I had a serious craving for chocolate cake recently. I wanted one that was moist and dark, but also one where I didn't have to cream a lot of chilly butter with sugar. (I hate my Cuisineart 5-speed electric beater; it has no real slow setting and just tosses dry ingredients right out of the bowl - any recommendations?). I didn't feel like fluffing butter by hand, either. I was feeling lazy.
This chocolate oil cake version is derived from one on the Hershey's website. I modified it heavily: Less sugar, less salt, more flour, much lower baking time, and of course, the wild ingredients.
The result is a cake that is rich, dark, and delectably moist. It is both simple and outstanding.
Photo: Irene Khin, Saffron 59 Catering
It's also easy to carry on picnics, presliced, and easily shared.
Baked serviceberries add a hint of marzipan to the cake. And if you use the mahlab variation, instead, the flavor will be harder to define - more like marzipan and bitter almonds, but wonderful with chocolate.
I have only used a 12-cup bundt pan for the cake. You will have to adjust the baking time if you are using one regular baking pan (more baking time) or two pans for a layer cake (less baking time).
Tip: mixing cocoa with flour for dusting the pan means you won't have a weird white coating when you turn out your nice, dark cake.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup avocado oil (substitute other vegetable oil)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup serviceberries (or small blueberries)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons flour for pan
Instead of the fruit, add 1 teaspoon mahlab
Preheat the oven to 350'F.
For the pan: Butter the bundt pan and dust it well with a mixture of the flour and cocoa mixture. Shake any excess out.
For the cake: In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (If using mahlab, add it now.)
In another bowl beat together the eggs, milk and avocado oil.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing well. Add the boiling water. Mix until the batter is smooth (it will be very thin, don't panic).
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, scatter the serviceberries evenly across it, and pour in the rest.
Bake for 35 minutes until the surface of the cake springs back to the touch, or an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then invert carefully and allow to continue cooling on a rack.