Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheating Chocolate Cake

One of my favorite cookbooks ever is Serena, Food & Stories by Serena Bass. Serena runs a catering company in New York, but she started out making ends meet by baking cookies in her kitchen and selling them at local shops. Her recipes are great but her writing is just fabulous. She's so funny, and she's lead a really interesting life.

Here's what she writes about this cake: "The cake is so easy, a five-year-old could make it, and it's very, very quick, so you could almost have it ready in less time than it takes to actually heat the oven. Hence the cheating. However, it has all the fine qualities that I look for in a plain cake--it's toothsome, damp and dark. It's the cake we rely on in the catering company when a call comes from a panicked secretary who's forgotten to order his or her boss's birthday cake. We calm the caller, and run for the cocoa."

This is one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever made. It's not overly sweet, and it's very, very moist. Instead of baking the cake in regular cake pans, I used a bundt pan and then iced the top and sides. So good!

Cheating Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups good quality all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk
2 extra-large eggs (I used 3 large cage-free eggs)
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pans
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bases with parchment. Set aside.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the boiling water and whisk to incorporate well. Pour the batter into prepared pans and weigh each filled pan, adjusting the amount of batter so both weigh the same.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment. Turn one cake right side up; that will be the top layer. Cool completely. You can make this cake the day before serving, sandwich it with jam, and keep it covered in the fridge. Leave the cake at room temperature for an hour if you plan to cover it with ganache.


1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until little bubbles appear around the edges. Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the chocolate; shake the pan to submerge the chocolate and leave it to melt for a couple minutes. Using a small whisk, stir gently to mix the chocolate to a smooth cream. Don't beat the mixture or you'll get unwanted bubbles and diminish the glossy finish.

Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to thicken to a spreadable consistency. Sandwich the cakes together with your favorite jam. Ice the cake using a metal spatula. Using a lazy Susan makes the icing process go much easier.

Let the ganache set-up a bit before serving.


  1. Oh my gosh, that looks fabulous! I'll have to add that book to my list.

  2. That is a perfect looking chocolatae cake!!!

  3. Awesome-looking cake, Michele. This will be the recipe I try next for that chocolate fix.

  4. This cake looks very moist. Nice.