Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best Chocolate Cake - Spider Web Design




This is my favorite go-to chocolate cake. I've made it countless times over the last 20 years and it always turns out beautifully moist and delish! I got this from Peta's "The Compassionate Cookbook" circa 1992 or thereabouts. Not sure if it's still in print. I just made two tiny changes to make it more to my taste. I use half  brown sugar and half white instead of all white sugar. I add an extra 1 tablespoon instant coffee in addition to the 4 tablespoons cocoa powder. So if you prefer a cake with all white sugar go for it! And if you don't like or have instant coffee on hand just use all cocoa powder! You can use 5 tablespoons melted margarine in place of the oil. I prefer oil myself and use organic canola as it has a neutral flavor. Also don't forget to spoon your flour into the measuring cups and levelling off at top or your cake will not turn out as nice and fluffy! You'll end up with about a 1/4 cup more flour if you just dig your cup into the bag of flour as is typical and I used to do! It will be completely edible but it will be denser.

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar
5 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step #1 - Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make sure your ingredients are very well mixed together because you don't want little lumps of baking soda to ruin your cake. If you have one handy it's best to use a  sieve and that way you're assured of a lump free mixture! Or use your nice clean hands and rub between your hands to do the same job (more or less)!

Step#2 - Measure out and stir together your wet ingredients into another container.

Step#3 - Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients. Mix together reasonably gently.

I used a round layer pan to make the cake in photo. I cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan and I used a bit of coconut oil to grease the sides lightly. It came out easily. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes!  Check at 20 to make sure. Toothpick test showed it needed a little longer baking and another 5 minutes did the trick. All depends on your oven and size of your layer pan.

I used the standard vanilla butter icing!  About 4 tablespoons margarine, 1 tablespoon soy milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups icing sugar. Add more icing sugar if required.  I used a hand held mixer to make it nice and fluffy!  Wooden spoon works reasonably well  if you want a workout!  

For the "spider web drizzle" - I melted about 1/2 cup chocolate chips plus about 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of soft becel vegan margarine in a ceramic bowl in the microwave. It doesn't take long - about a minute. Don't do it much longer or you will get a burned chocolate taste that is very unpleasant. It doesn't even need to look completely melted together before taking out of microwave. I usually see a few whole chocolate chips in it - take it out anyhow and just beat together. It will be nice and smooth and have best flavor that way. Let it cool for a minute or two on the counter.  I take a small plastic baggie - snip a small piece of one corner and fill with chocolate.  Now just make circles around the cake till you get to center. Place large pool of chocolate there. Get a butter knife and starting from center just draw your knife through down to side of your cake. Make as many or as little as you like!  It's a nice easy design for beginner decorator like me!

I should have made two layers and put them together with strawberry jam but I made do with one layer. I carefully sliced it in half and smeared jam on both sides and put back together. It was a bit of a challenge to slice such a thin layer but you can make it work if you are careful!  Next time I think I will double recipe and make two layers. And perhaps also put a thin layer of butter icing along with the jam. This recipe makes a dozen cupcakes! Only bake for 18-20 minutes though!

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