for the last three months of my mom’s pregnancy with eliza, she had to stay on total bedrest. i was 4, and remember this as one of the most fun times of my entire life. for her, completely confined to bed, probably not so much. but for me, it was a total blast- like having a round the clock playdate who literally couldn’t get up and leave. i distinctly remember how grown up i felt, having to fetch my lunch for myself each day. of course all this really entailed was searching on tippy toes for the already-made sandwiches and little ziplock bags of cheese and apples that my dad had left for me in the fridge each morning before he went to work. regardless, i felt totally self-sufficient and grown up, pulling out my lunch all by myself. i also remember playing polly pockets in bed with my mom. lots and LOTS of polly pockets. the 90’s had the best toys. i mean, how can they ever top polly pockets, pogs, and lisa frank? i really don’t think they can.
just about every night during those three months our dinner would be delivered to our doorstep by one of our neighbors, who all tooks turns bringing us food each night. the hlady’s, our next door neighbors, brought us a chocolate cake one night, which ended up being the absolute best cake ever, and is now our go-to recipe for any time cake or cupcakes are needed. the hlady’s would sometimes babysit me at their house on certain days, so that i could get out of the house occasionally, and going to their house was always a treat that i’d look forward to. one of the daughters in the family was a ballet dancer, and she would let me try on her old pointe shoes, which i do believe is partly why i ended up being a dancer. i remember her dumping out an entire trash bag FULL of old pointe shoes, and letting me shuffle around the house with the much-too-big shoes, the satin ribbons tied several times around my tiny ankles to hold them on, and although she wouldn’t let me go up on pointe, as i was only 4, i still felt like a prima ballerina. after i’d pranced and twirled to my heart’s content, we’d head to the kitcken, and whip up a batch up cupcakes with this recipe, and i would always be allowed to sprinkle on the sprinkles, as many as i wanted. those days always felt magical somehow.
long story short, this is the best cake. there’s a reason it’s stuck in my memory so clearly for 16 years. go make it!
Note: this is the vegan-ified version, which we adapted this year so that eliza could eat them now that she’s on her new dairy-free (doctor ordered) diet. they’re every bit as good, which just goes to show how adaptable and delicious this recipe is. vegan or not, give it a try.
Linda Hlady’s Chocolate Cake (or in this case, cupcakes.)
1 2/3 cup flour
1 ½ cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cup buttermilk (you can use regular milk, and add about 1 tbsp. of regular vinegar to it, or in this case, UNsweetened soy milk.)
½ cup shortening
* yes i realize eggs aren’t vegan. for hardcore vegans, i’m sure there’s a way to replace these with something else. if we’re getting technical, these are really “dairy-free” cupcakes.
1 tsp. vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350. Cream the shortening, sugar, vanilla and eggs until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat well with the mixer. Pour into greased and floured cake pans, or muffin tins for cupcakes, and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Vegan Buttercream Frosting
1 package powdered sugar (16 ounces)
6 tablespoons earth balance soy butter (room temperature)
3 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk, more or less
1 teaspoon vanilla
Using a beater, mix the sugar, butter, and vanilla. Add the milk a little at a time until it’s the right consistency for spreading. You can add a little more (or less) if you need to. Add food coloring if you want – one drop at a time