I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a good chocolate cake but a double dark chocolate cake is even more special. My post the other day about blueberry muffins and a story about my mother brought back a flood of memories about growing up in a small rural town. This cake comes from Maine too.
Maybe your town or region has its own phrases but there are many I grew up with that I’ve never heard anywhere else. Some people live in the boonies, back of beyond, etc., but my friends who lived quite a drive out of town were said to live out in the puckerbrush. I have no idea what a puckerbrush is but it’s obviously something that only grows quite a distance from town.
The iconic word for a downeaster is the word ‘ayuh’. It’s hard to describe how that’s pronounced. It’s got a long a and the rest of it comes from the back of your throat. Some of the old timers said the word as they breathed in saying it 3 times. It’s what Mainers say as yes or affirmative or what to say when you can’t think of anything else to say or simply an acknowledgement that you’ve heard what the other person has said.
When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term ‘Down East.’ And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going ‘up to Boston,’ despite the fact that the city is about 50 miles to the south of Maine’s southern border.
Many of the phrases everyone used were politically incorrect but those needn’t be listed. Sometimes when we were staying at the cottage on the coast it was ‘so foggy, I stuck out my arm and couldn’t see my thumb’. If we were really tough we were ‘tougher than a bag of hammers’. If we were slow we were ‘slower than the second coming of Christ’. If my father got angry or hurt himself it was ‘jumpin judas on a rock’.
If it was really dark it was ‘blacker than the inside of a cow’. I can still remember my father saying, ‘Bet that went over like a faht (fart) in church.’
I think only in Maine you’ll find the word dooryard. It’s the yard at the front door of a house. You step out into the dooryard when you leave.
Want directions? ‘You hook a right at the corner and go down the road a piece’.
I had an uncle who was fond of saying, “For the love of Mike, he was so hyper he was like a fart in a skillet.” He also used the very common Maine phrase and the motto of most Maine families, “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.”
When my brother’s ears were dirty, my mother would say he ‘could grow potatoes in those ears.’ Things were never ordinary type good, in Maine things are wicked good. Wicked all by itself is still evil but wicked followed by good – that’s Maine.
My aunt Leonie, if she didn’t know the answer always said, ‘hard tellin, not knowin.’ Remember that in Maine the letter r doesn’t really exist. The word is hahd. Our neighbor always went ‘Upta camp’ when they went to their cottage at the lake.
Here’s a video by Tim Sample that makes me laugh. It makes me laugh because it’s so true. You need to watch it til the end but it’s only 2:54 long.
This is a cake my mother would bake to take down to the cottage at Ocean Point. We’d go to the shore (showah) for a lobster (lobstah) and clambake with friends and after everyone was ready to pop, my mother would bring out this wonderful cake. I loved it and I loved it even more that she brought it to the clambakes because everyone was always too full for dessert and we’d get to take it home.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - the good stuff
- 1 cup hot coffee
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 2 cups chocolate, finely chopped (or use chocolate chips)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup (you can leave this out)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- Grease two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans or one 9-inch pan and line the bottom with baking paper. Grease the paper as well and dust with flour. Tap out any excess flour.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed.
- In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
- Slowly add the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly add the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
- Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool.
- Peel off the parchment.
- In a glass bowl add chocolate and cream. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Heat again for 10 seconds.
- Add corn syrup and whisk until smooth.
- Place cake on serving dish and spoon over warm ganache. I usually put a thin layer and put the cake in the fridge and then re-apply the ganache so it's extra thick. Doing it in one go means most of it lands on the plate.
I promise, this is my last Maine post for a while.