This Is the Chocolate Cake That Saved My Christmas

updated Oct 16, 2019
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Last year, as I was planning to host family for the holidays, I was deep into the final trimester of my third pregnancy. Even the thought of making meals for everyone was exhausting. I tried to freeze as many meals ahead of time as I could, although it meant we ate mostly soup and chili for the week around Christmas.

Somehow, my then 6-year-old got it into her head that we needed to have a chocolate cake for dessert on Christmas. It wasn’t something we’d ever done before, but I wanted to be game — I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate cake? Still, thinking about baking a layer cake while hosting a house full of guests, with wrapping paper strewn all over the place, and my giant self so very pregnant wasn’t exactly my idea of a relaxing holiday afternoon. That’s when I turned to Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s Feed a Crowd Chocolate Cake, and it really saved the day.

This cake is amazing! Aimée promises in the recipe that you can bake the cake and frost it, then you can stick the entire thing into the freezer to pull out on a future day. I didn’t fully believe that this would work — who freezes a giant frosted cake? — but when I saw that the cake originally came from Ruth Reichl, I was sold.

Not only was it perfectly good after being frozen, but it was also hands-down the best cake I’ve ever baked.

The original recipe makes enough for 20 people — it’s a two-layer cake made with two 9×13-inch pans — but we didn’t have nearly that big of a crowd, so I cut the recipe in half and made a two-layer eight-inch cake. My daughter and I baked it together a week ahead, when the house was empty. We gave it generous layers of whipped chocolate cream cheese frosting and festive holiday sprinkles. It was tough not to sample it before we packed it away into the freezer, but we stayed strong.

Then I pulled it from the freezer on Christmas, and it thawed into the perfect Christmas dessert.

In fact, it also turned out to be a perfect dessert for New Year’s Eve! We only ate half of the cake the first time around, so I wrapped it back up and refroze it, and we used it to help ring in the New Year! Even with all the freezing and thawing, it had the exact same taste and texture. It really started our year off on a delicious note. And, spoiler alert, it’s now become our go-to family birthday cake!

Amy Palanjian is a writer, editor, and the founder of Yummy Toddler Food, a site filled with practical feeding advice and wholesome, happy recipes for families with little kids at the table. She’s also the co-host of the Comfort Food podcast and is a member of the new Kitchn Collective.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. And we decided to start sharing some of our absolute favorites with you. Here’s a peek into what we’re cooking and eating in our own kitchens.