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Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion Excerpt from Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion

by Rachel Schifter Thebault

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Devil's Food Cake

MAKES ONE 3-LAYER 8-INCH CAKE, ONE 2-LAYER 9-INCH CAKE, OR ABOUT 3 DOZEN CUPCAKES

The base recipe for our chocolate cake is the easiest cake recipe I know. It's an oil-based (as opposed to butter-based) recipe, so, just like boxed cake mixes, it can be mixed by hand in one bowl. For that reason, it is a favorite of mine to make at a vacation home or anywhere that I'm not sure about what mixers or baking equipment will be available. Once baked, this batter results in an airy, spongy cake with a rich chocolate flavor. It tends to rise a lot in the oven, especially in the center, so the cake layers will always have to be trimmed to make the layers flat before they are iced. Accordingly, be careful not to overfill the cake pans or cupcake wrappers.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

2 cups buttermilk

1 1/3 cups vegetable or canola oil

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to to 350º F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with butter or nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (Alternatively, you can use two 9-inch round pans, or prepare cupcake pans or other cake pans as directed.)

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Whip the sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until all the ingredients have blended together, about 30 seconds. (If a standing mixer is not available, the batter can be whisked by hand in a large mixing bowl for about 1 minute.)

4. Add approximately half the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure that the flour is fully incorporated.

5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. The batter should come one-third or one-half the way up the sides of the pans.

6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through.

7. When the centers of the cakes spring back to the touch, remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in their pans. (You can also test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or fork into the center of the cake and checking that it comes out clean.) Run an offset spatula or dull knife between the sides of the cakes and the pans and transfer the cakes right side up to a wire rack to bring them to room temperature.

8. Once the cakes are at room temperature, ice as desired (see Icing a Cake, page 14). Uniced cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days before icing and serving, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. (Trim the layers flat before freezing them. Once frozen, the layers need to sit at room temperature for only 15 minutes before you start icing them, but allow 2 hours at room temperature for the cake to thaw fully before serving it.)

The above is an excerpt from the book Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion by Rachel Thebault. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2011 Rachel Thebault, author of Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion