Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vanilla Mess Cake in a Crock-Pot

This cake has a very intense vanilla flavor, and the texture is incredibly moist and dense, almost like a cheesecake. The edges brown up like a thick soft crust - really delicious. And the only messy part is the top - which is really just a little “unsmooth”.

* White or Yellow Cake Mix - 1 package
* Sour Cream - 16 oz.
* Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix - 1 package
* Canola Oil - 3/4 cup
* Water - 1 cup
* Eggs - 4

1. Spray or rub the Crock-Pot with oil.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend thoroughly with a large wooden spoon.

3. Pour the vanilla mixture into the Crock-Pot and turn on to Low.

4. Place 4-8 paper towels (or 1 thick kitchen towel) on top and cover with the lid.

5. Cook for 4 hours and check for done-ness by looking at the sides of the cake, which should be browning and separating from the sides of the pot. The top should be moist but firm-looking. You can also insert a knife or long skewer but it will always be a bit moist. If the top still looks gooey and the sides are still really light, it needs to cook some more.

6. Let it cook for another half an hour and check again. I use an old 3 1/2 quart cylindrical Crock-Pot and the cooking time was 5 hours. The first Crock-Pot cake you make will require a bit of checking but once you have determined the timing on one cake, future cakes will be more predictable and easier (see below for more information on how to tell if your cake is done.)

7. Cool for at least a half an hour or more. The cake stays warm for a long time.

8. When you can’t wait anymore, slide a dinner knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pot.

9. Center a serving plate on top of the pot and flip it over so that the cake falls onto the plate. You may need to jiggle it a bit, and when it has come out, slowly lift up the Crock-Pot.
10. Your wonderful cake is ready!

The top wasn’t perfectly smooth so if you are serving guests you may want to sprinkle it with something like chopped nuts. sprinkles or a drizzled thin frosting (but the taste is so intense and rich, you don’t need much of anything).

About determining if your cake is done: Crock-Pots are inherently moist cookers and so the top will always be much moister that a typical oven-baked cake. But, the top will be the bottom once you flip it, so it doesn’t have to look perfect. And, the knife will probably never come out bone-dry, because Crock-Pot cakes are very moist. It’s important to make sure the sides don’t overcook, so doneness will be a combination of the middle being fairly dry and the side being well done but not over-cooked. Even if your cake is a little messy in the middle, it will still be delicious.

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