My friend’s birthday was this past weekend a few weeks ago (because I have been terrible about posting) and, not having heard of much, assumed it would probably just be celebrated at the Feve. However, early Saturday evening, I got a mass text from his girlfriend saying she was throwing him a surprise party. My immediate response? DO YOU NEED CAKE?!?! For anyone who knows me, this is hardly a surprise.
Having conveniently in the mood for chocolate cake, I whipped up my absolute favorite chocolate cake. And it is just the best cake ever. It is my go-to chocolate cake recipe for several reasons, the most important being it is DELICIOUS. Also it can be done in one bowl, by hand, and requires no special ingredients other than cocoa powder and sour cream. I got the text at 6 p.m., popped the cake in the fridge at 9 and was and was at the house by 10 p.m. on the spot.
I have been making this cake, in various incarnations, for a few years now. I originally learned of it from, of course, Sky High, via Smitten Kitchen, as part of a crazy peanut butter-chocolate cake. I helped a friend make it for her boyfriend at the end of a semester when I was trying to get rid of some ingredients, not expecting much since I do not care for peanut butter in the least. But when I happened to taste a bit of one cake layer’s crumb while assembling? OH MAN. I was in love. I even tried the cake later that night, it was so good.
But obviously I made it a little bit better. I swapped out a peanut butter cream cheese frosting (though if you like Reese’s cups, this was made for you) for a chocolate ganache that acts as an icing, since I find most to be way too sweet.
Also, you can use either natural or dutch-processed cocoa, as I have made it with both, but I highly recommend you use dutched if you can.
Chocolate Cake Layers
from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cake
Makes an 8” triple-layer (or 9” double-layer) cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well.
- Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
- To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1 pound semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
- Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). Do not use this to ice a cake immediately after making it, it will be a runny mess.