Life is short. You really should eat dessert.
Not every single day, mind you. Or maybe you could, if you only had a small taste. There is something really special about having a cake to look forward to. Either after a meal, or with coffee in the afternoon, cake takes an ordinary day and makes it feel like something special is happening.
|The Easter Version|
But, cake is one of those things that you really have to make from scratch. Have you ever read the label of a cake in the grocery store? Here is a really good piece on what's in a supermarket birthday cake. I'm not from the school of thought that says that every mouthful of food you ever eat must be as pure as the driven snow. But, the ingredient list on some of those cakes was pretty scary! And it turns out that baking a basic cake isn't very hard. If you can manage with a cake mix, you can make a cake from scratch. And this recipe is a perfect beginner cake, because it's so easy to ice.
Let me give you the sales pitch on this cake ... it's one layer only, so it's quick to make (you can have a complete, decorated cake in 1 hour, from start to finish); you can switch out the chocolate, to suit different palates. I've made it with both dark and semi-sweet chocolate (and I think you could switch it to milk chocolate if you had to, although I haven't tried that myself); you ice it in 2 seconds flat with a ganache (which is way easier than icing a cake with buttercream); and then you make it seasonal with candy or sprinkles appropriate to the time of year! What more could you want? Here's the recipe:
|The Easter Version|
1 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup warm water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With butter, grease an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. In your mixer, or a larger bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and water. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a rack to completely cool.
|The Valentine's Day Version|
8 oz chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup of light cream
1 tbsp sugar (only for dark or semi-sweet chocolate)
Place chopped chocolate in a microwavable glass bowl. Melt it in the microwave in 20 second increments. Add the cream and sugar and stir until it is well combined (at first, it will seem like it isn't combining well - don't panic, it will after about a minute). Set the cake on a rack over a baking sheet and poor the ganache over top. You may need to spread it with a spatula ... or you can just let gravity do the work and have it run down the sides. It may seem a wee bit runny, but will set over the next hour or so. Top with candy or sprinkles if desired.
**Note: this past weekend, I made this cake gluten-free by switching Bob's Red Mill gluten-free baking mix for the flour. It worked really well.
You can get the printable recipe HERE.