple of hours, when you are baking, all seems right with the world. As it would with this cake in my life!

  3. jenn s — September 9, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    I cannot wait to make this cake, MJ!! And I’m with you, baking/cooking is cathartic…

  4. Rosemary — September 9, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    MJ, you always make me smile 🙂

  5. Laura — September 9, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    Beautifully written! Baking is my therapy too. Stay strong throughout your “on service” time!

  6. Deb — September 10, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    I just adore the orange creamsicle cake, especially the pastel hue! I agree baking is great therapy! When my mind is spinning and my heart is heavy I busy my hands. The mind and heart will usually follow.

  7. olga — September 10, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    I’m both sad and glad we don’t live close to one another. Mostly sad. 🙂 the cake looks delicious. Orange creamsicle? Yes, please.

    Also you’re way ahead of me on running. One of these days…

  8. Paula — September 13, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

    What a beautiful and delicious sounding cake. I hope your *on service* shift doesn’t fill your evenings with nightmares this time around. Baking is my therapy too but so too are your beautiful and tenderly written blog posts.

  9. Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) — September 18, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

    This looks so spectacular! I love the rosy color of the frosting and especially the addition of the citrus.

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