When I had my bakery, this was by far, hands down, the most loved flavor. Whenever I ask what family or friends want, it's always this chocolate cake. It's rich but not too sweet. It's moist like devil's food cake but also somehow light and fluffy. It's. Just. Perfect.
Whenever people tell me they can't bake, I just don't believe them. If you feel like everything you make flops, blame the recipe! Truly anyone can bake an incredible cake, you just need the right recipe and a few tips and tricks. So let's do this- right now, you're going to make the most AMAZING chocolate cake.
First, turn that oven on and while it's heating up, you're gonna brew the coffee. I've found that 4 cups is just enough for the cake plus a mug for myself. Because... coffee. While we're waiting for that, let's do a quick flour measuring lesson (it's how I measure the cocoa, too). This is, I think, one of the biggest pitfalls in reading a recipe, and why you might think you're not a great baker. How you put the flour in your measuring cup can mean the difference between a cookie and a rock pancake blob that only vaguely resembles a cookie from a very distant past life. Here's how you do it: take a large spoon and fluff up the flour in your jar/bag, just a couple strokes to break up any clumps. Then, scoop the flour with your spoon and put it in the measuring cup, filling it up till it's more than enough. If my kids know one thing about baking, they'll tell you "Don't tap the flour!" Then, take the flat edge of a knife and run it across the top of your cup, scraping off the extra. And voila! You're ready to rock.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a handheld mixer, just make sure you've got a really big bowl), dump the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk all that together. Then in a separate bowl, you're gonna add all the wet ingredients, saving the coffee for last. Slowly pour it into the wet ingredients bowl while you whisk, so the eggs don't scramble from the heat. Then, pour that into your mixer bowl, and with the paddle attachment, mix everything together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides (and don't forget to get the bottom, too- flour clumps like to hang out there). Then another 30 seconds of mixing and you're done!
Now, prepping your pans. You can do this before you make the batter or after, whatever floats your boat. But you're gonna need wax paper, something to trace with (I usually use a sharpie), scissors, and three 1-gallon size ziplock bags. Trace your 8inch pan on the wax paper, then cut out 3 identical circles. Spray the bottom of each pan with a little cooking spray and put a wax circle inside each. Then spray the whole pan, add a big spoonful of flour, and tap it around until the whole thing is covered. Tap out any excess flour into the trash, then pour your batter evenly into each. Now here's the truth- I always have one layer that is slightly thinner than the others. But the way I get them to pretty equal is I count to three for each pour. IE: [pouring the batter] "1-2-3", [pouring] "1-2-3"... You'll be surprised how close they'll be! But don't worry about being super precise, you'll just have to keep an eye on the smaller one during the final cooking minutes.
Once they're all set, tap them once or twice on the counter to let out air bubbles, then pop them in the oven. You're almost done!!!!! And it's going to be DELICIOUS. Ok- so now put 25 minutes on your timer. I am still surprised by the amount of recipes that call for quite a few more minutes than my oven actually needs. And those extra minutes are the difference between a dry or tender cupcake. As a general rule, I always do 5 minutes less than what the recipe calls for, and then keep an eye on things from there.
So, now you've finished the last half of the latest Ring of Power episode and you're left again asking God why Peter Jackson and Phillipa Boyens couldn't have written and directed the dang thing- and your timer goes off. Pull yourself together, then grab a toothpick and poke it in the middle of each cake. We're going for a few crumbs sticking on the side. If it looks runny, you'll probably need 3-ish more minutes. I find my cakes are usually 25 minutes for the inevitable smaller layer, and 28 for the others.
Let these puppies cool in their pan for 10 minutes, then use a sharp knife to go around the edges and release the cake. *Even though you floured the sides, you still need to do this (I know). Pull a large piece of plastic wrap over the top of the cake, then flip it over onto the counter. Make sure to peel off the wax paper (definitely have forgotten that before, too...), and wrap it up with the plastic wrap. Place in the ziplock and put in the freezer, making sure it lays flat with nothing on top. These will stay perfectly happy in the freezer for up to a month, or they'll be ready in a few hours to frost.
You DID IT! I can't wait till you get to dig your fork into this. Make sure to check out my light and fluffy vanilla buttercream or whipped cream frosting - our family favorites for pairing with this incredible chocolate cake.
Total time: 45 mins
Makes: 3 8inch cakes OR 36 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled (see above post)
1 cup cocoa, spooned and leveled
3 cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup hot coffee
3/4 cups canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Wax paper, three 1-gallon size ziplock bags
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 3 8inch cake pans (see above post).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Then slowly add in the hot coffee, whisking while you pour so the eggs don't cook.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides and bottom, then mix again on medium for another 30 seconds.
Pour the batter evenly into the three pans (count to 3 for each while you pour), then bake for 25-28 minutes (until only a few small crumbs stick to the toothpick).
Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then, use a sharp knife to go around the edges releasing the cakes. Put a long strip of plastic wrap over the top of the pan and flip the cake over. Remove the wax paper and wrap the cake in the rest of the plastic wrap. Gently put it in the ziplock bag and place it in the freezer, lying flat. Repeat for the other two cakes.
STORAGE: This cake can stay perfectly fresh in the freezer for up to a month. When you're ready to frost, simply take it out of the freezer and put it on the counter for 15 minutes or so. Once frosted, the cake will stay delicious in the fridge for up to a week. I'd recommend freezing the leftovers (wrap in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil), and then thawing on the counter before you're ready to eat it again.