Chocolate cake came up in the comments on Monday's recipe for quick yellow cake, so here, promptly, is a recipe. This must, however, be prefaced by Laurie Colwin's statement on the topic: "Anyone who spends time in the kitchen eventually comes to realize that what she or he is looking for is the perfect chocolate cake."
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to this perfect chocolate cake, and they usually fall somewhere into Colwin's three types: flourless, fudgy, and cocoa.
Some chocolate cakes are completely flourless - quivering mousses of pure cacao. Some are closer to a brownie with a crackly crust. Others, often found in grocery store bakeries, appear to be dry sponge cakes colored brown. The latter put me off chocolate cake for a long time - I'm a fudge girl, myself. But this recipe changed that for me.
This is a cake cake, with a traditional cakey texture - light, spongy, moist. It has a beautiful shiny top, a springy middle, and it is also another easy, one-bowl recipe. And yet it tastes deeply of chocolate, with dark, almost bitter notes that penetrate the whole bite. It isn't "Death by Chocolate;" it isn't a dense fudgy flourless torte; it's a simple yet true chocolate cake, suitable for layering and frosting.
This was originally a Hershey's recipe; it makes sense, I suppose, that they would have perfected a chocolate cake by now.
Dark Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round cakes or three 8-inch round cakes
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans, or three 8-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Mix in boiling water - the batter will be quite thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then tap the cakes out of the pans. Cool completely before frosting.