This week I made two chocolate cakes. Both were oil (rather than butter) based. One was a triumph and the other... the less said about it the better. The big difference in the recipes was in the choice of chocolate. The flop used melted dark chocolate, the success story cocoa.
This cake - from former Chez Panisse chef Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat - is deliciously dark and amazingly, dairy-free (should you choose to serve without the cream). It's brilliant for birthdays and celebrations, and easy enough for weekday cooking. Because of the oil, it keeps beautifully so can always be made ahead of time. Not that it's at all labour intensive. Including cooking time, it takes about forty minutes. So simple. Spectacular. Sold.
Chocolate midnight cake
Adapted from Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat
I dotted raspberries into each layer of vanilla cream for some tartness and colour. You could always make one large cake and serve vanilla cream on the side as the cake itself is dairy-free. Or just skip the vanilla cream and dust with icing sugar.
1/2 cup (2 oz) Dutch-process/good quality cocoa
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups (9 1/4 oz) flour
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (I used canola)
1 1/2 cups boiling water, or freshly brewed coffee (I used coffee)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
vanilla cream, optional (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place rack in upper third of oven.
Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
Sift cocoa, sugar, salt, flour and baking soda into a large bowl.
Stir vanilla and oil together. Bring the water to a boil or brew the coffee. Add it to the oil-vanilla mixture.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually whisk in the water-oil til incorporated. Gradually whisk in the eggs and stir til smooth. The mixture will be thin.
Divide batter evenly between the two tins, tapping the bottoms of them on the bench a few times to remove any air bubbles before putting in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean.
Cool cakes completely on a wire rack, then turn out. If serving with vanilla cream, slice risen tops off each cake to create a relatively flat surface - it doesn't matter if you're not super-even as they will soon be covered in cream!
Place one layer on a plate and spread with half of the vanilla cream. Top with second layer and spoon remaining vanilla cream on the top. Refrigerate for two hours before serving.
Combine one cup heavy/whipping cream with one and a half teaspoons sugar and one teaspoon vanilla extract and whisk til soft peaks form.