Simple Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Some days making a cake (let alone getting off the couch) seems like the biggest chore. Those are the days when I really appreciate near-instantaneous treats like blondies and chocolate crunch slice. Other days, I need no excuse whatsoever to make a three-tiered masterpiece. And then there are those in between days when nothing but cake will do, but I have no time/patience/wherewithal to bake one. And it’s days like that when I really appreciate recipes like these.
Everyone should have these two recipes on hand because, more often than not, baking a birthday/going away/thank you/anniversary/congratulations cake from scratch is a laughable prospect. It could take hours, involve lots and lots of dirty dishes, many millions of steps, multiple trips to the supermarket, and, potentially, a nervous breakdown.
But this cake recipe is easy-peasy, dirties only two bowls (!), and most likely doesn’t require a trip farther than to your pantry. Same goes for the frosting recipe, which is, as its name implies, extremely delicious.
The recipes looked simple, straightforward, classic, delicious. I was sold. Only problem was, once I tasted them, I had a hard time controlling myself and things got a little out of hand…
The cake was chocolatey and moist, the frosting rich but not greasy or overly sweet. They were perfect! They were perfect together, separately, on my fingers, off the counter, from the bowl. I had found my go-to simple chocolate cake and a frosting recipe that would make angels sing. By the time I had calmed myself and wiped the frosting off the camera and my face, I realized that cake had been exactly what I needed. Thankfully, I had enough left over to serve for dessert. Because yesterday was one of those days when everyone needed a little piece of cake.
SIMPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE
I used this recipe to make 2 mini and one large 2-tiered cakes, but you can use it for whatever you want, from cupcakes to sheet cake. Recipe from The Pioneer Woman.
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons (heaping) cocoa
1 cup (225 grams / 2 sticks) butter
1 cup boiling water
½ cups buttermilk (or milk with lemon juice added)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
In a saucepan, melt the butter, then add the cocoa and stir together.
Add the boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over the flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
In another bowl, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into cake pan and bake at 350°F/180°C for 20 minutes (for a sheet cake) or 30 for a round cake. These times are totally dependent on the size/shape of your cake pan. Your cake will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Cool completely before cutting or frosting.
SIMPLE VANILLA FROSTING
Also known around The Internet as “The Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had.” You be the judge. It is quite soft at room temperature, but hardens nicely in the fridge. Recipe also from The Pioneer Woman.
Makes enough to cover one sheet cake or a batch of cupcakes. Make more if you intend to use it to frost the inside and outside of a normal sized cake.
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup / 225 g / 2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar (not powdered sugar!)
In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) Stir in vanilla.
While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.