I’be been trying to make our Sunday night dinners special — say, a roast chicken and vegetables or what I made for our Easter dinner: lamb, mashed potatoes, asparagus quiche, and buttery carrots (this past Sunday I served store-bought pesto on penne with roasted cauliflower but that’s neither here nor there! We did make homemade pasta recently and will repeat that once I stock up on eggs again). Just something to mark the weekend and the start of a new week that will look suspiciously like the one just passed. The best part about Sunday dinners — in my opinion — is that I make a dessert, usually cake, and often this specific chocolate cake that is best described as a hug in cake form.
Chocolate cake, chocolate cake, how do I love thee?; you are the very fairest of cakes, the truest and bluest and luscious-est of cakes, a cake I covet, a cake I will always choose if there is a choice of cake, a cake that is never a dark horse, a cake that walks by itself through the dark alleys of cakes advertising whimsy and panache and something different maybe with bananas and raspberries and a boozy creme filling — no! I will always, always come back to thee, o best beloved chocolate cake, especially if you boast a good, comforting, delicious sturdy heft and not a hint of dry crumbles and are piled, please and forever, with a fluffy whipped chocolate butter cream.
(I did bake a nice bundt cake on Mother’s day with butter and yogurt and a tart lemon glaze but between you and me in the back of my mind I was biding my time until I could make a chocolate cake the following Sunday.)
My particular favorite chocolate cake, continuing in the theme of favorite recipes I don’t care to mess around with is my forevermore go-to. Back in the days before children — the days when I could pop off to a yoga class after work on a Thursday, go for a two-hour run on a Sunday, waste hours in the library, read the paper in bed with a cup of coffee on the weekends, actually have a conversation with my husband: those days when I was busy but my time was my own — I experimented with different variations of the same recipe and on this site you will, in fact, find at least several very good chocolate cake recipes. I used to be partial to Alice Waters’ chocolate cake from “The Art of Simple Cooking” but I think it called for a mixer and these days I try to keep it as simple as possible. I also don’t fool around much with variations nowadays; when I hit on a good recipe I keep it and repeat it and don’t think about it.
This one comes by way of Sarah Keiffer’s Vanilla Bean Blog and it’s a winner. I have tweaked it a bit and the recipe written below is with my changes — I’ve incorporated olive oil, whole wheat flour, and Greek yogurt and it’s so good so good! I put the batter in a tube pan, make a very chocolatey, velvety buttercream with which to frost it and it’s easy peasy. This is in my every two-week baking rotation or so and it also pops up when I make birthday cakes or cakes for guests back when we actually had guests. And maybe we will have guests again? Fingers and toes are hypothetically crossed. Either way, here’s a hug from me to you in the form of this cake. xo
I’ve made some notes in the recipe below. I like to bake this in a tube pan but have also done it as a layer cake or as cupcakes; it will result in 2 9-inch layers if you go that route.
Makes 12 servings.
1 3/4 cup flour — I use either all whole wheat pastry flour or an equal mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour
2 cups sugar — may use brown sugar if you wish
3/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a tube pan. Have a baking sheet ready.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, milk, olive oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Then add the coffee and whisk lightly or stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place the pan on the baking sheet to catch any drips, and place in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (you want it medium-soft)
1/2 cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
1-2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
In a large bowl, whip the butter with a mixer until it is smooth and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and the powdered sugar and whip to combine, then add the milk (more if needed) to make a smooth, fluffy frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting.