Chocolate Cake-awake. Or ‘cakey-wakey’.
Thats what I am when I am up at 2 in the morning, legs twitching, brain racing after having a piece of cake after dinner.Guess I had better stick to having it for breakfast.
Mummy came over yesterday and brought a stack of mags, like she frequently does. Its her bit to help recycle. This “Cuisine at Home” in particular looked promising. I might have been hungry, but every recipe looked fabulous! I almost drooled on the pages. Was it a scratch and sniff because I could practically smell the food? It started with shrimp risotto and ended with a moist looking old-fashioned chocolate cake.
“Ohhh, as soon as it cools off, I am so making that cake” says I. And I am not even a big chocolate fan. (I heard a gasp out there.)
Well this morning I woke up and it wasn’t 80 degrees outside yet, so I decided to celebrate. Just because it was Tuesday and because it was cool. I jumped out of bed at 6, stoked up the oven, pulled out some bowls and grabbed the magazine. Just the opportunity I was waiting for.
As I was assembling the ingredients, something in the back of my mind was trying to get my attention. I ignored it at first. I whisked the dry ingredients together. The flour, sugar, baking soda, salt. I put the wet ingredients together, hot water, oil, vanilla, a little coffee, vanilla and vinegar.
Then it dawned on me.
There were no eggs. No butter. No sour cream or buttermilk or yogurt. What kind of cake was this? What kind of madness was going on in the editing room of this magazine that they let this obvious mistake pass by unnoticed? Does the sun go around the earth? Is the world flat? How can you make a cake with no eggs or dairy?
Yet without even making mention of this fact, here was the recipe, bold and bare.
So I made it, just as it said. And while the 2 round pans were in the oven, I whipped up some cookies, not being one to waste oven heat.
Once I read about a baking contest. The bakers had outdoor wood burning bread ovens. Big handmade and designed ones. The idea was to stoke it up, get it hot, then see how many things you could bake in it before it cooled off. So you start early in the day and while it was at is hottest, you might make pizza, focaccia,work you way down through breads and end up with pastries or I don’t know what needing cooler ovens. That would be a contest interesting to see. At least to me. Especially if you could help eat it at the end!
So here is this cake. I did not make the frosting that came with the recipe. It was decidedly not vegan (but then neither am I) and I did not have the ingredients handy. It needed 1 1/2 cups of cream, sour cream and butter. If you were wanting to avoid dairy you could easily enough substitute non-dairy spread for the butter in my good-ole frosting recipe that comes on the back of the Hershey’s can. It works for me and I had just enough, and not a puff more, of the powdered sugar to make it.
I have to admit. It is probably my favorite chocolate cake from scratch recipe of all times! A keeper for sure, even without butter, milk, or buttermilk. The oil kept it moist. The coffee gave it depth. The hot water gave it a certain lightness. The vinegar helped stimulate the vinegar into a frenzy of activity.
I have a recipe from years back, from a sister-in-law at the time. It was a chocolate cake that used some boiling hot water. That cake came out wonderful too. Maybe I better pull it out and see if it isn’t the same recipe? What is it about the hot water? Does it give a boost to the baking soda? Does it give the batter the warmth to speed up the lift to make it lighter?
Imagine, water as a secret ingredient. Hot water!
The candy sprinkles were all I had handy to break up all the chocolate brown-ness.
Here is the recipe from Cuisine at Home:
Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups hot water
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
heat oven to 350. Spray or put parchment in the bottoms or 2 round 8″ cake pans.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Combine water, oil, vinegar, coffee and vanilla in a large measuring cup or bow. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined-a few lumps are okay.
divide batter between pans then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean 35-40 minutes. Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert them onto the rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely. I generally use cake strips, made of some kind of heat protecting radioactive proof material. You soak them in water briefly, gently squeeze out excess water and wrap them, sealing with a safety pin, around the outside of the cake pan. It helps distribute the heat so the outside of the cake doesn’t cook so fast that the middle keeps going and makes the familiar dome shape.
Here is the frosting recipe that came with it. Like I said, I just used the one on the back of the Hershey cocoa can and it works wonders for us.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt. Mixture will be thick and grainy.
Combine cream, sour cream and coffee in a large measuring cup, mixing well until smooth. Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch 6-8 minutes. Do not boil.
Off heat, add vanilla. Cool icing at room temperature until spreadable, 2-3 hours. (ah-ha, thats another reason I didn’t make this one.) Stir to make it spreadable. If too cold, warm a little in microwave.
When youngest son got up this morning and saw the cake in the pans cooling he wondered “Is this for a birthday or special occasion? I mean, who is it for?”
I told him for us, just because it was cool enough to turn on the oven and I didn’t get to bake last weekend. Just because it was a Tuesday.
“Wow, you really do love us!”
Wait till he tries the cookies!
One reason I don’t make desserts much around here is we all love it when it comes out of the oven but then I usually have to throw or give away the rest of whatever it is. We are just not big dessert eaters. But here was a cake for not good reason other than it just sounded good and look what happened? Older son brought home a bunch of friends and by the end of the day a sliver is all that is left of Mr. Cake! Perfect! Thats what I like to see and if it happened more often, I would make lots more desserts.
And wear loose, fat concealing caftans from the 60’s.