In this column, Scout contributor and food enthusiast Maciel Pereda shares her personal recipes aimed at solving everyday cooking conundrums. Possibilities are endless, ingredients are local, and cravings are always respected. Today Maciel shares her adaptation of a nostalgic and “fool-proof” baking recipe…
I would like for us to all take a collective deep breath and find acceptance with the fact that I have chosen to misuse my power on this platform to promote the type of food-makery that is least appealing to most home cooks: baking. All together now, breathe in deeply once again as I tell you that not only will there be baking, but the end product will be…a cake.
Although you don’t have to make this recipe for a birthday party, the advantage of doing so is that it will inevitably introduce numerous opportunities for you to receive high praise about how you managed to bake the most delicious chocolate cake imaginable. From there you can play it cool and give away nothing (you ARE a mysterious cake whisperer with skills beyond this world’s measure!), or you can be like me and hardly stop yourself from blathering on about how: a) it’s made in a single bowl; b) it takes just 10 minutes to throw together; and c) it uses a two-ingredient icing – essentially ruining any mystique surrounding your cake-making prowess.
There is one point that I really need to underscore for everyone who is currently convinced they will never willingly bake a cake: this is not your ordinary cake. I have made every adjustment to this cake recipe imaginable and STILL have not found a single way to make it even close to bad. Even if you substitute with gluten-free flour (done it), non-dairy milk (done it), or flax eggs (done it), you will still have a good cake! Not to mention that this same batter comes out equally delicious when poured into a (9×13”) sheet cake pan, lined cupcake tin, two 8” round pans, or a bundt pan (with time adjustments for size, of course). So, maybe just consider it?
The following batter recipe comes from the sole baking book that could be found in my home growing up: Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook, a photo-less paperback the size of a greeting card that was published in 1979. I don’t recall it ever being flipped open to any page except for the one that read “Black Magic Cake”. I believe the original sheet cake recipe calls for mocha buttercream frosting, but I personally prefer drizzling ganache over a bundt cake. Recipe below is for a single cake made in a standard bundt cake pan:
The Only Cake You’ll Ever Need
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed type)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
~1 cup “sour” milk (mix 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar)
1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (325 if using a convection oven). Prepare a bundt pan by either buttering-and-flouring or using baking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, sift then stir together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle, then pour in the eggs, sour milk, coffee, oil, and vanilla. Using electric beaters or a stand mixer (whisk attachment), beat the mixture on medium-high for two minutes, or until totally smooth. You should be left with a thin, bubbly liquid resembling Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. Pour this mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Give the pan a few sharp taps against the counter to release some of the air bubbles (you can also let it sit out for another 10-15 minutes to help with this if your batter ended up a bit too “bubbly”). Bake on the centre rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with moist crumbs – this can take anywhere from 35-50 minutes, depending on your oven and pan. Start checking every ~5 minutes once the centre is no longer jiggly.
When the cake is done, let it cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes, then invert it and finish cooling completely. Once the cake is cool, you can start on the ganache. Find a very small, heatproof bowl that can be tightly covered with a lid or plate; place the chocolate chips in this bowl. Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat just to boil, then immediately pour over the chocolate chips to submerge them, and cover the bowl tightly. Leave for five minutes, then remove the cover and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has completely melted. Ganache thickens and eventually solidifies as it cools, so you will want to take note of when it has reached the desired consistency that you would want for drizzling. Leaving it for longer will yield more of a spreadable icing, leaving it for less time will result in more of a light glaze. I find that ~30 minutes’ cooling time is ideal for my purposes, which mostly involve a slow drippy pour-over method.
This is the most delicious chocolate cake imaginable!
Chocolate is not my favourite cake, but I definitely enjoy an excellent one…I am going to make this!