For many, many years, I’ve been trying all sorts of recipes for chocolate cake. I’ve tried magazine recipes. I’ve scoured the internet. But I keep coming back to this recipe mainly because it doesn’t require any extraordinary ingredients (just the stuff I normally keep in my pantry) and the method is quite simple.This is also the recipe that I used for making the twins’ Beach Cake.

Mom’s Chocolate Cake
(from AllRecipes.Net) 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening (or butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup hot, brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking pan.

Put the shortening (or butter) into your mixing bowl…

…and beat until fluffy.

Pour in the sugar about 1/3 cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy. (This step is often referred to in cake recipes as ‘creaming the sugar and shortening’.)

 Add the eggs one at time…

…and mix well.

Do not overbeat. When you reach this consistency, it’s time to stop beating.

Stir in the dry ingredients (cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda) alternately with the wet ingredients (milk and vanilla extract) a little at a time, approximately about 1/3 cup each time.

 Make sure you scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl every once in a while using a spatula.

If you have some vanilla beans on hand, split the vanilla bean open with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way to the other side.

Open up the bean and scrape out the creamy black gold hidden inside, using the back of a small knife…

…and put it into the batter.

Don’t throw away the used vanilla bean. Chuck it into your sugar pot to make your sugar wonderfully vanilla-scented. Vanilla-scented sugar is absolutely delightful with tea!

For the boiling coffee which the recipe requires, what I do is take a Pyrex (glass) measuring cup, put in a cup of water inside, then add some instant coffee. I then put it inside the microwave. Once it has boiled,  I take it out and pour it into the batter…

…and mix using a spatula until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Do not overbake so as to keep the cake moist and soft.

Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before taking out from the pan. Allow to cool completely on a cake rack before decorating with icing.

Quick icing option: melt some cooking chocolate and spread all over the cake, then decorate with coloured sprinkles and/or chocolate chips.

All ingredients follow the original recipe at AllRecipes.Net. It’s only the method that I’ve modified. The original instructions simply read:-

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. Cream the sugar and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the cocoa, milk, flour, baking powder, boiling coffee, baking soda and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Tips For Making The Perfect Cake:-

  • Cake-decorating may be an art but cake-making is a science. Measure/weigh your ingredients carefully. If you watch cooking shows on TV, chefs like Michael Smith and Jamie Oliver may wing it when cooking stews and soups, but when it comes to cakes, they take out their measuring cups and weighing scales and use the exact amount of ingredients required for the recipe.
  • All ingredients must be at room temperature. Take out your butter, milk and eggs from the refrigerator some 15-30 minutes prior to mixing so that they can be at room temperature by the time you start making your cake.
  • When measuring your ingredients by cup or tablespoon/teaspoon, level the ingredient using a knife or the handle of spoon. Do not press down the flour/sugar/baking powder/baking soda. Do not shake the cup to make the flour settle.
  • Always preheat your oven, at least 15 minutes before putting in the cake. I usually turn on the oven just before I start mixing the ingredients together.
  • If the recipe asks you to grease and flour a pan, do so before you start mixing the ingredients. This way, you can straightaway pour the batter into the pan right after you finish mixing the ingredients.
  • Mix in one direction. My mom has taught me to do this ever since I was a little girl and I’ve always done this. I’m not sure what the reason for this is, but come to think of it — all stand mixers only mix in one direction.

Trivia: If Malaysia were to hold a competition for ‘Most Popular Cake’, the chocolate cake would win hands down. That’s one of the things I noticed when I first came here — Malaysians just looove chocolate cake.

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