Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chocolate Everyday Cake

I've been enamored with the everyday cake or busy-day cake for quite some time now, coming into fruition when I recently stayed with my sister Julia and had the chance to bake quite a few of them. I love the idea of a simple cake, just something to go alongside your Tuesday night dinner. No big deal. Just whipped it up. You know.
an everyday cake for Greg's birthday
Sometimes an everyday cake becomes a birthday cake: Not an over-the-top layer cake (mine never turn out as grand as I hope they will, anyhow), but a tasty, let's-eat-the-last-bits-of-crumbs-standing-outside-the-neighborhood-bar-where-we-celebrated-cake. And pretty much any time, that's a great end to a birthday party.
my tiny urban kitchen~ a little space planning and anything is possible!
Now about this cake, Amy Pennington's Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, let me tell you, it is delicious. It has an earthy-nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, a slight tang from the cultured buttermilk and a humble crumb. It was perfect with a dusting of cocoa powder, only to be improved (I imagine, because I forgot to make some!) with a dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream or good quality not too sweet ice cream. Definitely no frosting necessary.

Now, I'm a firm believer in making a recipe work for you, with what you have, and this cake was no exception. I did not have buttermilk on hand. I did, however have coconut milk yogurt which failed to set up and that did the trick perfectly. Any cultured product with approximately the same thickness and fat content would work, so buttermilk, thin yogurt or alt milk yogurt, kefir, milk with lemon juice or vinegar, etc. And while we're on substitutions, the recipe called for a bit of cognac which I did not have, but I replaced it with dark rum (thought it would go nicely with the coconut milk yogurt) which I did have. In the end? I did not detect a difference at all and next time I won't even both and just double the vanilla. Oh yeah, and I also added a generous teaspoon of espresso powder. Brings out the chocolate flavor. I learned it from Ina. Trust us.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
minimally adapted from Amy Pennington, Urban Pantry 2010

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk (or other cultured product)
1/2 tsp. cognac
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" round cake pan. Combine (a whisk is great here) all dry ingredients and set aside. Combine buttermilk, cognac, and vanilla, set aside.

Cream butter and sugar using a mixer (KitchenAid or hand mixer) until light and fluffy- about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl several times.

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. Lastly add second half of the dry ingredients and mix until barely combined. Pour into cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The book says to let the cake cool on a cake rack and serve with a dusting of cocoa powder. I tried to take it out of the pan before it cooled all the way- mistake! Luckily friends don't too much mind a few little chunks of cake missing, and you could barely tell when I flipped it the other way. Either way, enjoy this gem of an everyday cake!

I wish I could say that the missing chunk at the top was because of taking it out of the pan before it cooled. Not so.... 


  1. mmm everyday cake. I made everyday brownies tonight and frosted them with birthday frosting (aka - "the best frosting ever"). Even in it's post-frozen state, it's still marshmallowy goodness. XO

  2. Yay for everyday brownies! Although maybe marshmallowy frosting makes them Sunday Brownies? =)

  3. I need an everyday cake recipe STAT... Help a sister out? (for tomorrow morning, and I don't plan on going to the grocery store...)

    1. Did you get my email? Just in case you want a few more everyday cake ideas, here are a few in my current queue:

      Easy Yogurt Cake~
      Madeira Cake~
      Rosemary Olive Oil Cake~
      Plum Cake~

  4. Jordan all these post are great! Its fun and informative, your personality comes across well, and all the pictures make me hungry! :) I love your everyday cakes and will be looking for more to come, though I'm sure when I make them they won't match how good you made me my every-day-birthday-cake a few years back. I think it was called "Some Cherry Cake Thing" and it is still the only way I'll eat a beaked cherry. You still have that one?

    1. Oh yes, I remember that cake =) I think that recipe was before my DIY life truly began and was out of a box! But if you are so inclined, very easy:

      1 box yellow cake mix, 1 c. liquid (soda, sparkling H20, cherry juice from the can, yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, etc.), 1 can drained tart cherries (these are a bit hard to find, but usually I can find a brand called "Oregon" or maybe even a store brand. You can also use cherry pie filling, and reduce the liquid to 1/2 c.). Mix up the cake mix and liquid first, then gently fold in the cherries. Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for ~30-45 min until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Voila! Skylar's Everyday Cherry Cake!