Chocolate cake, anyone?

I have received numerous recipes and baking ideas since my chocolate cake hunt post. As I've sifted through them, I'm finding some key differences (and similarities) among the recipes. One type of basic chocolate cake comes from this "war-time" recipe, when milk products and eggs were at a minimum. Both Andrea's and Debbie's recipe follows this basic eggless, butterless, milkless format: nearly equal flour and sugar, cocoa powder, bit of salt and baking soda, with a mixture of oil, vanilla, and vinegar added in. On the other hand, there is a set of much more complicated recipes that indeed call for butter, some type of milk product (milk, buttermilk, sour cream), and eggs. The one I made last week fell under this category and called for sour cream. I made both types over the last two days, an "Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake" from Cooks Illustrated, and Debbie's chocolate cake recipe.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
This was quite a bit of work. I tried something different by adding a good amount of spices to the recipe, to see if what I was looking for was more of a spice cake. Definitely not what I am wanting, although it was tasty. Robby said it tasted "seasonal" to him. Cute. Except for the over-spicing, it was good in a couple of areas: the texture was moist and it indeed reminded me of a yummy layer cake from a restaurant. I can't see this working too great with cupcakes, though. It wanted to collapse as I was frosting it, so that would be a problem.

Simple Chocolate Cake
This morning, I tried Debbie's recipe. I actually liked this one much better, and boy is it easy to make. The cake was much darker and more chocolatey, although I don't know if that's because the other cake had spices in it. It is definitely moist, but what makes it different is the "crust." It has a very hard outer crust, which makes it nice to frost, but doesn't create the best first bite. I may be able to overlook this, though. The taste was yummy even if I plan to add more cocoa and perhaps a tiny bit of cardamon to the batter next time.

What I really liked about today's attempt was the frosting recipe I found. It came from Sarah Magid's recipe on Design Sponge. Basically, it began with a heated flour and milk mixture, which was cooled and added to a whipped butter and sugar mixture. A little vanilla and spice makes it a nice light buttercream frosting. Click here for the full recipe. (Interesting note: her chocolate cake recipe was nearly exactly Debbie's, except it was doubled and called for all organic ingredients.) One thing to keep in mind, if you do try this, is to make sure and sift your flour so there are absolutely no lumps in the mixture. Mine wasn't perfect, so the final frosting has tiny lumps here and there, hence the sprinkles to cover that up.

The only problem I have now is I am completely sick of chocolate cake and I have all of the above left over! Anyone care for a slice?

By the way, if you're interested in any of the recipes, let me know.


  1. What gorgeous frosting! I think that is the same technique, with the flour milk base, as in that little book you wrote, except they used regular sugar instead of powdered sugar. That cupcake looks professional! Beautiful!

  2. me! me! both look so good i may have to go make one or something like it, oh, right now :). the frosting - i am such a sucker for GOOD buttercream frosting. yeah. definitely going to make chocolate cake. now.

  3. So I read the frosting recipe after I posted. You use granulated sugar? Did it come out all grainy from the sugar? That is what happened when I tried it. If not, what is the secret?

  4. Debbie, I thought it would be grainy, but just following the directions beat it enough, I suppose, and once I added the flour/milk mixture, it smoothed everything out. I guess you could use baker's sugar and that would make it even more fool-proof. Like I said, the only problem I found was the lumpy flour stuff.

    Marisa, you will love this frosting! Happy baking!

  5. We can help with the too-much-chocolate-cake-problem if it still exists tomorrow night!!


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