19 February 2010

Black Magic Cake


Once upon a time, for a brief moment or two, I wanted to be a cake decorator.  I even bought a kit at Michael’s and marked the date of their next decorating class on my calendar. 

Then I made a boxed cake and went to town with a simple tub of Pillsbury or Betty Crocker icing, hoping to make an aesthetic dessert for my family.  I can’t remember exactly what happened but I do recall quite a bit of cussing and possibly a bit of foot  stomping.  I switched knives and spatulas a few times.  I got icing in my hair and on my shoe.  It was a mess. 

And a learning experience.  I won’t ever be Martha Stewart. Or Bakerella.  I will however continue to make cake.  And eat it too. 

Now I have a different approach.  I aim to make so tasty a cake that it isn’t around long enough for anyone to even take notice of what it looks like. 

On Valentine’s Day every year we celebrate our Golden Retriever’s birthday.  He’s a big dumb lug that we brought home, or rather I brought home, when we were in the midst of trying to start our family.  I was desperate for something to hold and love and a particular mutt with a waggley tail (and it turns out, a fair bit of neurosis) got my attention.  The couple who gave him to me said he was six weeks old to the day.  I have a feeling they were lying about a few things, namely his purebred parents, but I went straight home and counted back six weeks.  Valentine’s Day.  Ever since we mark the silly dogs birthday on the calendar on the same day as my least favorite holiday of the year.  This year, because we have a house full of two year olds who think singing “Happy Birthday” is as much fun as going to Disney, I made a cake for the dog.  Except the dog wasn’t allowed to have any.  I hear chocolate is lethal to dogs.  I wouldn’t want to risk his life on the very day we celebrate it.

So I tested out a recipe I found on Allrecipes.  As I was measuring out the cocoa I noticed the recipe for Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake.  Turns out the only difference in the cake I was making and the one the Hershey’s company has been promoting for quite sometime was buttermilk instead of milk, coffee instead of boiling water and the swapping of half a teaspoon of baking powder for baking soda.  I use to make the “Perfectly” Chocolate Cake, it was good.  Very good in my opinion.  And then I made it one hot August for my in-laws (before they were my in-laws) and on the trip to their house for dinner it got so hot in our unconditioned car that the top layer slid away from the bottom.  It wasn’t pretty and I was scarred from ever making it again. I was already in the midst of making the cake on Sunday however, so I continued on. 

But even this cake baking experience wasn’t without a tale of it’s own.  You see I’d bought a heart shaped pan to use and I failed to read the instructions that clearly read ‘do not fill more than halfway full’.  I filled it more than half way full.  I filled it more like two thirds of the way full. And baked it for 40 minutes before finally worrying that the outer edges were going to be overdone before the center ever finished cooking.  So I removed it from the oven and watched it, and my heart, sink. 

There is a possibility I’m just not cut out for cake baking either. Probably won’t stop me from trying though.  This cake, regardless of it’s appearance, was rich and moist.  The center was a little undone but we just cut around the center.  In the future when I make a heart shaped cake I will make sure to fill it no more than halfway full.  I will just use the extra batter for a few cupcakes. 

But then again, what good would a cake be without its own story?

I can, however, whip up frosting without incident.  I topped this cake with a Butter Cream frosting that I came across when making cupcakes for the twins second birthday.  The recipe is from Wilton and it is my favorite. And even though there is little value in it nutritionally it’s mighty tasty on the top of a cake.  It makes a lot, more than you would use for 24 cupcakes or a sheet cake but it can be stored in the fridge for two weeks. If you’re like me you’ll save the frosting in Tupperware for two weeks because you won’t want to waste it before finally accepting the fact that you’re not going to make a cake just to use up the last of the frosting. 

Then, three days later, out of boredom or because the cat is turning twelve, you’ll make more cake and more frosting.

Black Magic Cake


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup fat free buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pan(s).
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa,baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla to dry ingredients. Using an electric mixer beat batter for two minutes on  medium speed. 
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes depending on your cake pan.  After 30 minutes test cake with a toothpick.  Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack and frost with your favorite frosting.

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