Happy mid-week! So thrilled to be back here with cake after two weeks of the most frustrating bout of dengue and all sorts of other strange things. I’ve hopefully seen the last of it and can now basically work on getting back to normalcy. And the blog is a huge part of that!! You guys have been so super sweet, thank you <3
I’m still moving around much slower than normal and everything seems to take more effort (thanks, platelets), so it made sense to start off with a classic chocolate cake, a light layer of creamy frosting and just devour it and feel better. Worked like a charm so far!
For some reason I’ve waited this long to try a basic chocolate cake from Smitten Kitchen and though some of my favourite chocolate cakes are right here and here and here, you can never have too many great chocolate cakes, right? Right.
I knocked off some of the sugar in the original recipe to allow for the frosting, baked it as a square cake instead of a loaf so it’s quicker and has more ‘frostable surface’ and the whole thing is just so dreamy. The frosting is bittersweet and silky, and you’ve seen it earlier on this yellow cake, the kind of frosting that may never actually make it to the cake. So good.
The cake is tender, rich, dark and only has cocoa powder and soured milk, no melted chocolate or anything else you have to go out of your way for. The cocoa is Dutch-process, but you can use regular cocoa too, I’ll make a note below. I liked it best warmed up or at room temperature for that amazing, gooey, moist texture. I find this post very useful on understanding more about natural cocoa vs Dutch process!
There is something so comforting about a cake as simple as this, it needs no occasion, just a very intense craving and urge to bake. It’s quick and delicious and we need nothing more.
Please read the recipe notes before beginning.
- For the cake
- 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder*
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt, if using unsalted butter
- ½ cup butter, at room temp (115 gms)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 egg, at room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk mixed with 2 tsps lemon juice (or use buttermilk)
- For the frosting
- 2 cups icing sugar/powdered sugar
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 6 tbsps butter, at room temp
- 6 to 8 tbsps cream (preferably whipping cream, which is thicker than regular cream)
- 2 tbsps milk, optional
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt, if using. Set aside.
- Lightly grease an 8" square pan and line it with baking paper, leaving a little overhang for easy removal. Grease the paper as well. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars are until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well till combined.
- Add the buttermilk, alternating with the flour mixture. Fold gently. I found this easier than adding the buttermilk all in one go, because it splattered all over the place. Fold till you have you a smooth batter.
- Pour into the prepared cake pan, smoothen the top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean and the cake is springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then using the overhang the slowly lift the cake out and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- To make the frosting, sift the sugar and cocoa very well, there should be no lumps. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, then add the sugar and cocoa mixture, alternating with the cream. Beat till smooth and creamy. If needed, add more cream or whole milk to get the frosting to a thick, but spreadable consistency.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake and dig in! I like this cake best at room temperature, or if eating it later, store in the fridge and reheat pieces in the microwave before eating. Happy baking!
*I used about half of this frosting recipe because I wanted a thin layer. Feel free to adjust the sugar, cream and milk quantities for a thinner or thicker frosting, there are no rules 🙂
*If using a loaf pan, the baking time could go up to 60 minutes.
*I have also made this cake with ¼ cup plain yoghurt instead of the egg. The texture is still rich and fudgy and the flavour is great too! The only difference I found was that it doesn't rise as much as the version with an egg. The picture below is the eggless one!
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