Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chocolate Cake in Olive Country

My main service as a cross-cultural worker in Turkey is probably cooking.  I cook for my family. I cook for other workers. I cook for our church meetings. I cook for Turkish visitors. Fortunately for me, I enjoy cooking.

Hospitality is important here. This is a chocolate cake recipe that has saved my life countless times in twelve years here. When Turkish women friends come over for tea, it’s customary to serve at least one tatlı (sweet) and one tuzlu (salty). Turks often serve more, but this homeschooling mom sticks to the bare minimum. I know this recipe by heart and can whip it up and throw it in the oven after school for afternoon guests.

The best part is that Turks seem to like it. It’s not always easy to find recipes that “translate” since tastes here are different. When my kids were younger, Black Magic Cake was our default cake for birthday parties, and several Turkish neighbors asked if I’d bake this cake for their kids’ birthdays too.

Black Magic Cake for a girl's 11th birthday.
Couldn't find birthday candles anywhere that year!

Black Magic Cake

Sift together:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

Then add and mix:

2 eggs
1 cup black coffee (or one cup of water and 1 heaping tsp. instant coffee)
1 cup milk
½ cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla (or two packets vanilla granules)

Pour into a greased and floured 11 x 15” cake pan.  Bake at 350-375 *F for 30 minutes.  This cake turns out perfect every time.

American Style Butter cream Icing

Beat the following until smooth:

1 lb. powdered sugar (450 g)
½ cup butter
5-6 TBSP milk
1 tsp. vanilla

To frost the top of a sheet cake, I cut this recipe in half. Turks don’t like our sweet American icings, so a thin layer is best.

Alternate icing if you live in Turkey:

1 packet of Krem Şanti
1 packet Dr. Oetker Krem Ole instant pudding
1 ½ - 2 cups cold milk.

Beat until it reaches the desired consistency. Use 1 ½ cups milk and gradually add more if the icing is too thick.

Do you have a favorite, “go-to” cake that turns out perfect every time? What is your experience baking for local people where you live? Do they have different tastes?


Michele said...

That one big red candle got me to smiling this morning!

My big thing cake that everyone wants is coffee cake with powdered sugar dripped icing on top. I make it for retreats and even gifts.

I usually use a regular vanilla cake mix with an extra egg and real butter for the base and then just have to mix up the streusel part!

OliveTree said...

That's sounds delicious, Michele! Interestingly the coffee cakes I've made (with streusel topping) don't go over that well here... I might try your coffee cake for me though!

us5 said...

this sounds yummy! i'm adding it to my stack of recipes to try. :) i just made a big chocolate cake for a friend's birthday last night; my default birthday cake is always the one i got off the Hershey Cocoa tin years's yummy too! (if i can just keep the ants out of our cocoa...);)

Choate Family said...

We've found that our friends in the village love banana bread. I have a recipe that is eggless, so they can get most of the ingredients (if I provide the baking soda). I also hear a lot of, "Would you make a birthday cake for...?"

I love that one of your gifts is cooking :-)

OliveTree said...

Barbara, I think I've made that Hershey Cocoa cake too. It was good, and Choate Family, I haven't made banana bread in years because they're so expensive here, but Turks loved it, I remember!

Ellie said...

I found that our people like applesauce cake. It is not super sweet, and it is full of nuts and raisins, so it goes well. I never ice it, but simply sprinkle powdered sugar over it. Because it bakes in a bundt pan, it is really pretty anyway.

The other one that they will eat is pound cake. Sometimes I add lemon zest and lemon juice or almond flavor to that, but pound cake is one of the cakes they like, but they buy since few know how to bake. You can also wrap and freeze pound cakes, so they are good for emergencies.

OliveTree said...

Wow, I'd love to try your applesauce cake. Here people like pound cake too. :-)

Annmarie Pipa said...

your cakes look and sound delicious! so interesting to see a Turkish recipe for icing!! My son is having a birthday party this weekend and I will make 2 all vanilla and one chocolate with peanut butter icing..YUM!!!

Phyllis said...

I haven't had much trouble with people not liking what I bake. It is other foods that I've had to learn to make more appealingly. :-)

I'm going to try your cake recipe next time I have a good occasion for it. I do have a "go-to" icing recipe. After years of agonizing over trying to make frosting without powdered sugar, I finally found the Pioneer Woman's recipe with flour in it. It's incredibly good and so easy!

OliveTree said...

Phyllis, I've used a frosting with flour too (one you cook), but I'm going to check Pioneer Woman's site for hers. Her recipes are so great!