You might be wondering why you should bake a chocolate cake from scratch when it’s so easy to buy a cake mix and whip one up that way. Well, here’s what you can achieve if you make your own:
- Everything will be natural-no chemical flavors, preservatives, stabilizers, etc.
- You can make it with organic ingredients.
- You can use some whole wheat flour for a little more nutritional value.
- You can use less sugar (not so good for you) and more chocolate (good for you)!
- You can make it more interesting with spices and other ingredients.
- All of the above reasons will allow you to have your cake and eat it too, without guilt, or not so much anyway!
- You will feel a sense of accomplishment, and your friends and/or family will be very impressed!
- It will be delicious!
We’ve been working on this cake for a long time now, making numerous tweaks along the way to get it just right. As much as we like using 100% whole wheat flour whenever possible, we just couldn’t get it to be moist enough unless we used a little more white flour than whole wheat. (However, the cake is also good using half whole wheat and half white–just a little less moist.) For cake baking, it’s important to use whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat, as opposed to stone ground whole wheat, which is too coarse. Adding some white all-purpose flour definitely improves the texture. Since we like to bake, we keep white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour and white all-purpose flour in our kitchen. (See How to Stock a Gluten-Free Pantry too.)
If you want to learn more about the difference between the above flours, read our post: What is White Whole Wheat Flour Anyway?
The amount of cocoa (or raw cacao) powder also affects the texture. Too much, and the cake is dry. Too little, and it’s not rich enough. We learned through our research and experience that dissolving the cocoa powder first, in a hot liquid, “blooms” or intensifies the flavor. Vanilla also has a way of increasing the richness of the chocolate, but it’s not necessary. Don’t worry too much if you don’t have any.
We wanted to spin a little twist on basic chocolate cake, so we added chai tea, cardamom and cinnamon. The tea gives the batter some acidity (as does the yogurt), which is necessary for a good rise. You can also substitute strong espresso coffee if you don’t have chai tea. Coffee provides the acidity and produces a cake with the same wonderful texture and depth of flavor even though it tastes slightly different. The coffee masks the cardamom flavor a little, whereas the chai tea enhances it. Try it both ways and see what you prefer. It’s really just a matter of taste.
Finally, our cakes are all designed to be baked in the recommended Bare Bones 8-inch x 8-inch glass baking dish. This is not the type of cake that is made in a baking pan then turned over to remove and ice. It is not a layer cake. Our chocolate cake should be cut and served one piece at a time from the dish:
Or, cut into pieces and placed on a platter.
Although we don’t frost ours, you certainly could. Just spread it over the top after it has cooled, but before you cut it.