Yesterday was National Chocolate Cake Day and I couldn’t let it pass without honoring our favorite dessert … especially when I could share it with all of you on Chocolate Monday! The cookies I was planning on making just had to wait until next week or the week after, because this is one heck of a great cake and I am thrilled to share it with you!
Gale Gand is one of my favorite chefs and cookbook authors and the original recipes I started with is one of her most requested. Deeply chocolatey, with a tender crumb and rich chocolate filling, it is a cake that anyone would be thrilled to receive or be served after dinner or with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.
One of the directions in the recipe tells us to sift the flours together. A quick and easy way to do this is to use a wire basket like the one above. I set it in a bowl, add the flours and other dry ingredients, and then shake them into the bowl. Whisking will also work or putting everything in a covered container and shaking it hard. The idea is to blend everything evenly and break up any clumps.
I followed the cake recipe exactly with the exception of substituting the gluten-free cake flour blend that is listed below. I did change the recipe slightly from Gale’s original directions, because it worked better this way with my KitchenAid mixer.
The only thing that really surprised me was the texture of the batter. It was gummy and very thick and required a lot of work to get it into all the corners of the baking pan. I didn’t get the top as smooth as I would have liked, so topping it with the frosting covered up the unevenness and made it look beautiful.
I baked this cake after dinner and it was getting late, so instead of making filling/frosting the recipe calls for, I just whipped up a quick butter/powdered sugar chocolate frosting. I didn’t make quiet enough to fully cover the cake all the way to the edges, which you will notice in some of the photos. But since The Artist doesn’t like frosting much anyway, it was fine.
Because it was the first time I made this recipe and I was converting it to gluten-free (always a crap shoot), The Artist and I did a little quality control and took a bite before I frosted it. It was pretty darn good. And then I added the frosting and cut a piece for photographing. After my shoot was done we both had a bite and declared it was even better.
About 20 minutes later, here comes The Artist again, sneaking into the kitchen to grab another slice. Before heading back upstairs to bed, he turned to me, and with a laugh, cursed Chocolate Mondays because one bite wasn’t enough … he had to have to have another piece before he could get to sleep, LOL!
If you are craving chocolate (probably since you’re following Chocolate Mondays, LOL!) put this cake on your Must Make list. Gale’s idea to crumble up one of the layers and using them to press onto the frosting is brilliant. The cake is easy to make, looks wonderful, and the crumbs cover up any beginner’s mistakes.
Happy Chocolate Monday! Have a wonderful week!!
- 2-1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting (or GF cake flour, recipe follows)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, and more for the pan
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (see Note)
- 1 tsp baking powder (Rumford brand is gluten-free)
- 1 tsp baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill brand is gluten-free)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- Filling / Frosting
- 3 cups water, divided
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (see Note)
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter 2 (9-inch) round cake pans or 1 (9x13-inch) rectangular cake pan. Coat the pans lightly with more flour (gluten-free if using). Line to bottoms of the pan with parchment circles.
- Prepare the Cake: In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 1 stick of butter with the vegetable shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. (At this time of the year, it took every bit of those 3 minutes because the kitchen and ingredients were so cold.) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla. Remove the paddle attachment, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and put on the whisk attachment.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend. Add this mixture slowly to the whipped butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting on low and increasing the speed to high once incorporated. This helps pull in any stubborn pockets of dry ingredients. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until incorporated. Add half the milk and beat until smooth. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, remaining milk, and remaining flour, beating between each addition. Once final flour has been incorporated, increase speed to high for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer, remove whisk attachment, and using a rubber spatula, scrape the bowl and beater, making sure everything is combined and no pockets of dry ingredients remain.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two round cake pans (or all into the single rectangular pan), smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven leave in their pans for 15 minutes. Then invert them onto a wire rack to cook completely. If you made your cake in a 9x13-inch pan, cool and frost the cake in the same pan, making this extremely easy to transport to parties or events.
- Make the Filling/Frosting: In a large saucepan, combined 2-1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
- In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup water until smooth. Whisk this into the boiling chocolate mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until very thick, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in butter, vanilla, and salt. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the filling (helps keep a skin from forming). Let cool, then refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
- To Make a Layer Cake: When the cake layers are completely cooled, use a serrated knife to halve each round cake layer in half horizontally. Take the least attractive top layer and place in a food processor. Pulse until completely crumbled. These crumbs will be used to decorate the outside of the cake.
- Set one of the cake bottom halves on a cake plate and spread with 1-1/2 cups of the filling. Top with the second bottom layer and spread another 1-1/2 cups of filling over that layer. Cover with the cake top, rounded side up, and spread remaining filling all over the top and sides of the cake. Pat the cake crumbs over the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- To Make a Sheet Cake: Spread a thick layer of the filling/frosting over the top of the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting and serving. Use any remaining frosting to top cookies, another cake, or to sandwich two cookies together.
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
- *Natural cocoa powder is one of two types of unsweetened cocoa powder. It is better and adds intense chocolate flavor to the cake. Don’t use Dutch-process or other alkalized cocoa; when combined with baking soda, it can make a cake taste soapy.
- Make Ahead: This chocolate cake can be refrigerated overnight.
- 1-1/4 cup superfine white rice flour (I use Authentic Foods brand.)
- 3/4 cup potato starch (Not potato flour)
- 1/2 cup sorghum or oat flour
- 1/4 cup superfine brown rice flour (or more superfine white rice flour)
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder* (I use Rumford's)
- 2 tsp xanthan gum (or guar gum for corn-free)
- Mix all ingredients well by whisking and shaking. For best results sift together one to two times.
- Yield: Approximately 3 cups.
- If you are making a yellow or white cake you may consider using more white rice flour in place of the brown rice flour, as the mix above makes it a tiny bit brown. Though sorghum is a bit on the brown side, this recipe uses very little and does not affect the yellow color of cake.
- If using this gluten free cake flour blend to substitute for regular all-purpose flour in a recipe, I suggest baking at 350°F, no matter what the recipe calls for, and adding a bit more fat: oil, butter, etc.
Create a New Tradition Today!
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material on The Heritage Cook without prior approval is prohibited. This includes copying and reprinting content and photographs. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email: theheritagecook (at) comcast (dot) net. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com. Please see the Disclaimers page (under the “About” tab above) for additional details.