Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Six Minute Chocolate Cake

As you may recall, I've been participating in 52 Weeks of Baking Swap on Swapbot.  I'm really enjoying this swap!  It's a great opportunity to sort through the pile of 'to try' recipes.  I've been intrigued by this recipe for chocolate cake.   It's vegan, thrifty, and made with ingredients that most people have in their pantry.  For those of you who share my dislike of dirty dishes: YOU MIX IT RIGHT IN THE PAN!  The recipe and my evaluation are below.

The recipe is included in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home by Mollie Katzen, who credits a 1976 "House and Garden" magazine as the source.

Six Minute Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 C unbleached white flour
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C cold water or coffee
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 T vinegar

GLAZE (optional)
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate
3/4 C hot water, milk, or half and half
1/2 t pure vanilla extract    

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Sift together the dry ingredients directly into an ungreased 8" square or 9" round baking pan.  In a 2 C measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, water or coffee and vanilla.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk.  When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly.  There will be pale swirls in the batter where the baking soda and the vinegar are reacting.  Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Set the cake aside to cool, and if you choose to make the glaze, reset the oven to 300 degrees.

    For the glaze, melt the chocolate in a small ovenproof bowl or heavy skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Stir the hot liquid and the vanilla into the chocolate until smooth.  Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake.  Refrigerate the cooled cake for 30 minutes before serving.

What I learned:

Instead of sifting, I whisked the dry ingredients together in the pan. It worked well. Just be gentle or you will have a cloud of flour. The batter came together easily. The weirdest thing was the yellowish streaks from the vinegar and baking soda reacting. It looked strange but posed no difficulties. The cake rose evenly in the oven, and kept it's nice high crown even though I accidentally slammed the oven door.

I did not make the glaze, although recipe is included below. The recipe suggests dusting with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, or your favorite frosting and to serve with whipped cream, ice cream, fresh fruit, or orange compote.

I am totally pleased with this recipe. It's a simple and elegant chocolate cake with a firm yet tender texture. It was delicious plain. Glazed or served with any of the above suggestions will make a fine choice for company. I plan to stock the pantry with bittersweet chocolate for the next time.

8" cake pan
2 C liquid measuring cup
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
thin bladed spatula to help release the cake from the pan

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