Monday, August 22, 2011

Cake Series: Chocolate Cake

Sumiko and I enjoy baking and decorating cakes.  I have personally only made birthday cakes/cupcakes and baby shower cakes, but Sumiko has also made bridal shower and wedding cakes.  Since cakes can be so expensive, we figured we'd do a little series on cake making and decorating.  We hope to inspire you to try your hand at cake decorating!  For the next few months, we'll occasionally post different recipes and cake decorating tips/techniques.  If you have any specific questions you'd like answered or anything you'd like to know how to do in relation to cake decorating, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us at kitchendiaries[at]yahoo[dot]com.  We will try our best to answer all your questions!

I'm going to start our cake series with our favorite cake recipe.  Our regular readers know that we prefer to make things from scratch as much as we realistically can.  However, when it comes to cakes, for some reason box mixes just taste better.  I have found a from-scratch cake recipe that I do like and use occasionally, which I'll share at a later time.  For now, though, this is the go-to recipe for both of us.  And you want to know a secret?  Most people can't even tell it's from a box, because it's so good and it doesn't really taste like a box mix!

Before I get to the actual recipe, let me go over some tips on pan preparation.  It doesn't matter if I'm using round pans, square pans, or rectangular pans, I prepare all of them this way.  I start by cutting wax paper to fit into the bottom of the pan and then cut another long strip to cover the sides.

I lay the pan on top of the wax paper and trace around it.  When I cut it, I cut it just inside of the line I've drawn.

These are for the sides of my pans.

When cutting the piece for the sides, you'll want it to be wider (taller) than the pan itself.  Take the long strip, and make a long fold about 1/4-inch from the side, going along the entire length of the piece.  If you're using a round pan, you'll also want to cut slits every 1/4 - 1/3 inch so that you can get it to lay flat on the curves.

Folded along the long edge.

After it's folded, I cut little slits all along the folded edge.

Rub shortening on the bottom and sides of the pan(s).

Place the side piece on, sticking it to the shortening and making sure it's flush up against the sides of the pans.  Place the bottom pieces over the bottom.

The whole inside of your pan should now be covered in wax paper.  This will make it easier to flip the cake out of the pan.

Doctored Cake Mix
1 (18.25 oz) box Devil's food cake mix (we prefer Betty Crocker)
1 (5.9 oz) box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups chocolate chips (optional)*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a mixer (or a large mixing bowl), combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.

Mix for a couple minutes on medium, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add chocolate chips; mix until they're evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the mix into prepared pans, filling no more than 2/3 full.  Bake 35-40 minutes for a 6"x3" round pan or 55-60 minutes for an 8"x3" pan, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (keep in mind there are chocolate chips, so if the toothpick goes through a chocolate chip, it may look like it's not done, even if it is done).

Allow to cool for a few minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.   When you flip them out of the pan, go ahead and pull the wax paper off.  It should just pull off easily.

This makes a very moist, but stable cake.  It is great for stacking cakes, because of it's stability and density (though it's not too dense).

Tip: You can use just about any cake mix/pudding combination with this recipe.  Sumiko likes to use Betty Crocker French vanilla cake mix with vanilla pudding and vanilla chips.  While I haven't personally tried any variation other than the chocolate and vanilla mix, I'm sure there are many other delicious combinations!

A cupcake made with French vanilla cake and vanilla pudding.

*If you will be slicing through the cake to make layers or level the top, we suggest you do not use chocolate chips.  As the knife slices through, it will drag the chocolate chips with it, causing the cake to tear and crumble.  Yeah, we learned this one the hard way.


Kristin said...

After eating those amazingly adorable puppy cupcakes...I can attest to the fact that the cake recipe tastes FANTASTIC!!!! It will be a new staple in my house for birthdays!!!

Beth said...

Perfect timing. My oldest has her birthday 1 month from now. She's asking for strawberry (white) cake with white frosting and whole strawberries and cupcakes too (her theme this year is Strawberry Shortcake...I'm reliving memories of my own birthday YEARS ago). :-) Any tips? I haven't a clue what I'm doing.

Sumiko said...

Beth, I was planning on doing a cupcake post sometime in the near future, so I'll go ahead and try to get it done this week! I remember receiving a Strawberry Shortcake birthday card when I was little!

Beth said...


Rose Gold said...

Thank you for the cake recipe and the great tips! I can't wait to try out your recipe!

Tabby Alligator said...

I always love chocolate cake! But your chocolate cake is the most perfect that I ever saw. I might give this recipe a try. My kids will surely enjoy making this.

Ihjaz Ahmad said...

Oh my goodness, this looks delicious! I’m definitely making this! thanks for sharing!

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