And then I can tell you that I don’t really have a good answer other than I love this cake recipe so much. It’s so easy and so delicious, despite the fact that this cake is like the green smoothie of the chocolate cake world. No eggs, no butter, and a scant amount of oil and sugar.
It’s practically a health food.
So naturally I topped it with an butter and egg laden, espresso and vanilla-studded Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting.
How about I couldn’t decide which one I loved more — the cake or the frosting.
On one hand, the cake is the easiest cake in the world. Two bowls, one cake pan, and no mixer. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and while it bakes away in the oven for a little under an hour, you can get started on the frosting. The result is a deep chocolate flavor that’s not overly sweet, but extra moist.
On the other hand, the frosting is impossibly light, smooth, and creamy with the perfect combination of vanilla and coffee. It spreads like a dream and tastes like I imagine clouds would.
Italian Meringue Buttercream can be a little finicky, but I assure you that the results are well worth it. Make sure you have a good candy thermometer, a steady hand, and all the patience you can muster. The key to getting perfectly smooth frosting is making sure that your butter is completely and totally room temperature (somewhere between 70-75 degrees F) and then add it one small bit at a time, waiting for it to be completely incorporated before adding more. This is very important.
Should your frosting fall or break as you add the butter, don’t panic. It can almost always be brought back together by turning your mixer on its highest setting and beating the bajeezus out of it. If it still won’t come together and you happen to have a kitchen blow torch at your disposal, go ahead and heat up the sides of the mixing bowl for a few seconds.
For the cake, I’ve included the weights for the dry ingredients, measured in grams. I prefer to use the gram measurements since I so often get a much denser cake when I measure using volume. Lastly, if you want to go ahead and make a really easy, really delicious, and really vegan chocolate cake, you can skip the frosting altogether and just serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Though, I can’t say I’d recommend forgoing the vanilla latte buttercream.
- 1½ (210 grams) cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 grams) water
- ¼ cup (50 grams) canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons dark molasses
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water, cooled
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla, and molasses. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and gently mix together with a wooden spoon just until the flour is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the batter into a round 6 X 3 inch cake pan that has been greased and floured. Bake in the center of a preheated 350 degree F oven for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about an hour in the pan. Then, slide a knife around the edges to loosen and invert the pan onto a cooling rack. Turn the cake right side up and continue to cool completely.
- The cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days at room temperature.
- While cake is baking and/or cooling, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Using a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pan, bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook until it reaches 247 degrees F. It'll take about 7-10 minutes.
- While the water and sugar are heating up, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whisk on medium until egg whites are foamy and you have stiff peaks.
- As soon as the sugar reaches 247 degrees F, pour it into a heat proof measurer. You'll need to watch it carefully toward the end and be very careful while pouring it into a different container. With the mixer on medium, drizzle a few tablespoons of the sugar mixture into the egg whites, being careful not to splatter. Whisk for a few seconds and then pour in a few more tablespoons. Repeat this last step until all the sugar is incorporated. When all the sugar is has been added, raise the speed of the mixer to high and continue to whisk until the entire mixture cools to room temperature (about 70 degrees F). This will take around 10 minutes.
- Once the meringue is room temperature (the temperature is very important), reduce the speed to medium and add the room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time, taking care to mix fully in between additions. If you add the butter too quickly, the mixture will deflate and may begin to break apart. If this happens, stop adding butter, raise the speed of the mixer for a few minutes until it begins to come back together. This step can take a long time and requires a lot of patience. Once all the butter has been added though, it will be impossibly smooth. Add the vanilla and espresso, whisking to combine.
- To assemble the cake, make sure the cake is completely cooled. Level the top with a sharp serrated knife. Then, using the same knife, make a horizontal cut through the middle of the cake. One trick to ensure even layers is to make sure your wrist is completely level and doesn't move up or down while cutting through the cake. Take the top layer and place it cut down down on a cake plate. Spread about a half cup of frosting on the first layer of cake and then place the second layer of cake, cut down down, on top of the first. Spread another cup or so of frosting around the sides and top of the cake. Use an offset spatula and/or a bench scraper to spread the frosting and make it smooth. If you have a turntable, this is a great time to use it.
- I used a #1M star tip and chocolate covered espresso beans to decorate my cake, though I suspect it would look magnificent with some ganache drizzled down the sides for a more of a mocha cake.