Easy Chocolate Cake

Every one should have an easy chocolate cake recipe that they can “whip” together on the spur of the moment with simple ingredients (and one simple enough to memorize). This one is it. Why? Because it’s 5 common ingredients, 4 of them with the same weight, and eggs — not counting baking powder which is an “obvious” one to add, or you could use self-rising flour… but that’s not commonly found in the US. For a change, it’s even easier to remember in oz than in grams: 5 oz each of butter, chocolate, flour, & sugar & 5 eggs! Note that you need a scale whether you use metric measurements or ounces as the recipe calls for WEIGHT ounces, not fluid ounces; if you don’t have a scale, get one. They are inexpensive and take very little room.

Use the best ingredients you can afford: since the cake is really simple, it will only be as good as the ingredients you use. I prefer a chocolate like Santa Barbara, Guittard, or Valhrona, and a good quality all purpose flour like King Arthur. I use butter from pastured cows (and I really like Kerry Gold), and eggs from my hens. Nonetheless, if you are just whipping it together with ingredients from the pantry, then use what you have on hand…. even milk chocolate will do if that all you have. Because sometimes, you just want chocolate cake.

It’s an easy recipe to customize or dress up by substituting nut flour or other flour for some of the all-purpose flour (up to 1/3 by weight); by adding a glug of brandy or dark rum; by dropping in a handful of chopped crystallized ginger (or chocolate chips etc). It’s just like the little black dress: simply beautiful by itself, it will also benefit from all kinds of adornments…

  • 150 g (5 oz) salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add a good pinch of salt to the flour)
  • 150 g (5 oz) dark chocolate
  • 150 g (5 oz) sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 150 g (5 oz) all-purpose flour + 1 Tablespoon of baking powder (or 150 g self-rising flour)

Melt butter with dark chocolate over double-boiler (Bain-Marie). Off the heat, whisk in sugar, then the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Finally mix in the flour (with a spatula) + 1 T baking powder, as well as pinch of salt if using unsalted butter. Pour in buttered and floured pan (either a bundt pan, or a 3-inch tall x 9-inch diameter round pan [7.5 cm tall x 23 cm diameter). Bake 40-45mn at 325-350 F ( 165-175 C) until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. I often will do 20 minutes at 350 then 325.

Let cool, then frost/ice with your favorite icing/frosting. I like a simple ganache, made by heating gently 100 g (3.5 oz) of heavy whipping cream, with 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate, whisking until the chocolate melts. Then whisk in a pat of butter. Let cool until somewhat harden. If using a bundt pan, drip the still-pourable (but thick) ganache on the cake without covering it entirely. If using a round cake cake, let the ganache harden until spreadable, and then spread on top and on the side of thecake. This quantity of ganache will generously ice the round cake, you will have some left if using a bundt-pan. Just eat it!

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