Submission overabundant: Buttermilk chocolate cake and the new snacks of the week

The OPB “They abound» explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To fill you up between episodes, Portland-based culinary historian, food writer, and environmentalist Heather Arndt Anderson highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week, in honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, she’s sharing a recipe for buttermilk chocolate cake with ganache frosting.

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January is the Monday morning of the calendar year, and so far it’s been crazy. But here we are at the other end of the tunnel. We survived the catastrophic icing (and the fun bonus of a week of unplanned winter vacation with the kids). We’ve been through COVID, RSV, the flu, and Drynuary and emerged victorious, our minds (if not our roof) mostly intact. Let’s have some cake on this. Fortunately, Saturday, January 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day, and may it deliver us all from the adversity that 2024 has thus brought. The late civic leader and Oregon Premier Gerry Frank loved chocolate cake – he loved it so much, in fact, that he judged the Oregon State Fair’s chocolate layer cake competition for 60 years. Do you know how he got this job? Keep reading to find out!

Wildfire Whiskey, Farm Footprints, Clam Farming, Apple Advances and Good Things at the Markets

Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (to use another language), an Oregon winemaker is taking smoke-contaminated wine and turning it into brandy to blend into a complex, limited-edition whiskey. Gary Allen of your Oregon News has the story.

A new study released by the University of Michigan reveals that urban agriculture may not be the sustainable solution we think it is. According to the study, the carbon footprint of food produced on urban farms is six times that of conventional farms. (Don’t worry, your garden tomatoes and other greenhouse-grown crops seem absolved.)

Our friends at Cascade PBS have a new video in their fantastic series “Human Elements,” about how the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community of Washington is working to rebuild their ancestral clam gardens in the Salish Sea. Watch it here.

A new apple released by Washington State University – the first since the Cosmic Crisp – could be destined for the cider press. The Capital Press reports that the new variety, WA 64, could be licensed directly to America’s largest independent cidery, Corvallis-based 2 Towns. Although currently only available under commercial license, the apple is expected to be commercially available in 2029.

Last week, while we were all confined to our homes (if we were lucky enough to have electricity, pipes intact, and a tree-free roof), stored winter produce served as the basis for many meals. They weren’t glamorous meals, but they were hearty, satisfying, and aptly Alpine-biased: crispy potato pancakes, a foot in diameter, studded with lardons of paprika seeds and slathered with compote of sweet and sour apples; a sauerkraut garnished with frankfurter sausages, bacon, sauerkraut, onions and more potatoes; sauerbraten meatballs with rye spaetzle and brown gravy.

Once it was safe to move outside, we always found ourselves drawn to earthly comforts like za’atar-roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with tahini and pine cone syrup (this which seems sophisticated but almost gratuitous, made from the green cones harvested from the shore). pines last summer). It’s warmed up considerably, but we’re still craving robust greens braised and drizzled with chili vinegar. There was a rice and broccoli casserole topped with sharp cheddar and buttered breadcrumbs.

This week we look at the rainbow of winter radishes: some with rough, black skin, turning sweet when roasted, others in watermelon cosplay, white and green skin hiding a vibrant magenta core . We still eat radicchio salads in all shades of pink.

Recipe: Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting

A rich chocolate and buttermilk layer cake with ganache frosting

A rich chocolate and buttermilk layer cake with ganache frosting

Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB

Among the myriad hats he wore, Gerry Frank was a self-confessed chocolate lover. (He was perhaps best known as the great-nephew of department store founder Meier & Frank or for his tenure as Gov. Mark Hatfield’s chief of staff, but here we honor his chocoholism.) Before his death in En 2022, at the age of 98, Frank served as a judge for the Oregon State Fair’s famous Gerry Frank Chocolate Layer Cake Competition, a title he held for 60 years. In fact, the only reason he agreed to work on Hatfield’s 1958 campaign was because he was promised a nice job if Hatfield won. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

According to The Oregonian’s coverage of a celebrity bake-off hosted by the Oregon Historical Society for the 150th anniversary of the Oregon State Fair in 2015, Frank’s idea for a tier cake Chocolate Winner is attractive, moist and rich, and preferably made with dark chocolate. . Although OPB CEO Steve Bass was among the celebrities in the running, the top honor went to Portland’s first lady, Nancy Hales, whose victory was marred by the revelation that the cake didn’t had been prepared not by Hales, but by none other than Sarah Iannarone (then a professional baker/cafe owner before her run for Portland mayor in 2020). We did a little digging, though, and one thing the corrupted cake had in common with the reputed winning cake from the 2023 Oregon State Fair is a ganache topping. We added this touch to make it a chocolate cake worthy of a national holiday. For 12 people.

Note: Powdered buttermilk is a pantry staple in the “abundant” kitchen – it’s great for baking, of course, but it’s also great for making powdered ranch dressing, which we love to sprinkle on pop -corn and fries. If you prefer, omit the powdered buttermilk and use liquid buttermilk instead of regular milk. Either way, have all the ingredients at room temperature before you begin.

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour, leveled

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder

¼ buttermilk powder (see note)

1 ¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of fine sea salt

1 cup of whole milk

1 cup of strong coffee (instant is good)

½ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (look for 50-60% cocoa), finely chopped

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

  1. Preheat to 350º (with rack in middle position). Butter two 8″ or 9″ cake pans and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl (or in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whisk together the milk, coffee, vanilla, oil and eggs until well combined. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients, mixing until well combined. (The batter will be runny.)
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Run a thin knife along the edge of the cake, then turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack (remove the baking paper) and leave to cool completely.
  4. While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting by heating the cream until boiling, then stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Stir in the butter a little at a time until it is melted and the ganache is smooth, then cover and refrigerate the ganache until firm enough to spread. Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the frosting until silky (but not so much that it becomes grainy).
  5. Place a dollop of frosting on a cake serving plate to hold the cake steady while frosting, then place one of the layers on the plate, rounded side up. Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake – use the frosting to make the top as flat as possible, then place the second cake on top, domed side down (this will make a nice flat top for the finished product). Frost the top and sides of the second layer until the ganache is completely used up, smoothing the sides for a seamless cake. Store leftovers in the refrigerator with a piece of wax paper to cover the cut sides.

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