When he was a kid, his mom would ask him what kind of cake he wanted, and the answer was always the same: chocolate. And every year, the cake would show up at dinner and it would be a yellow cake with chocolate frosting or chocolate cake with white frosting or chocolate cake with chocolate frosting ... and then there would be a load of bananas in the filling.
He claims that never once did he get a plain chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
So now I make him chocolate cakes with chocolate frosting. No nuts, no decorations, no sprinkles. Just chocolate on chocolate. But I don't have a favorite recipe. I've probably made a different cake every year. This time, I decided to go with a simple and very old fashioned cake from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.
This cake type of cake has been known by a lot of names - when I was a kid, it was "wacky cake." The cookbook called it "Cake-Pan Cake" since it's mixed and baked in the pan. The book mentioned that the cake doesn't like to come out of the pan easily, so I used some parchment to ease that issue. I also used baking spray. Otherwise I followed the recipe.
I used a square cake pan, and found that it wasn't as cooperative about mixing as I'd remembered. I'm thinking that this recipe could be mixed in a bowl and poured into a cake pan. It's only one more bowl to wash, and mixing would be a heck of a lot easier.
One reason I chose this recipe was that it made a single layer - much better than a huge cake for just the two of us. What amazed me was that this cake rose properly and didn't do anything weird in the oven with absolutely no adjustments for altitude. That's pretty unusual.
But I digress. Here's the recipe:
Cake Pan Cake
Adapted from "The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook"
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8- or 9-inch round or square cake pan.
Put all the dry ingredients into the cake pan and mix well to combine them all. Make 3 wells in the flour and put vanilla in one well, vinegar into the second well, and vegetable into the third well. Pour the water over all of it and stir until it's all well blended.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake springs back in the center when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it cool about 5 minutes before removing from the pan, then let it cool completely on a rack before frosting. Or, if you're in a hurry it can be served warm with a bit of ice cream.