My friend Bill’s daughter, who is a good cook in her own right, naturally, gave me this compendium of compendiums on cake recipes. It covers the world. In my opinion, there are way too many cakes in this book. It would take me an entire lifetime to make all of them.
The book is aptly titled “A World of Cakes 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions From Cultures Near and Far.” (You get the picture.) By Krystina Castella. The book has the history of cakes with beautiful tempting photos, which I paged through that initial evening for an hour and half devouring everything I could with my eyes. (A little overexcited, to say the least.)
For Sunday dinner, I contributed the Devil’s Food Cupcake and Cake from the ” A World of Cakes” book’s recipe. I made a dozen cupcakes and realized that I had enough batter left for a cake round.
Devil’s Food Cake Recipe
Makes two 8” rounds (I think it would make 24 cupcakes)
1 cup of water
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, broken up
2¼ cups of cake flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter softened
1½ cups dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
Assemblage – Directions
I assembled all the ingredients for the Devil’s Food Cupcakes last week. Today hunted for the cupcake paper cups, which turned into an inventory of two small cabinets. They were unearthed from behind the herbs and spices, where I had carefully buried them for just such a project. (There you are!)
Okay. I did what the book instructed, but not in quite the same order.
Take the eggs out of the fridge. (I knew that, but forgot to do that.)
Here’s the order. Measured all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. The recipe neglected to say sift dry ingredients, but that would have been a good idea in hindsight. I whisked them together.
Then I boiled the one-cup of water. Once it was boiling I added the chocolate and stirred with my little whisk every so often. The heavy enamel pan I used can be set at a low fire. The chocolate doesn’t burn.
While the chocolate was slowly melting, I creamed the butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Took the melted chocolate off the fire to cool. The pan stayed warm. Solution: Set the pan in cold water and ice to cool. It worked very quickly. (Always be ready to improvise.)
By hand, stirred in the chocolate to the fluffy butter and sugar in the big bowl. Then added the three eggs beating the batter with a mixer after each additional egg. Final steps: I stirred in the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk. I did not use the electric mixer at this stage.
I preheated the oven at 350 degrees. Dropped the batter into the 12 paper cups in the pan. Baked at 350 degrees F (175C) for 15 to 20 minutes until they sprang back in the middle.
I had to look up the amount of time for baking the cupcakes online. The recipe neglected that detail. I filled an 8” round with the rest of the batter. The time to bake two rounds is 18-25 minutes. Test for doneness with the “knife in the center that comes out clean”. I used my finger and the cake bounced back to the touch.
I should have filled the paper cups two-thirds full. I filled the cups to the top and the flowed over. (Did I not say that an amateur is baking?)
Okay, they call to be eaten. Oh my! I can’t stand them. They are light fluffy devilishly De-licious Devil’s Food Cupcakes, even if I did make them myself.
Next installment: The Icing-Frosting (Page 315) 
Cocoa Icing Recipe
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3½ cups Confectioner’s sifted confectioners sugar
¾ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Makes about 4 cups
“Melt the butter in a double boiler – use medium high heat.”(Page 315) I used my heavy enamel pan on a lower heat. Then added the cocoa powder and stirred. It was glob-like, but I kept stirring until it combined. Directed to mix in the confectioners sugar alternated with milk, I started with the milk to smooth out the glob. Next proceeded with sugar/milk until all was combined. It was soupy. (Uh Oh.)
There it was the last bit of direction: “…add more milk or sugar as necessary to achieve a thin, but spreadable consistency.” (Page 315) (Huh? What? How? Is this not a contradiction of terms? This means I need more confectioners’ sugar, surely? It’s not sifted! Argh. Once again, improvise.)
I added a little more sugar – half a cup or so. (Should have sifted) Took it off the fire; added the vanilla. Poured it out of the enamel pan into a small metal mixing bowl to cool. Dipped the cupcakes into the soup and let them drip. I drizzled the batter by spoonfuls on top of the cooled cake and let it set. Then drizzled some random splashes of icing on top of that. There was a lot of frosting left.
Now I know why bakers are magicians. Every time I try out baking, I have renewed respect for the bakers’ art. It takes a lot of practice and know-how to make these things. Frosting (icing) is an art in itself. (Time to clean up the mess.)
Everyone liked the cupcakes! We had a good meal of Mexi-Indo spiced shredded chicken with rice served with naan, adapted and made by the framily physicist, who made a “black hole” in one of the cupcakes. He ate two of them.
 Castella, Krystina; “A World of Cake”; Storey Publishing; 210 Mass MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247; 2010.