July 15, 2010

Rich Chocolate Cake I

A few months ago it was a good friend's birthday. Let me clarify, a good friend who likes peanut butter's birthday. So I made a birthday cake: Chocolate with Peanut Butter Frosting. I wasn't able to attend his party, but I was told that it was fantastic.

Just this week I got a request to make it again. The only problem is that I've always believed that everyone should be able to find a perfect chocolate cake recipe and it should be their 'go-to' recipe from that point on. Maybe it comes from years of Granny's Duncan Hines birthday cakes when the choice was Chocolate or Yellow. Of course there was also White, but Granny saved that option for super-special occasions. Wouldn't want to waste three egg yolks on a birthday cake, now would we? So I've just had this lifelong sense that one should find the recipe for a chocolate cake and the recipe for a yellow cake and be done with it.

Don't you suppose that type of perfection in the kitchen is always a bit elusive? There is always that quest for something just a little better. And so, I think the only chocolate cake I've ever made more than once is Betty Crocker's Best Devil's Food with White Mountain Frosting. I made that one twice in 1989 and I revisited it in 2009.

So, I have no idea what recipe I used for that friend's birthday cake. ( Of course, if I had already found my 'go to' chocolate cake I wouldn't have this problem, would I?) In retrospect, maybe it was Betty Crocker's Best, but I vaguely recall taking a basic Yellow Birthday Cake recipe, adding melted chocolate and adjusting the sugar. Oh and probably substituting some white whole wheat flour for a portion of the all-purpose flour. Or did I use whole wheat pastry flour? And was the white flour I remember in the original recipe really cake flour? See what I mean? I couldn't reconstruct that cake. And since I couldn't reconstruct it, I had better improve it.

Since this dear friend expected a wonderful cake for a baby shower that was coming up quickly, I had to find a reliable recipe. I knew just where to go: Smitten Kitchen. Deb, the magic behind Smitten Kitchen, does a fabulous job with cakes, as she does with everything she makes. And there was one recipe I'd been eyeing for a long time: Homemade Devil Dog Cake. The funny thing is that this particular cake recipe includes a marshmellow-y filling and a ganache frosting, and I had made the filling and the ganache before, but substituted a different chocolate cake recipe in for the cake. Why? Maybe I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. Or maybe I just have a hard time thinking that some recipe might be perfect exactly how it is written. I am really more of a method-based cook, and thankfully Deb seems to understand that. But after making this cake, this rich, deep chocolate-y chocolate cake, I feel foolish to question her pairings... I'm also feeling a little freer to admit that there might not be just one go-to Chocolate Cake recipe for each cook. I made a cake for my daughter's birthday that both my husband and daughter really enjoyed, but to me it wasn't chocolate-y enough. It was a great kid's party cake, though. But this one is in the running for my go-to chocolate cake.

This is a truly chocolate cake, not a yellow cake with chocolate thrown in as an afterthought or a coloring. It's rich and dark. It uses two kinds of chocolate: good quality semi-sweet, as well as good cocoa. Then coffee and buttermilk enhance the chocolatey-ness and give it a real depth. Another thing about this cake is that bakes up with a level top, so it can be frosted and filled without trimming a big hump off of the top, or filling gaps in the side with copious amounts of frosting. Wait, did I say it was a good thing...

Try this cake! Try it with Deb's 7-Minute Frosting and Chocolate Ganache to make a Ring Ding or Devil Dog Cake. Or, here I go messing with her pairings again, try it with my Easy Ultimate Peanut Butter frosting. But, seriously, try it!


  1. Drag your photo to your desktop and give it an easily recognizable name like "Chocolate Cake i" The go to the blogger dashboard and click "edit" on your entry. Go to the edit tab and click on it. The text in the box should look like font rather than draft. From the tool bar, find the picture icon and click on it. Import from your desktop. Then size it by grabbing a corner and shinking it or enlarging it.

  2. Yum! I am looking forward to tasting the Devil Dog Cake. Remember the chocolate cake you and Jessica made and then dropped on the floor? Was that a Betty Crocker recipe. Those cake recipes are amazingly simple and always pretty good. I have never heard of Smitten Kitchen before. Thanks for the suggestions.


  3. AnonymousJuly 20, 2010

    I may have to try her Devil Dog Cake....mmmmm good........jan

  4. AnonymousJuly 20, 2010

    We just ate the Devil Dog Cake...delicious!

  5. Candi, Yep that was the Betty Crocker cake I was reFerring to. Sadie helped us clean up the mess. Good times.

    That I've made a variation on the Devil Dog Cake with the 7-Minute (Marshmallow) Frosting on the outside, using the ganache as the filling, and it is simply fabulous!