I’ve pretty much always loved baking. When I was 16, I got obsessed with cake decorating – Cake Central was my favourite site – and I found any excuse to decorate a cake. Get-togethers, friends’ birthdays, friends’ mums’ birthdays – you name it.
It was more about the decorating though, and not so much the cake itself. The cake was a bit of an afterthought that was solved with a Betty Crocker mix (a bit of magic on their own, if you ask me. Add water and oil, get a cake – what?!)
But of course, box mix is never quite the same as homemade and always has a bit of a weird artificial flavour to it. I like this recipe because the end result is just like what you’d expect from a box mix, minus the artificial flavour. It’s a simple and uncomplicated cake that lends itself well to cake decorating, but is delicious enough to eat on its own!
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Break dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Add cocoa powder.
Pour over boiling water, and mix until fully melted. Set aside and let cool – it doesn’t have to be fully cooled, just as long as it’s not boiling hot!
Cream together butter and sugar, preferably in a stand mixer (handheld never quite does the job as well) but as you can see, I used a handheld electric mixer here, and the end result was just fine.
At this point, I like to also prepare the dry mixture (flour, baking powder and salt) and measure the milk, and set aside (not pictured)!
Add eggs one by one, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the chocolate mixture to the whipped butter and eggs.
Beat the chocolate mixture into the butter and egg mixture until fully incorporated.
Add the flour and milk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
Pour mixture into a buttered pan. Place in oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
And there it is, baked!
Once the baked cake has cooled sufficiently (about an hour or two), invert onto your serving plate. Cut rectangles of parchment paper and shimmy them underneath the edges of the cake. These will help your serving plate stay clean whilst you frost your cake.
Frost your cake, and decorate as you wish. As you can see, this wasn’t the most smooth decorating job, but I didn’t think anyone would mind considering the chocolate content. This frosting is just a standard whipped ganache.
As you can see, this cake was for my mum’s 52nd birthday!
- 120 grams unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (regular unsweetened or Dutch processed)
- 240 ml boiling water
- 295 grams all purpose flour
- 10 grams baking powder
- 6 grams baking soda
- 2 grams salt
- 225 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200 grams granulated white sugar
- 205 grams firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 8 grams pure vanilla extract
- 240 ml milk
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, two - 9 x 2 inch deep (23 x 5 cm) round baking pans. Then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
- First, in a heatproof bowl, place the finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Add the hot coffee (or boiling water) and stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk to combine (or sift), the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat, on medium high speed, until the mixture is soft and fluffy (this will take about 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine.
- Add the flour mixture (in three additions) alternately with the milk (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, one cake at a time, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Remove the parchment paper and then, to prevent cracks, reinvert the cake onto a greased wire rack so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before frosting.