You should always have a one-bowl cake or two in your recipe arsenal and this one, for a simple chocolate cake with or without frosting, fits the bill perfectly. Sometimes you just need a chocolate cake — because it’s your birthday, because it’s the weekend, because you need a slice of something sweet to go with your afternoon cup of earl grey tea, because you have that bit of buttermilk in the fridge that needed to be used yesterday.
My version of a simple chocolate cake doesn’t involve melting chocolate nor does it involve butter. This might seem like sacrilege but I’m not fussy. I like to serve it as a one layer cake so I don’t have to use more than one baking pan and so that I don’t have to get into the whole business of cutting cake layers. It’s supposed to be simple, yeah?
I was talking with friends today and mentioned a reason I like to bake is because I do like to experiment a bit, either by swapping different flours in and out or changing the type of fat, or maybe eliminating the eggs altogether. I keep to the bones of a recipe, and often keep to it absolutely, but despite baking being a rather exact science I do believe there’s room for the occasional fiddle. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my baked goods either by using applesauce or bananas or by using maple syrup or honey in place of white sugar which means I can use less sweetener overall. And of course I always like to sneak in whole grain flours whenever possible. In this recipe I used a basic mix of oat flour and sweet white rice flours, kept the sugar as-is, and switched out the vegetable oil for coconut oil. This change lent the barest flavor of coconut that probably would have gone undetected if I hadn’t been looking for it (and which I didn’t mind at all). I’d like to try again with using maple syrup for the brown sugar or at least reducing the amount.
I frosted my cake with a salted peanut butter frosting because it was my birthday and I dearly love that combination of peanut butter and chocolate any day of the year. You could also serve this plain, with a little whipped cream or ice cream. This one-bowl gem comes together in a snap; enjoy.
Need I even mention that this is a one-bowl affair, which always gets my vote when look for a quick cake to bake? It’s also egg-free, relying on buttermilk and baking soda for its lift. The result is a dense, almost fudgy cake that can be served plain or dusted with powdered sugar, or, as I did for my birthday cake, with a swatch of salted peanut butter frosting. If you don’t need to keep gluten-free, use one cup whole wheat pastry flour and one-half cup all-purpose flour. To make vegan, substitute one cup non-dairy milk of choice ‘curdled’ with one teaspoon white vinegar for the buttermilk.
1 cup (gluten-free) oat flour
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter and and line with parchment paper one 8 or 9-inch round cake pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk, coconut oil and vanilla extract, and whisk together very well to combine.
Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Place in the oven and bake about 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool 5 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
For the salted peanut butter frosting
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Salt to taste
In a large bowl, cream the peanut butter and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and keep mixing until smooth and creamy. Add as much or as little salt as you like.