Scrumptious Chocolate Cake

A few posts ago, I promised you my chocolate cake recipe (or “receipt,” as it was known in Great Britain in Jane Austen’s time).  I’ve had this recipe for years, as you can tell by the condition of the recipe I tore from a magazine umpteen years ago.  This cake is simply scrumptious, and I’ve made it dozens of times.

I hope my British friends won’t balk at the mention of “Hershey’s.”  It seems many Brits regard American Hershey bars as something less than true chocolate, and I have to say that I agree.  I love chocolate, but I don’t like Hershey bars.  They seemed better when I was a youngster, but nowadays I think the makers have cut too many corners.  No matter; the company’s cocoa remains first rate, and you can use it or any other for this recipe successfully.

I like this cake served with a nice, tall glass of cold milk.  Silk brand is my favorite (vanilla flavor–yum!), as I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years.  The cake is also great with tea.  Earl Grey is a spectacular pairing, with its hints of bergamot, or orange blending nicely with the chocolate.

Here’s the recipe.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

2 cups (473 ml) of plain, white, granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (414 ml)  of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (177) of cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 ml)  of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon (7.5 ml) of baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of salt
2 eggs
1 cup (236 ml) of milk or soy milk (I like Silk brand.)
1/2 cup (118 ml) of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons (10 ml)of vanilla extract
1 cup  (236 ml) of boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
Grease and flour two 9″ (23 cm) baking pans.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
Beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Do not over-beat.
Stir in boiling water.  Do not beat in.  Batter will be quite watery.  This is normal.
Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes.
Remove cake from pans and cool completely.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

1 stick (118 ml) butter or margarine or 1/4 cup (59 ml) + 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil.
2/3 cup (157 ml) of cocoa powder
3 cups (709 ml) of powdered confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup (79 ml) of milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract

Melt the butter, margarine, or oil.
Stir in the cocoa powder.
Beat at medium speed, adding sugar and milk, alternating, as you go.
Add vanilla and beat in.
Add more milk and beat, if needed to bring frosting to spreading consistency.

 

Regencyisms

Regencyisms

Ah the things a Regency romance novelist’s children say!  

I was making a snack for them when it happened the first time.  Saltines with tuna salad and a sliver of cheese, which I’d popped into the microwave for a few seconds in order to render the cheese all melty and gooey–except that I’d not put them in for 20 seconds but for 200!  They were past gooey and closer to molten.

“Oh la!” my eldest child cried upon discovering my mistake.  She’d said it without thinking about it.  When I explained that oh la isn’t a contemporary interjection these days, we had a lovely chuckle over it, and the term “Regencyism” was born.

Later, I was baking.  “Oh la, mama!” she cried. “I believe you have burnt the cookies!”  She was wearing an impish grin, completely aware this time that “Oh la!” wasn’t something any modern lady would say, much less a seven-year-old.  She’d thrown down a gauntlet, and her little sister, just four, gleefully picked it up.  “Oh LA!” they both exclaimed through their giggles every few minutes for the rest of the day.

But other “Regencyisms,” as we’ve continued to call them, have crept into our family lexicon unnoticed–not surprising really, as I’ve been writing Regency romances since before my children were born, and they can quote much of the dialogue from both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  These Regencyisms have become so normal a part of our lives that we usually don’t notice using them.  Every once in a while one will occur to me, and I’ll say something like, “You know, most people say, ‘engaged,’ not ‘betrothed.'” Or some such.  To which the reply is always a shocked, “Really!? That’s a Regencyism?”

Every one of the Regency-era words and phrases in the graphic above are words my children and I have used un-ironically over the years–a list that was surprisingly difficult to recall.  A few moments ago, I asked my child Julie Rain, “Can you think of any other Regencyisms we’ve adopted in our everyday speech?” 

She thought for a moment before answering, “I have not a clue,” then laughed and pointed out that “I have not a ____” is itself a Regency-esque construction.  

My children have had a lot of fun with Regency-speak over the years.  A couple of weeks ago, Julie Rain shared with me the following delight.  It’s a parodic translation (displayed in red, below) of a portion of a modern-day song, Hotline Bling, by Drake (displayed in black, below). The original has been simplified a little for clarity’s sake:

Hotline Bling

 … or …

The Post’s Arrival

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love.

You used to write me, pen and parchment
in the eve, when you mourn my affections.

And I know when that hotline bling,
That can only mean one thing

Post is what the servant brings.
It could only be one thing.

Ever since I left the city,
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out

After I departed London, you
Garnered quite the reputation I hear.
I find myself alone in hearing last, dear.

Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out.

I find myself dismayed, waiting just to hear.

‘Cause ever since I left the city,
you started wearing less and goin’ out more.

After I departed London
you started wearing frocks that do reveal more.

Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor.

Rumors of syllabub, that sound like lore.

Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before.

Your company, companions unacquainted with myself.

Fun, eh? 🙂

Julie wants to know what song would you like her to “translate” next!  Click on “Leave a comment,” below. 

Who Is Kat?

Kat is my first-reader.  My editor.  My proofreader.  She was my co-author on NOT A LADY, back in 2013, writing fully half of that novel.  And she will be co-authoring the remaining books of the REGENCY MATCHMAKER SERIES with me.

She also happens to be my daughter.

Kat is currently 22 and his been writing for 2 decades.  No, really.  She’s truly extraordinary with language, and she always has been.  She said her ABC’s at 10 months.  She taught herself to read at 2, and she wrote her first story just before she turned 3.  She began college at 13 and won the Stephen Caldwell Wright Poetry Award, given by Seminole State College of Florida, when she was just 16, competing against adults.  That year, she also won a 3rd place spot in the Flash Fiction category in SSC’s Veritas Awards. And, though I cannot divulge the name under which she publishes fan fiction, I can tell you that she is prolific and her stories there are legendary.

In short, she’s one hell of a good writer.

Kat is also a talented freelance illustrator, having completed several dozen commissions so far this year alone. She has well over 6000 followers on Tumblr, where she posts much of her art.  I create all of my own book covers, and Kat is an invaluable critical voice in that process.

As it turns out, Kat and I write extremely well together.  We’re very much alike, we use language very similarly, and our writing styles, though different, are compatible.  As we do with everything else, we have a great time writing together, and the result is absolutely seamless. You absolutely cannot tell where my writing ends and hers begins. Even we forget, after awhile, who wrote what. Not that it matters, I suppose.  What matters is the result, and readers love our combined voice.  We’ll be re-issuing NOT A LADY later this year and writing a sequel to it, NOT A GENTLEMAN, which is shaping out to be a personal favorite of mine.

She’s an amazing and good person, and we’re the best of friends.  Seriously.  We have a great time together, and even if she weren’t my daughter, I would still want to be her friend.  She’s funny and wise and socially conscious and honest and sweet. I’m proud of her and grateful to her.  For so many things.

So, that’s who Kat is.