For me baking has always been very therapeutic from the entire process of selecting a recipe then gathering the ingredients to finally presenting the finished product to friends and family – creating something with basic ingredients and some kitchen gadgetry and then hoping that everyone will go “oh, that’s so delicious” – that just makes all the time and effort that’s put in seem so worthwhile.
People who have eaten baked stuff made by me are so used to me randomly adding ingredients like a dash of cinnamon or a bit of coffee powder or maybe some zest (depending on whats in season); I know that baking is an art and you are supposed to follow the recipe exactly, but while I will always follow the methodology I have this habit of always changing the recipe just a little bit. I always taste the final batter and adjust if required. It’s become so habitual that nowadays when I don’t do this random tweaking, I usually get a response that something seems to be missing.
One of my favourite cakes to make, also the most requested is this one bowl chocolate cake; I think I found this recipe in some magazine and it was titled “Magic Cake” and it was a pretty magical cake in terms of how easy it was – first add the dry ingredients then the wet ingredients then beat it for 2 minutes and bake: no creaming, no separating of eggs, no folding in the dry ingredients just dump it all in and your ultra-moist & chocolatey cake is ready to serve.
Later when my horizons for recipe searching increased (specifically in the days of broadband internet), I found out that this recipe is actually by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) known as Beatty’s Chocolate Cake and is similar to the Hershey’s Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Oil, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (1 cup milk + 2.5 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice; leave for 10 minutes till the milk curdles)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup coffee (1 cup hot water + 1.5 tsp coffee powder)
For Random Tweaking: I recommend adding a teaspoon of cinnamon powder; or a teaspoon of orange/lemon zest depending on what’s in season; increase the flavor of coffee by adding 3 tsp of coffee powder instead of 1.5 tsp
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a big bowl. Use a fork to mix all the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add all the wet ingredients. Use a spatula or a spoon to just barely mix the dry and the wet ingredient; the reason I do this is so that when I beat the mixture, it doesn’t splatter. Beat for 2 minutes, using a spatula to scrape the bowl. Please note that the batter will not be thick as regular cake batters, but will be a bit liquid.
Frost with your favourite ganache topping or dust with icing sugar and serve.
Note: The texture of this cake is ultra-moist, hence I find it unsuitable for mold pans; similarly, I prefer icing it with a simple ganache or a glaze on it;