…and other things.
I’m not much of a dessert person but I’ve always loved cakes. Back when I was a teenager, and to some degree even now, baking cakes isn’t a tradition in India because most people don’t have large ovens in their kitchens. Back then, it was even more uncommon. My aunt was a pioneer baker at such a time and possessed a small, round, countertop convection oven that she used for baking her kids’ birthday cakes and special occasion desserts. She’d save the edges for me, and sometimes even baked me a special cake if she knew we were visiting. What a treat a simple chocolate cake was in those days!
Somehow I have never had much success with baking cakes. I’ve tried a few times, ending up mostly with a fallen, dense, broken piece of chocolate Styrofoam, and given up. After all, who wants to keep doing something they’re no good at, right?
Trawling chowhound.com one day, I came across a post that mentioned The Cake Bible, a book that promises to be the nemesis of those feelings of culinary inadequacy experienced after baking a cake that will guiltily be trashed after a couple days of being carted to the table and back unconsumed. Honestly? It might very well be! This is my first tried recipe from it but it turned out so perfect that I might try another one. At the end of each recipe the author explains the process that went into it (cake flour vs AP, granulated sugar vs superfine, butter vs shortening) so one could ostensibly move around ingredients depending on their preference.
I can’t say I contributed anything original to this recipe, but I did do the 2/3 calculations the author suggested to get one 9″ cake instead of two, so that could count. The texture of the cake is extremely springy and delicate with a rich, deeply chocolate flavor. No icing needed…some sprinkled sugar makes this cake look festive and party worthy.
Dreamy Simple Chocolate Cake (adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Makes one 9″ cake (measurement in weight for accuracy)
Baking cocoa – 42g
Boiling water – 2/3 cup
2 large eggs
Vanilla – 1 tbsp
Cake Flour (I used unbleached AP flour) – 158g
Icing sugar – 200g
Baking powder – 10g
Butter, softened – 152g
- Preheat oven to 350 and prepare baking pan.
- Mix water and cocoa together to smooth consistency. Set aside to cool.
- Lightly beat eggs, vanilla and 1/4 of the cocoa mixture to temper the eggs.
- In the electric mixer bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and sugar on slow speed just to mix the dry ingredients. (Sifting and mixing helps to aerate the mixture.)
- Add butter and cocoa mixture and beat on med-high for a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl.
- Add egg mixture gradually and beat. At this point the batter will look light and chocolatey, almost like whipped cream. Pour into cake pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean.
My original piece of advice would be: Let the cake cool! Don’t be impatient (as I have been numerous times before) and try to unmold the cake while it’s still hot or even warm. It. breaks. up. Every time. And so does your heart. One can only endure so many heartbreaks in life.
If you wait, you get rewarded with a beautiful, whole cake. If you don’t… well…
While I enjoy the dreaminess of this cake, the kiddos have their own deliciousness to contend with.