Thursday, February 11, 2010

Evolved chocolate cake

My mom is an amazing cake decorator. I learned a bit from her and, on occasion, I like to decorate cakes as well. So when the McMaster Association of Secular Humanists (of which I am an exec) decided to throw Darwin a birthday party on Darwin Day, I knew I had to make the cake. Originally I was going to go with a traditional frosted cake with a design on it, but I couldn't think of anything more inspiring than a Darwin fish which, while its poignant, is pretty basic and boring. In my state of lack of imagination, I decided to ask my favourite sciency chef, Ms. Humble, for some ideas, to which she replied, "Off the top of my head I would do (the most amazing cake idea ever)." The result? The yummy, easy, chocolate cake you see below. The cake itself (recipe posted below the picture) is incredibly easy to assemble, tastes moist and flavourful, and can stand alone without iciing without being too sweet. It's a great recipe to have on hand when you need a dessert asap.

Happy Darwin Day, world!

Chocolate Cake, Quick & Easy

Ingredient List

butter, unsalted (½ cup)
coffee, freshly brewed (½ cup)
cocoa powder, Dutch-process (¼ cup)
AP flour (1 cup)
granulated sugar (1 cup)
baking powder
baking soda
table salt
sour cream (¼ cup)
egg (1 large)
vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and a round piece of parchment paper.

Place ¼ cup cocoa powder and ½ cup butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Pour over ½ cup coffee. Cover with plastic wrap, poking a few holes for venting, and microwave until all of the butter has melted. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine: 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup sugar, ¼ tsp baking powder, ⅛ tsp baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt.

Beat together in a small bowl: ¼ cup sour cream, 1 large egg, ½ tsp vanilla extract.

Whisk the coffee mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the sour cream mixture, do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake, in the pan, on a rack, for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and return to rack until the cake has cooled completely.

Sprinkle over icing sugar and/or serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes 6 servings

Substitute cocoa powder for flour coating when preparing a cake pan for a chocolate cake.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 381
Total fat 19 g
Saturated fat 12 g
Cholesterol 76 mg
Sodium 223 mg
Carbohydrate 52 g
Dietary fibre 2 g
Sugars 34 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin A 11 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 3 %DV
Iron 9 %DV

Original Source: Food Network Kitchens - Favorite Recipes

Edit: I'm trying a new thing. I'll continue to put the recipe in the body of the post, but I will now offer it as a downloadable PDF as follows:

Download PDF here


  1. Found this through Not So Humble Pie. I am in love with it. The stencil idea is fantastic!

    Out of interest, how did you make it? Cutting those designs from a sheet of paper must have taken FOREVER!

  2. It was actually pretty easy. I printed out the stencil (for a 9x13 cake, you should stick with an 8.5x11 page with 1 inch margins) and then taped it to one side of a file folder (didn't have anything else that thickness). Then I used an exacto knife to cut it out. I put a thick layer of newspaper underneath to absorb the knife point, and it just slid along. Then I removed the paper stencil and used.

    I will, of course, be keeping the stencil for future use. :)