Book Club SpreadMy sorority alumna group has a book club, and I’d volunteered ages ago to host in October. Today was the day. We read Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, but actually only 2 of the 8 women at book club read the book. This was another example of me realizing that September is a bad month to expect to do things like read books for book club. I had a single-minded focus on school, so everything else just took a backseat.

Book Club CakeBut I have to say, I’m really happy with the spread I put out. Cake, apples and caramel, chips and sour cream salsa, cheese and pepperoni with crackers. And I absolutely stole Maggie’s Christmas in July idea of a decorate your own cookie station. I cheated on the cookies and used one of those Pillsbury ready-to-bake packages when I ran out of time, and they were a hit. I made the vanilla frosting but not the chocolate. I went with a blue/tan/brown color scheme, and I hung the card catalog fabric I had made from Spoonflower last fall.

book club cake pre-letteringMy handwriting on cakes is as bad as it is in real life, but I still like my book club cake. I made a chocolate cake in a loaf pan, trimmed it all around, then covered it with a layer of vanilla frosting. I put it in the fridge overnight, then I covered the “spine” and “front cover” with chocolate frosting (ready made) so it would look like a book. I piped more chocolate frosting all around the bottom edge to look like the back cover of the book. I put “BFF” on the spine since that’s the abbreviation for our book’s title. The lettering is sloppy, but the cake still went over really well.

I didn’t go with the Devil’s Food Cake today, since it takes kind of a while to make. Here are the cake recipes, with my changes:

Pantry Chocolate Cake (from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1.5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil so it looks like a sling.

foil sling

Whisk the cocoa and boiling water in a small bowl. Let the mixture cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, egg, vanilla, and cooled cocoa mixture.

pantry cake cocoa mixture

Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture a bit at a time.

pantry cake add flour

Give the batter a final stir and scrape it into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove bubbles. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan, 1-2 hours. Use the foil “sling” to remove cake from pan.

pantry chocolate cake

Vanilla Frosting (from ATK Family Baking Book)
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Beat the butter, cream, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium-high speed 1-2 minutes, until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly add the sugar. Beat until incorporated, 4-6 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5-10 minutes.

vanilla frosting