This is the cake that restored my the faith that I can indeed bake. Before this cake, everything that I had attempted had flopped miserably and very literally. There was the cake I baked for my grandfather as a child under my aunt's supervision which cracked right in the center and we tried to cover up and prettify with fresh flowers from her garden, my very first own experiment later on that I cringe to even think about: A cake that called for vinegar and where, instead of baking soda used baking powder and instead of coca powder used drinking chocolate powder. The result was more a pancake than cake. A very sour, mud coloured pancake.
There was also the incident where my roommate and I were baking a cake for a friend's birthday and as we watched it baking through the clear glass of the oven were horrified to see it grow and grow and grow, like a volcano waiting to erupt. A triangular cake that was rock-hard but which we could atleast pass off as a brownie. A tasty birthday brownie.
These and many more such incidents have taught me that Baking is a science and there is a lot of chemistry and interplay between ingredients so substitutions and in accurate measurements can lead to doom- or volcano cakes!
So my sister-in-law who is an awesome cook actually wrote down her favourite recipes into a little red book for my husband and me while we set up our kitchen here. It has became almost a bible for me and many of those recipes I have shared here, as well as new ones she emails me. They are fail proof and instant hits and so is this chocolate cake recipe.
This has now become my go-to chocolate cake recipe. I bake this beforehand, whenever I have people over and almost always get recipe requests. It has a rich decadent chocolate taste even though it does not call for butter or cream, and instead uses oil. The ingredients are pretty much always on hand and its very easy to make too-comes out perfect every time..
The taste is heavily influenced by the type of chocolate powder used, so make sure it's a brand you really like I use the Ghiradelli brand though a dutch processed chocolate powder would be best. In India I have made it with the Cadbury's coco powder which I love, and is easily available there. Did not have much success with other brands like the Bakers brand of coco powder.
Even though I have made this many many times now, we never seem to get tired of this tender, moist cake which is great on its own or with chocolate sauce or ice cream, and its all gone in a flash!
1 cup buttermilk ( I use half a cup of curd and half a cup of water)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 180 C
Lightly grease base and sides of a 23 cm deep round cake tin with oil
In a large bowl sift cocoa sugar flour baking pwd, baking soda and salt and combine.
In another bowl put the eggs, and all the other wet ingredients (except the water) and whisk
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until half combined.
pour the boiling water and whisk till fully combined and the batter is smooth
Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and place in oven for 40-45 mins until skewer inserted into the center of cake comes out clean
You could also pour the batter into prepared cupcake tins and bake for about 20-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
( I have also added 4 tsp of coffee pwd into the boiling water and some chopped toasted walnuts which I dusted with flour and stirred into the batter towards the end. I also tried to use white chocolate bits which however just melted into the batter so that didn't really make a big difference unfortunately.)
Verdict: this cake is moist and fluffy and has come out perfect every time I've baked it. The second time after I have tried a recipe I'm back to my old tricks of substituting and adding random things. But in this case with the addition of coffee and nuts it was sensational. Would also like to try incorporating Kahlua or even orange extract sometime.
I don't know why but I like the idea of using oil to bake instead of butter. I think I'm quite obsessed with the idea that oil makes the cakes very moist and that it's somewhat healthier than butter. Also for making a recipe dairy free its very easy to just substitute the buttermilk for soured soymilk ( just add about 1/4 cup lemon juice to 3/4 cup of soy milk) or almond/rice milk ( though I have not tried almond or rice milk) and not have to worry about butter substitutes since there will always be a bottle of canola oil in my kitchen. Thankfully there are lots of food bloggers out there that fuel my obsession. For why else would someone make a red velvet cake with oil? See here for a wonderful recipe from smitten kitchen for red velvet cake that I just have to try.
Update: Ria pointed out that this recipe may be the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake which I just checked out and it does seem very similar but they use 1 cup milk instead of buttermilk/yougurt & water as this one does. I have not tried it with milk. The site also lists some info on frosting and baking in alternate pans which I found very useful:
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.