Every family has one recipe they turn to time and time again. For mine, it's the one-bowl chocolate cake based on a recipe my Great Aunt Jackie wrote in 1980 for her book Slicing, Hooking and Cooking. Over the years it's graced our table at almost every special occasion: Most notably, I baked and served it at each of my siblings' weddings, as well as my own. This recipe is fool-proof, doesn't require a mixer, freezes well, tastes amazing, works as either cupcakes or a layer cake and stays moist from the day you frost it until the day you finish eating it. Our family prefers a mocha-rum icing, but it pairs beautifully with anything from vanilla glaze to chocolate-cream-cheese frosting.
Servings: Two 8-inch cake layers or 24 cupcakes
Ready time: 40 minutes
One-bowl chocolate cake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting the pans
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 cup hot water
1 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 pinches of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups white sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F. If you are making cake layers, grease two round 8-inch pans and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Shake the pans to evenly distribute the cocoa powder. Once the pans are completely coated, turn them upside down and tap the excess powder into a bowl. For cupcakes, place cupcake liners into your muffin tins.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter, canola oil, cocoa powder and instant coffee powder until completely combined. Whisk in the cup of hot water. Measure out the cup of milk and add the teaspoon of vinegar to it. Allow it to sit for a minute to sour. Whisk the eggs into the milk, then add the soured milk and eggs into the big bowl and whisk to combine.
Sprinkle the flour on the surface of the cocoa batter in the bowl, then sprinkle the baking soda and salt on top. Whisk to combine. There should be no large lumps of flour in the batter. Stir in the vanilla and sugar. The batter will be thin.
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans or the muffin tins. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes for the cake layers or 18-20 minutes for the cupcakes. The cupcakes should bounce back when gently pressed and the cake layers should be slightly pulling away from the edges of the pan. Allow the cake layers to cool in their pans on a cooling rack before turning them out. Remove the cupcakes from their tins and allow to cool completely before frosting.
If you are freezing the cake layers, allow them to cool completely before wrapping them in plastic wrap and then a layer of tinfoil. Cupcakes can be frozen in sealed containers. Fully frosted cakes can be stored in the fridge for three days and frosted cupcakes can be stored in sealed containers or bakery boxes at room temperature for three to four days.