This lovely chocolate cake recipe from Penzeys Spices is easy, fast, and great for those who can’t have eggs or dairy. It has a devil’s food cake texture and holds up well to the sauce. It even rises nicely at our altitude! While the recipe calls for a sour cherry sauce, I prefer raspberry. (See my notes below.)
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 24 (well, that would be optimistic for me… love my generous servings of chocolate cake)
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
1 tsp. (rounded) instant espresso powder
1 T. baking soda
1 tiny pinch salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T. vinegar (apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar)
2 cups water
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper up over the sides to make removing the cake from the pan much easier. We cut a piece for the bottom and then three strips going up the sides, plus we greased and floured the sides so the cake would not stick to any spots not covered in paper. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until well blended. Stir in the vanilla, oil and vinegar just briefly. Add the water and mix well with a wooden spoon or fork. Do not beat with a mixer or over-stir or it will make the cake rubbery. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350° for about 50 minutes or until the center is risen and springs back to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Then, using the parchment paper “handles,” carefully remove the cake from the pan (we used two people to do a “team lift”) and continue to cool on the rack. When ready to serve, gently pull the paper away and slice the cake onto a platter. Gaye’s great-grandma served this with Sour Cherry Sauce after a meat meal or with a dollop of whipped cream after a dairy meal. You may also frost it and/or add chopped walnuts, chopped dried cherries or chocolate chips.
Kathy’s quick raspberry sauce: Per serving: in a glass bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam and 1/2 tablespoon of Framboise or other raspberry liqueur. Heat slightly in the microwave and stir; spoon over the serving of cake.
Kathy’s notes: I use half-sheet size parchment paper for lots of things. I put one sheet across the short width of the baking dish with the edges sticking up for “handles” and a couple more sheets on top to cover the ends. No need to spray the pan if the bottom and sides are completely covered with the parchment paper. You can buy parchment paper by the roll at many grocery stores.