I’ve made a couple of different chocolate cakes before, but this Easy Chocolate Cake has just become my go-to recipe.
Why? Coz for very little effort (no electric mixer in sight) I got a moist, tender, super chocolatey, not to mention… gluten-free cake, just perfect for any occasion. I paired it with a gorgeous cream cheese icing which matched it beautifully and everyone agreed it was a keeper.
And, how did I find out about this exceptionally easy, yet delicious cake? A work colleague of mine – a baker extraordinaire – makes it regularly and I keep asking for the recipe, then promptly losing it. This last week she made it again, and again she gave me the instructions (yes, she’s very long-suffering!). So, when my parents celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary this weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to give it a go. And, on this occasion, I opted for a single layer, larger cake.
My friend couldn’t recall where she sourced the recipe, but a kind reader has since let me know that it’s virtually identical to a years-old and immensely popular recipe from Hershey’s called ‘Perfectly Chocolate’ chocolate cake.
The next step was to pair the cake with an icing that would do it justice. So, I searched online and found this fabulous Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting recipe from Natasha at Natasha’s Kitchen.com. Together, the cake and icing were a match made in heaven – the overall combination being not too sweet, but rich, dark and chocolatey, with that slight tangy edge thanks to the cream cheese. By the way, while you don’t need an electric mixer for the cake, you really do need one for this icing, unless you have the arms of a Sumo-wrestler.
So… to recap… if you love the idea of a no-fuss, no-beat chocolate cake, yet one that delivers a perfectly moist and flavoursome result, not to mention one that can successfully be adapted to gluten-free, then this recipe is most definitely the one you’re looking for.
20 October 2017: It’s two years later, and I decided to make this cake again for my dad’s 89th birthday – this time as a two-layer cake. I’m happy to report that there was more than enough icing to generously fill and cover the cake. And, once again, everyone agreed it was a triumph! The photo of the cake at the top of this post is the two-layer cake, as is the photo below.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used a gluten-free flour blend)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coffee powder (or espresso powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 225g (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temp
- 8 Tbsp (115g) (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
- 3 cups icing sugar (powdered or confectioner's sugar)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Prepare two 8-inch cake pans or one 9-inch pan by spraying with baking spray or greasing and lining with baking paper.
- Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso powder into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt and sugar and whisk to combine (or use the paddle attachment of your electric mixer).
- In a separate bowl combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add to flour mixture and whisk (or beat in the electric mixer on medium speed) until well combined. Carefully add the boiling water and stir (or beat on a low speed) until combined. Once combined, whisk vigorously (or beat on high speed) to add air to the batter for about 1 minute. NB: You'll find the batter a bit wetter than average due to the amount of liquid in it. This is perfectly normal.
- Distribute the cake batter evenly between the two (or one, if using) prepared cake pans. Bake for 50-55 (for two cakes*) or 55-60 minutes (for one cake), until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. NB: The cake will dome and crack towards the end of the bake, however I found that when I inverted the cake to cool it, the dome flattened out so it didn't require trimming.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan, invert and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer using paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer with a large bowl), beat together 8 oz creamcheese with 8 Tbsp butter on medium/high speed until creamy (3 min), scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Sift in 3 cups powdered sugar with 1/2 cup cocoa powder to ensure there are no lumps then add 1/4 tsp salt. Mix on low speed until well combined, scrape down the bowl well then increase to medium/high speed, add the vanilla and beat until smooth and whipped (1 min).
- For one cake: Place the cake, right side up, on a serving plate. Generously slather the icing over the cake and swirl with the back of a fork or spatula. You'll have a fair bit of icing left over - freeze for another time (perhaps some cupcakes!).
- For two cakes: Place one cake, upside down (so the flat surface is on the top), on a serving plate. Generously slather the icing on the surface of the cake. Place the second cake, right side up (so that the flat surface is on the bottom), on top. Slather more icing over the top and sides of the cake, swirling with the back of a fork or spatula.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. NB: The cake lasts exceptionally well for a couple of days; simply store on the kitchen counter and cover cut edges with plastic wrap. If you prefer to store the cake in the fridge, let it come to room temperature before serving.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting