07 March 2010

Mud Season! Looks Like Chocolate To Me!

Up here in the New England boondocks we have mixed feelings about 'mud season'. For a few weeks in March and April, any Yankee living on a dirt road knows they better have a well-stocked larder, propane or oil in the tank, and a stack of books from the library or bookstore to keep them occupied for that time when the frost goes out of the gound, the snow melts fast, and the mire of mud on the roads quickly becomes a thing of mucky, sucky, yucky wonder. Yup, 'mud season' can be a real pain in the neck, but... it heralds Spring, and that means bringing gardens back from the dead, the first crocuses and daffodils, forsythia and pussywillows!

When my kids were young, they took great delight in stomping the length of the driveway near the back door that became trampoline-like for a short time just before the frost left the ground. They would jump up and down until suddenly, their boots would be sucked into the muck and they were stuck . I could look out the kitchen window and see that look of delicious panic that they loved to feel for those few seconds when they realized that they didn't have the strength to pull their boots free. Unless they walked out of their boots and back to the house in their socks, they could be standing there slowly sinking into the mud! Horrors! Squeals! What a riot to watch! Kids stuck in chocolate-like muck! Speaking of chocolate... mud season puts me in the mood for a chocolate cake with what else? A muddy-looking peanut butter frosting!  Chocolate icing would be equally muddy-looking, but I have a hankering for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and this is as close as I'll get with the things I have in my pantry. Yup, I know... lame, but one must take one's inspiration where one finds it ...

Food Memory:  I always get a giggly kind of feeling when I break the eggs and 'beat until fluffy' ... it's amazing to see the sugar and eggs change their form before my eyes and at the mercy of the beaters! And then... before you know it, you have a frothy batter that becomes... a cake!

A Simple Chocolate Cake

Oven: 350º F
Bake time: 30-35 minutes


2 c. cake flour
2/3 c. good quality baking cocoa
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 2/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
11/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. commercial mayonnaise (Hellman’s all the way, baby!)
1 1/3 c. water

Making the Cake:

1. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans.

2. Mix with a whisk and set aside – flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder

3. In a large mixing bowl, whip sugar, vanilla, and eggs until fluffy.

4. Add the mayonnaise at low speed.

5. Add some flour mix, water, flour mix, water – beat in between at low speed to blend well.

6. Turn the batter into the pans and bake.

7. When a cake tester comes clean, remove and cool for ten minutes.

8. Invert pans and place cakes on cooling racks.

9. Ice with your favorite icing… eat a slice with a big glass of cold milk!

Peanut Butter Frosting

Whip in a mixing bowl:

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp. milk
2 c. confectioner’s sugar

When making the frosting, start by whipping the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until completely smooth and incorporated. Then, begin adding the sugar and milk, alternating until all the sugar has been added and the consistency is completely smooth and creamy.

This icing will firm up if cake is refrigerated. If you plan to decorate the cake, firm up the initial layer so that your decorations remain ‘right up top’ where you want them.

I’ve also heard of this frosting being made with Nutella instead of peanut butter. The cake is then sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts or Heath Bar Crunch bits.


  1. Wow, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting! I'm in love! And a cake made with mayonnaise? I've never heard of such a thing! I bet it's good though cause I love Hellman's. The mayo here is gross! It tastes like sweet yoghurt, not like eggs. I should learn how to make my own. Ever done it?

  2. Susan @ Lizzy8/3/10 10:51 AM

    This cake is very moist, Lizzy. Probably due to the oil in the mayo... and no, I haven't tried to make my own mayonnaise. It's funny; the tapas cookbooks that I have include recipes in which you make your own mayo to add to the overall recipe. I really should try it sometime to see if Hellman's can be improved upon. I really hope you try this cake. You are such a chocolate freak that I think you'll totally love it!

  3. I had never heard of a cake made with mayo until the one I posted on Monday. But it was a delicious cake, so I won't be scared in the future.

    I love the image of your kids being stuck in the mud. I can almost hear them squealing.


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