If you’re not into the whole food blog thing, or are a newcomer to the scene, then you may not know who Deb Perelman is. She has written, photographed, tested and cooked for her blog, smitten kitchen, for nearly ten years. She seems like a totally normal person. She has two kids, a husband, and a tiny but well equipped New York City kitchen. I love a lot of things about her blog. She is classy without being stuffy, and acknowledges trends, but never relies upon them. She isn’t afraid to tackle an esoteric, complicated, or even multi-day cooking project, but understands the necessity of the easy weeknight dinner, because duh. She highlights her disasters as well as her many triumphs. And she listens to her readers, often updating recipes based on their comments and her further testing. She is one of many people in the food world who (whom?) I admire, and I just wanted my small corner of the internet to know. Also I made this cake today.
Now, to be fair, this is not Deb Perelman’s recipe. It’s originally found in the At Home with Magnolia Bakery, and has been blogged about by many others. But Deb has a knack for adapting a recipe – highlighting the quirks that make it sing, and letting you know which of the sometimes minute details can be left out, no harm done. In this case, she turns the recipe into a one bowl affair, keeping the cleanup a little lighter – which I can always use help with, especially when cocoa powder is involved.
Everyday Chocolate Cake
This cake is rich enough to make a Tuesday feel like a Friday, but easy enough to get from start to oven in 20 minutes flat – 15 if you’re really on your game. It does take a while to bake, but what it lacks in speed it definitely makes up for with the whole ‘making your house smell like an amazing chocolate oasis’ thing. The only note I’d add to the instructions below is to be careful not to over bake it – you could end up with a slightly dry cake at the edges if you do, but it’s nothing some ice cream can’t hide.
1/2 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (190 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (60 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
Heat your oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a standard loaf pan (shown in a 9″x5″, but not so full in it that you couldn’t use an 8″x4″ or something in-between), or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes (mine took nearly 80, because I used a slightly smaller pan), or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan.
Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if you’re feeling fancy.
Planning ahead? This cake is even better on days 2 and 3; wrap it tightly in foil and store it at room temperature.