Everyone has a story to tell. If you listen hard enough people will share their life with you, their unique experience, how they came to be. I’ve been listening to stories “whole my life.” I have a Korean friend, Young Shin Kim, that does odd things to the English language that somehow seemed truer than the way we say the words. Whole my life, is one of those. And whole my life, the spoken story was a way of entertainment, a way to connect, a method of commerce. As a child, stories and the tellin’ was Saturday night entertainment. People, some of whom were related to me, the rest just seemed like they were, would just drop by my Grannies house and sit a spell in the front yard. The cool of the evening in that small foothill town came with the setting of the sun. Folks just showed up. Granny always had cake, and coffee and sweet tea. Chairs were put out in her front yard, where her gardens, full of flowers blooming, changed the very air around us… to something sweeter. The ever present moist pine smell from the woods gathered at the edges of the yard, where night birds sang their last high notes of the day and frogs from the creek down the hill delivered a background cadence with their own stories to tell. Sometimes us kids would be running and jumping in the dark, catching lightning bugs for a while in little jars, our hands smelling that tobacco juice smell that was bug juice, our bare feet cold from the dew that fell with the dark. Until some Uncle or Aunt would call us down, to settle still a while. We would crawl up on somebodies lap and start to listen, to see the places in our minds that these spoken words created for us. They were stories of the generations before us, when our Granny was a child, and she and her sisters had to ride a mule to town or walk. When the woods were bigger and things lived there that no-one could explain. Talk would turn to to Uncle Russell and the war, or Uncle Bill and the planes he flew in that very war, The Korean Conflict. They spoke of the victories, not of the pain, not of the horror, even though Uncle Bill was shot down and injured badly and still walked with a limp, but thank the Good Lord, had his leg. Towards the end of the evening, Mimi, my great Grandmother would send one of us older kids up the hill to get her auto-harp and the adults would start to sing, us kids would join up earnestly, even if we only knew the chorus. Out in the yard I would fall asleep as the voices became murmurs and strong arms held me safe, the lingering sweet taste of cake in my mouth.
This recipe for this Chocolate Cake did not come from my Granny, it actually came from a writer friend of mine that is a mentor for writers like me. He got it from a famous restaurant in Nashville that is known for their Burgers and Patty Melts and lunch plates. They also have a full bar, kinda unusual in a place that is also a meat and three. My friend, Terry Price was given this years ago by Mrs. Rotier, I have however, changed it. I can’t leave anything alone. And it is now called That Adult Chocolate Cake, because it is now dark chocolate and spicy(my addition) and does feel slightly sexy and illegal when you are eating huge hunks of it. And it is easy,easy,easy, you bake it, frost it when its still warm and serve it in the same pan. Warm.
My Granny would have loved this recipe as it uses buttermilk. She churned her own butter and we always had lots of buttermilk left from that. This is for my friend, Chris Brewer who has threatened to come to my house and make me make it for him. Now he can make it for himself, although I know he will make his beautiful talented girlfriend, Kim Mackey, make it for him. He needs to marry that girl, shes beautiful, she can cook, and sings like her soul has caught fire.
That Adult Chocolate Cake
don’t even get out your mixer, you don’t need it. Grease and lightly flour a 9″X 13″ pan, glass or metal. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, blend together
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
In another bowl
Melt 2 sticks of salted butter, blend in 6 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa, 1 tablespoon vanilla then add 1 cup of water, set aside for a minute
In another separate bowl add 2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
Pour the butter mixture (2nd bowl) into the flour mixture(1st bowl), blend well
Immediately add the buttermilk, egg mixture(3rd bowl), blend well again. Don’t over beat let the buttermilk and the baking soda do their magic.
pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, do the springback test to see if it is done. Do not over bake, with all that cocoa it can taste burnt really fast.
about 10 minutes or so before the cake is done, don’t do it earlier you will eat it all, in a pot on the stove top, medium heat, melt 1 stick of butter and add 4 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, and 1/8 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne). Add 6 tablespoons 1/2 and 1/2 creme. take off heat, add 1 tsp. vanilla and then add 1 box (1 pound) of powdered sugar, beat all that together. it should be thick, kinda like fudge before it cools down, but it should pour add more 1/2 and 1/2 if needed..
If you want…add a cup of walnuts or pecans, sometimes I want nuts, sometimes I don’t.
Here’s the great part, when the cake is done, pull it out and let it cool for 5 minutes then pour the icing over the top and get a spoon and a bowl cause you’re gonna want some while its still hot.
My Granny would have so loved this with black coffee, I can see her now, pulling it out of oven and pouring the icing over it, setting it out with a stack of plates that probably didn’t match and some forks just ready for whoever showed up.