The Classics – Chocolate Cake
This is the fifth chocolate cake recipe I am sharing on Chasing Delicious. Somehow though this is only the first time I am sharing a bare-bones, grandma-use-to-make-this, classic chocolate cake, a staple in any kitchen hosting a celebration. That’s exactly what my kitchen was doing this week. Not only did I turn twenty-six, but Chasing Delicious turned two and Rambunctious House (the company I’m starting with my longtime best friend Alicia) opened its doors all on the same day, May first! Since I share my birthday with this blog and my company – not to mention a holiday that involves dancing around a pole or protesting -, a crumb-licking celebration was in order to mark the occasion. Cue the chocolate cake.
I have three rules about chocolate cake: 1. It should be easy, 2. It should never look perfect, and 3. Chocolate cake should be so good that you want a second slice, but so chocolaty and rich that you don’t dare take a second slice. This cake is just that, a pretentious-free, no-fuss, chocolate cake worthy of any celebration – or any other day for that matter.
Chocolate Cake: To me, there are three elements essential to a delicious classic chocolate cake: a dense and moist texture (or the crumb), rich chocolate flavor and lots of frosting.
Texture/Crumb: A big part of what makes a great chocolate cake is the dense, crumbly, moist crumb and texture that accompanies the chocolate flavor. This is achieved with a very high-ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, using a take on the muffin mixing method, and a quick mixing process – care should be taken not to over mix the batter. As with any baked good, you should check the cake a few minutes before it is due to finish as nothing can turn a great chocolate cake into a subpar cake quicker than over baking.
Flavor: To get that bold chocolate flavor, I like using freshly brewed coffee – brewed just as if you were going to drink it. Using coffee in chocolate cake does not give the cake a coffee or mocha flavor, rather it intensifies the chocolate flavor. This is possible because coffee has the same flavor profile as chocolate, but is less dominant than cocoa, so adding it helps your tastebuds pick up on the chocolate notes. Since chocolate is the star here, I suggest using a very good quality chocolate.
Frosting: While I am not a big fan of cakes with lots of frosting, I love my chocolate cake with lots of frosting. Not only does the light, fluffy texture juxtapose the dense, moist cake wonderfully but chocolate buttercream is just sweet enough that it doesn’t become cloy. To keep the frosting from becoming too sweet, I suggest using bittersweet chocolate or a darker chocolate.
Classic Chocolate Cake
Yield: 1, 8″ layer cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
2, 8″ round cake pans
Fine mesh sieve
8 ounces flour
1 pound sugar
3 ounces cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot
2 pounds chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe below)
1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Prepare the two baking pans by buttering them, lining the bottom with parchment paper, buttering the paper, then dusting the pans with flour. Set aside.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt). Set aside.
2. Mix the eggs for about a minute until broken a part. Add the cream, sour cream and melted butter and mix until homogenous.
3. Pour the egg cream and butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until a batter forms.
4. Add the vanilla and hot coffee to the batter and mix in until homogenous.
5. Evenly distribute the batter into the two prepared cake pans.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out just barely clean (a few straggling crumbs is ok).
7. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Add a liberal helping of frosting to the top and spread out evenly to the edges of the cake. Carefully place the second layer of cake onto of the frosting. Since these cakes are incredibly crumbly, I suggest adding a layer of dirty icing before completely frosting the cake – to do this spread a very thin layer, gently, on the cake (top and sides), just enough to cover the cake and loose crumbs, and refrigerate until stiff, about 10 to 20 minutes. Once the dirty icing is stiff, frost the rest of the cake like you normally would any other cake.
Yield: 2 pounds 12 ounces (enough for 1, 8″ layer cake)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Standmixer or hand mixer
12 ounces chocolate (dark, semisweet or bittersweet)
1 pound unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until a thick frosting begins to form.
3. Add the chocolate to the frosting and mix until it is completely combined on a medium-low speed. You may need to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure the chocolate is completely mixed in.
4. Set aside until ready to use.