Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S.F. Bay Area Shakes It Up, Cal's Quake Cake Rx

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Last month the West Coast was getting slammed with snow and rain. This month we're getting our share of earthquakes at San Juan Bautista, Central California and people are reporting feeling the tremors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area--my home. I still have an uncanny connection to my roots, San Jose, where I grew up and went to SFSU. (I even took an earthquake class and on a field trip we visited San Juan Bautista). Before and after I survived the 6.2 Morgan Hill temblor while living in Santa Cruz Mountains; and the Loma Prieta 15 second shaker that rocked my San Carlos bungalow on the peninsula--and thousands of people--in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.
Actually, the earthquakes south of the South Bay are no surprise to me (or to my fellow quake sensitives at Earthquakeepi-center forums--both two-leggers and four-leggers are on top of the seismic activity). On the radio and in print media--I predicted this may happen in 2011. Sure, in the past week, a 4.1 (epi at Seven Trees, north of San Juan Bautista), a 4.5, 3.7, and 3.9 and a bunch of smaller shakers are not a 6.0 (as I forecasted in Oracle 20/20 Magazine, January issue; page 23, Earth Changes column)--but the year is still young.
As a native Californian earthquakes are nothing new to me. And back in April 2008, Gemma Sciabica, olive oil guru and cookbook author, whipped up an Earthquake Cake for me (and she sent me chocolate biscotti) so I could deal with our hundreds of quakes here in the Reno-Tahoe region. Caveat: Dark chocolate can help soothe rattled nerves and high anxiety when Mother Nature makes moves. Chocolate (in many forms) is the 21st century nature's finest remedy for coping with earthquakes. (It used to be popcorn.)
So, I'd like to share Gemma's recipe--straight from my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010)--purchased by the Good Cook Book Club, One Spirit Book Club, Crafters, Mystery Guild, and translated in three languages so far.

* * *
Cal's Earthquake Cake
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup dark cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Sciabica's or Marsala Olive Oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon Danish pastry extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raspberry-creame filled chocolate squares (chop)
1 large banana, mashed

Cheese Filling

1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well or use cooking spray in a 10-inch bundt tube pan. In mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients together, make well in center. Pour in buttermilk, olive oil, eggs, and flavorings. Stir until smooth. Add chocolate pieces. Pour half the cake batter into prepared pan. Spoon the filling mixture evenly over the layer of batter. Carefully pour second half of batter over the filling. Bake 55 or 60 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center. Cool cake on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before glazing. Glaze as desired, or, may be sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Serves 12.

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