A funny thing happened on my way to relocating my blog from Typepad to WordPress: I found a few old posts that I had started, but never finished. They were just hanging out in the blogosphere black hole, waiting for someone to care. Upon finding them, I felt like a deadbeat blogger. Sorry, guys.
So today’s post might be viewed by some (we’ll call you the glass-is-half-empty-Debby-Downer-set) as a bit of a cop-out. First of all, I originally created this cake over a year ago for a friend’s son. Second, the post doesn’t include a new recipe, rather a re-post of one of my most popular and most (as the title implies) favorite recipes: my Favorite, Most Reliable, and Oh-So-Versatile Chocolate Cake Recipe.
To the rest of you (who we will call the glass-is-half-full-Peggy-Pleasant-set), new content is new content……even old new content. Plus, if you are a newer reader, it will give you yet another chance to print out and try this so-awesome-that-it-shoud-be-called-McAwesome cake recipe. Speaking of printing, one of the benefits of moving to WordPress has been all of the fantastic plug-ins (accessories to bling up your blog) that are available. One of my favorites is called ZipList, which formats my recipe, making it pretty and printable at the same time. So far, it has worked like a charm. Highly recommend.
On to the cake. Every once in awhile, I am asked to make a themed cake for someone’s child/spouse/self. For some reason I rarely say “no”, even if I have no idea what the theme is or how I am going to complete said cake. My commitment always leads to hours scouring the Internet for ideas.
This cake’s theme was “something Star Wars” for 6-year old Dom. I have been making Dom’s brithday cakes since his Fire Truck Cake in 2009 (which turned into an all-nighter project.) My original idea was to make an R2D2 cake. While attempting to shape the cake into a robot, I realized, in fact, that I am not the Ace of Cakes. Not. Even. Close. The cake looked nothing like R2D2, and I had flashes of it eventually ending up on Cake Wrecks, the kiss of death for cake decorators.
So, with time ticking away, I went for a bit simpler design, incorporating the hand-piped logo, cupcakes and custom sugar cookies, finishing with about 5 minutes to spare so that I could deliver it covered in blue and black White Chocolate Buttercream. I was relieved to hear that Dom was very happy with the final design and that everyone was happy with the taste of the cake (but I wasn’t concerned about that!!
This is the only basic chocolate cake recipe that you will EVER need, so stop looking! Ever since I first created it about 8 years ago, I have used it for my layer cakes, decorated sheet cakes and even cupcakes. It stays moist both chilled and at room temperature, and it is very forgiving when I cut it for molded cakes.
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) strong hot brewed coffee (no wimpy stuff allowed!)
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) canola oil
- 3 cups (750 mL) sugar
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) buttermilk
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) good quality cocoa powder
- 2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
- 3/4 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 300F degrees (150 C) Spray 2 or 3 (see note) 10-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl stir together the coffee with the chopped chocolate until smooth.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until they are slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly add the canola oil and then the sugar, mixing until well combined.
- Add the buttermilk, coffee mixture and vanilla to the bowl; mix until well blended.
- Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sift it again if the mixture still appears clumpy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the batter in four additions, mixing on low speed until incorporated before adding more. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Divide the batter among your prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, 55-65 minutes. Cool the layers in the pans for 15 minutes then carefully invert them onto wire racks to cool completely before icing (see notes below.)
For half sheet cakes with two layers, I usually double this recipe. One recipe fills up one lined half-sheet pan with one-inch sides (there's a little left over, so make cupcakes!) Bake half sheet pans at 325F for 30-40 minutes. This recipe can be used to make a two, three or four layer cake. If you have two round cake pans, you can make a two-layer cake or cut each layer in half to make four layers. Use three separate round pans to make three even layers. Baking time will vary based on thickness of your layers. If I use this batter to make cupcakes, I increase the oven temperature to 350F.