Weather: 35 degrees, unusual rain
What I’m listening to: Call You Home, Kelvin Jones
Cake has a certain intimidation factor associated with it that many other baked goods do not. Some fear that their cakes might fall or collapse in the oven, developing an unfortunate culinary sinkhole of sorts. Others fear that their cakes might turn out crumbly and dry, or heavy and dense. Sometimes cakes come out of the oven lopsided, making for a wonky finished product. Occasionally a cake gets stuck in the pan when we try to turn it out, breaking apart in a disappointing mess, difficult to repair or salvage. Perhaps this is how cake pops were invented – layer cakes gone terribly, disastrously wrong, leaving only shattered cake and globs of frosting. And speaking of frosting, that’s in a category of intimidation all its own.
Now that I have you good and terrified of ever attempting a cake from scratch, let me tell you that this is the only chocolate cake recipe I ever make – Beatty’s Chocolate Cake by Ina Garten. I have been making it for years for birthdays and special occasions and it has never let me down. It’s tender and moist, with rich chocolate flavor, bolstered by freshly brewed coffee in the batter. I have never once had trouble getting the layers out of the pans or assembling this cake. The frosting is excellent, a beautiful milk chocolate color, and not too sweet. But I’ve also made this chocolate cake recipe with different frostings and fillings throughout the years. Chocolate never goes out of season. A pumpkin cream cheese frosting would be beautiful for October. Try peppermint frosting and crushed candy canes come winter. Or a pure white coconut frosting topped with lofty coconut shavings resembling freshly fallen snow. By request, I’ve transformed this cake into cupcakes for my children’s classrooms at school as well. I would be hard-pressed to find a reason to ever bake a different chocolate cake recipe.