Friday, August 6th, 2010
Traditionally speaking, I am not a big cake baker. I’ll chalk it up to my lack of patience, although working in a cupcake bakery is slowly but surely changing that. Nonetheless, the whole process of evening layers and smoothing frosting really gets on my nerves, so I try to avoid it. That’s why I like cakes like this, that need no frosting and really need no actual cake pans.
I was looking for inspiration the other night and found it, not surprisingly, in this cake. It’s almost ridiculously simple, requires only one bowl, and doesn’t have any annoying frosting issues. I love this cake.
It’s also so wonderfully moist that even after cooling completely, the cake crumbled off the knife in wonderfully messy half-slices. I never said this cake was glamorous. But oh my, is it delicious.
The next time you need to take a dessert or snack to your sunday school class or PTA meeting and consider picking something up at the grocery store, please stop what you are doing and make this cake. Chances are, you have all the necessary ingredients in your pantry and really, life is just better this way.
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9×5×3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan.
High-Altitude Notes: Bake for 55 to 60 minutes at 350°F.
*If you’re using regular or natural cocoa powder rather than Dutch-processed, reduce baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.
**As always, I substituted non-fat vanilla yogurt for buttermilk. I eat it daily and always have it in the house. If you are similarly yogurt-obsessed and go this route, feel free to omit the vanilla extract.