recipes

Simple Saturday cake

“Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.” Janet Evanovich, American novelist

Cake is not my go-to dessert. That is brownies. But, there are times when the mix of outdoor and family temperature simply calls for a bit of celebration (or consolation) that can only come with layers of ooey-gooey cake.

Humble 100 percent cocoa powder is a dairy-free chocolate lover’s friend. Nothing but goodness can be found in this can.

This cake, which tends to appears at our home on two or three random Saturdays each year, is beloved as it was easy to adapt to gluten-free and dairy-free diets. And, while I have also tinkered with the sugar level of this Italian-origin recipe so that it tastes more like a German baked good, it is dark and delicious when paired with thick chocolate frosting and a simple filling of berry jam.

To make it even easier, I bake it in a 9- by 13-inch pan instead of layer-cake pans. Cut in half, the sheet version makes a marvelous two-layered square that is easier to frost and cut than a round cake.

Chocolate cake on a random Saturday afternoon. What could be more fun?

Simple Saturday cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the inside of a 9- by 13-inch glass pan with about 2 teaspoons oil. Set aside.

Whisk together 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 eggs (or vegan substitute). In a separate bowl, mix together 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 3/4 cup wheat or brown-rice flour (or another gluten-free flour), 3/4 teaspoon baking power, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Combine the two mixtures and add 1 3/4 cup dairy milk or dairy-free milk. (I prefer a cashew/almond blend.)

Using an electric mixer or a blender, mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes. Using a large spatula, cut the sheet cake in half crosswise. Again using the spatula, carefully lift one layer onto a cake plate. Cover that layer with about 1/4 inch thick layer of berry jam. (Blackberry jam really rocks this cake.) Put the second layer on top and set the cake aside until it has cooled to room temperature.

When cool, frost the cake with chocolate frosting. You can make your own if you like, but since cake is a rare treat for us and it’s Saturday, I just go with a canned Duncan Hines frosting that is both gluten and dairy free. (Many other brands are not; check the label.) Another alternative is to melt dark chocolate chips (again, check label to make sure they’re dairy free/vegan) in a microwavable bowl and pour the melted deliciousness over the top so that it drips down the sides.

This recipe makes 10 satisfying servings or six utterly decadent ones. You decide. It’s Saturday, after all. Perhaps an afternoon walk is also in order. 🙂

14 thoughts on “Simple Saturday cake”

    1. It is drier than some gluten cakes — I know exactly what you’re talking about — but the use of oil seems to balance it, at least for me. The texture is kind of like cornbread or a cake made with whole wheat in the flour mix than one made with cake (wheat) flour, though.

      I have made it without the jam and frosting. It is still good, but I always serve it with and coffee. The jam and frosting really does add moisture. I like the cake better with them than without them.

      You can also try a mix of flours. The last time I made this, I used a blend of sorghum flour (which can be tricky to find) and brown rice flour. The natural sweetness of the sorghum was quite nice.

      I haven’t tried this, but I’m thinking it would also be good to leave it in sheet-cake form and turn it into a “poke cake.” That would involve making a sugar/gelatin sauce (such as espresso, sugar and gelatin heated together until mixed), poking holes in the cake with a wooden spoon handle and, then, pouring the sauce all over the cake top. I haven’t had one of these cakes since I was a little girl, but when they cool, the sauce solidifies and the cake is super moist.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for taking the time to write this thorough answer! You are right, sorghum flour can be tricky to find, but my daughter knows a small store where they sell it, very convenient as we are leaving for the States this Saturday!
        I have heard of poke cake but it sounds like yet more work so I will stick to dunking my dry cakes in coffee! Sometimes microwaving a slice with a cover on the plate for a few seconds brings back moisture to the cake, thanks to the steam released in the process. In any event I never throw anything away!

        Liked by 1 person

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