Tuesday, August 3, 2010

everyday chocolate cake

everyday chocolate cake

Chocolate gets stiffed every summer in my kitchen and this one has been no different. Apparently, the only time I have come near chocolate with a ten foot pole this summer was more than six weeks ago, when I made some impromptu chocolate doughnut holes in the lull between rhubarb/strawberry season and every awesome fruit since. And I love chocolate like some people love bagels. This isn’t right.


It’s just that every time I think about making something with chocolate in it, I push it back to the fall, and then the winter. How boring I have become since I started aligning my cooking with the seasons! I reason that I can make chocolate goodies any time of year, but nectarines will only be as brilliant as they are right this very minute and then not again until next summer and I will miss them the whole time and thus we must focus only on each other for as long as we can. Me and summer fruit, we get intimate.

battered up

I almost felt like I was cheating on my berries and stone fruits when I made this simple chocolate cake this week, save one thing: this isn’t a dead-of-winter, blanket-of-snow, stuck-inside kind of chocolate cake. For that, there are chocolate souffles with white chocolate cream and this rich slab; show me them on a broiling summer day and I might actually opt for “just tea” for dessert, likely for the first time in my life. But not every chocolate craving demands a swan dive into a vat of chocolate-draped chocolate truffles to be satisfied. Sometimes you just want a slice of cake. Often those times are Tuesday night and they deserve a one-bowl, one-loaf cake like this.

everyday chocolate cake
chocolate cake + cream + raspberries

One year ago: Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad
Two years ago: Blueberry Pancakes, Huevos Rancheros, Blueberry Crumb Bars and Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Three years ago: Quick Zucchini Sauté

Everyday Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery At Home

My changes were to streamline the recipe (and shirk some recipe-writing conventions) to make this a one bowl cake, because anything called “everyday” really oughta be in one bowl. I added weights (because then your bowl becomes your measuring cups and look how few dishes you have to do!). And I completely messed up on a key ingredient, cocoa.

[Updated 8/5/10] Although I was thrilled with the result when I used Dutch cocoa and 1 teaspoon baking soda (in the original published recipe, 8/4/10), the cake rose and sank slightly in the baking process, a sign that the leavener was off. I retested this the next day with different levels of leavener and two different types of cocoa, in hopes to keep the cake aloft. I’ve updated the recipe below with the suggestion of Dutch cocoa, a reduced amount baking soda and the addition of baking powder. I found that the version with Dutch cocoa was darker with a more appealing chocolate flavor. But fear not: If you only have a natural or non-Dutched cocoa, you can still use it, but you’ll want to use 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and no baking powder. Here’s a photo of both versions side-by-side. Both were gleefully received. Happy baking!

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 7/8 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 5/8 ounces) Dutch cocoa powder (see above for a natural cocoa adjustment)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if you’re feeling fancy.


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