There is a birthday at our house this weekend; the perfect occasion to try a new cake recipe. This chocolate bundt cake, called “Grammy Cake” by the cookbook author, Julie Richardson, is amazing! I borrowed Ms. Richardson’s book, “Vintage Cakes” from the library and realized yesterday that it’s due back tomorrow! I had to make a quick decision as to which of the many fabulous cakes I wanted to try, and this was it. Now I know why the page was dog-eared. Ms. Richardson describes this as “the cake of my father’s childhood”, made by her grandmother (Grammy) for birthdays and special occasions. It’s a simple cake; there is no mixer required, no creaming of butter and sugar, no frosting (unless you want a little ganache glaze), just pure chocolate flavor. I used a fancy tube pan and I love how the sharp edges have a little crunch to them. It’s a perfect contrast with the moist, fine-crumbed interior of the cake. You can dress it up with chocolate ganache glaze or use the ganache as a chocolate sauce (like I did), along with some ice cream on the side. Either way, this one’s a keeper, destined to be a family favorite chez Devil’s Food.
(makes 8-10 servings)
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) lightly packed, unsweetened natural cocoa (not alkalized)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting, or 3/4 cup Chocolate Ganache, for glazing*
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-cup metal fluted tube pan (or spray with cooking spray with flour). Whisk together the cocoa and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk in the boiling water; the mixture will bubble. Add the butter cubes and oil and whisk occasionally to melt the butter. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Sift together the flour, sugars, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed. Add the eggs and vanilla to the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients while stirring with a rubber spatula; stop stirring once the mixture is just combined and is free of lumps. Pour the mixture into the prepared tube pan and place in the center of the oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate. Grammy Cake tastes great when still warm with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar sifted through a fine-mesh sieve. For a fancier version, pour warm chocolate ganache over the cooled cake. This cake is a good keeper (and shipper!) when well wrapped and kept at room temperature. It should last up to 5 days.
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a brisk simmer, stirring occasionally. Pour the cream over the chocolate and swirl the bowl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered with the hot cream. Let stand for 5 minutes. Slowly stir the mixture, starting with small circles in the middle and working your way outward until you have a smooth glossy mixture. Allow to cool for a few minutes (until just warm), then pour 3/4 cup over the cake. Any leftover ganache can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days.
(minimally adapted from “Vintage Cakes” by Julie Richardson)