Cake quest continues with the perfect chocolate cake for the back-to-school blues
Here in Toronto this weekend is the opening of the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). It’s a big outdoor carnival with rides, shows and exhibits that marks the end of summer holidays. That means it’s time to start thinking about … back-to-school, back to work and back to last minute dinner in a hurry.
If you’ve been following my year-long quest for the perfect chocolate cake – Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Blackberries, Deluxe Chocolate Cake Mix, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, it was time to explore a really simple recipe that would be perfect for this on-the-go time of year. What came to mind was one of my Mom’s favourite recipes that whips together fast when you need dessert in a hurry. It’s a really old recipe, tested and true, first created during WWII when rations were tight – you need no eggs or milk. The added bonus is it’s made in just one pan with 9 simple pantry basics!
This cake is so simple, I thought the best way to emphasize that was to take you through it step-by-step:
STEP ONE – Add all the dry stuff to a 8″ x 8″ pan. Stir to combine.
STEP TWO – Make three wells and add wet stuff.
STEP THREE: Stir really well.
STEP FOUR – Bake and frost. Easy peasy.
To recap the CAKE QUEST scoring: I’m using a rating scale from 1-10 with the following criteria:
1. Simple. Uncomplicated method, and no ingredients that can’t be purchased at any grocery store.
2. Texture. Moist yet fluffy. Not too dense, this is not a mousse cake or flour-less cake.
3. Flavour. Rich and natural dark chocolate.
4. Fool-proof. It always turns out perfectly. If time is tight, you’re sure it will turn out every time.
5. Height. I love a lofty cake.
This cake is amazing. For the minimal work and fuss, this cake delivered really awesome flavour, texture and chocolately goodness.
Results… 48 out of 50
1. Simple. 10 – this was really simple only 9 ingredients!
2. Texture. 10 – it was moist and really fluffy. Texture is really even, no air pockets.
3. Flavour. 10 – perfect. Dark, rich chocolate flavour.
4. Fool-proof. 10 – simple method, only 9 ingredients that you already have in the pantry. No milk or eggs!
5. Height. 8 – an 8″ x 8″ snack cake is not a true comparison against the other layer cakes.
O.K. so this is a tie for first with my Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Blackberries. To be fair, it’s not really a perfect comparison because I was influenced by the frosting, layers and fresh blackberries. To make it an apples to apples comparison, I’m going to make this cake again, double the recipe and bake in two 9-inch round layer pans. I’ll get back to you, but I think the results will be just as amazing.
- 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 1-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- In an ungreased 8x8-inch pan , add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Make three wells in the dry ingredients and add vinegar, vanilla and oil. Pour the water over the top and stir well to combine until smooth.
- Bake 26-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
- In a bowl whip butter until light and creamy. Add sugar, cream and vanilla. Whip on high speed until light and spreadable.