After my first week in the new year, I had a craving for cake. Just cake. Any cake would have probably made me happy, but you know me, I'm a simple kind of girl who will take a slice of plain cake over just about anything. Really. Any flavor, with any kind of mix-ins, baked, in a loaf pan or a round pan or a square pan, as long as it's a slice of plain, moist cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, I'm good to go. I wasn't really shocked at all when I found myself thinking of cake...and more cake...and more cake. I needed it!
I had no idea what flavor cake I wanted, but I did know that when I found the recipe, I would know that it was the one I'd been searching for. I took out all my cookbooks and turned to my favorite blogs and just searched for the simple cake I didn't know I needed. As good as many of the cakes I saw looked, none of them seemed to really call out to me the way I needed them to. It wasn't until I looked through the last cookbook I had in my pile that I found it. The Easy Chocolate Skillet Cake from Baked Explorations. It was everything I wanted. Simple, fuss-free, full of chocolate, and baked in a cast iron skillet. If there's anything that really gets me excited about baking a cake or anything, is getting to do it in a cast iron skillet. I love the simple, rustic quality a cast iron skillet brings to everything it touches. Not to mention that it's an excellent pan to bake in and serve from!
The cake comes together quickly and easily. Dark cocoa powder, chopped chocolate and espresso powder are mixed together with boiling water to create an intense chocolate syrup to flavor the cake with. One of my favorite things to do whenever I'm making anything with chocolate is to include either freshly brewed coffee or instant espresso powder, because it really adds a depth of flavor that can't be matched any other way. As the chocolate syrup cools a bit, the dry ingredients are whisked together. Butter, brown sugar, and white sugar are creamed together, and eggs and vanilla extract are mixed in. The chocolate syrup is poured in, followed by the dry ingredients and a bit of buttermilk, just for some added tang. It takes about ten minutes or so to mix everything up, and then it gets poured into the cast iron skillet. Forty or so minutes in the oven and this chocolate cake is ready!
In their book, Matt and Renato top off the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but because I'm me and only like frosting in very select situations, I opted to go without the frosting and simply dust the cake with powdered sugar, accompanied with a dallop of softly whipped cream and fresh raspberries. The combination of the intensely chocolatey, barely sweetened chocolate cake with cream and berries was exactly what I needed. Perfectly satisfying and just barely indulgent, this chocolate cake is the perfect everyday chocolate cake. Easy to whip up at a moment's notice and ideal for snacking on at random moments throughout the day, this is a cake that I know I'll be turning to again and again whenever I need to fulfill a major chocolate craving. Enjoy!
Easy Chocolate Skillet Cake
recipe from Baked Explorations
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
In a small, heatproof bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, chocolate, and espresso powder. Pour in 3/4 cup boiling water and allow to sit for a minute, then whisk the mixture until it's melted and smooth. Set the mixture aside to cool. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add both sugars and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Turn the mixer speed down to low, and pour the chocolate mixture into the mixer in a slow, steady stream. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, and with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the skillet on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the skillet and invert the cake onto the wire rack. Turn the cake right side up and allow it to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and soft whipped cream and fresh raspberries if desired. Enjoy!
Makes 1 10-inch cake