This will become your go-to chocolate cake. It's simple, it's easy, and it's always good. But first, the story behind it...
In 1979 when my father was about 55 years old, with a couple of kids still at home (5 were already grown-up), he bought a Stop & Go Transmissions franchise. The timeline is a little murky because he changed businesses so often. We all thought he was nuts -- he knew nothing about car. He was a restaurant and lounge kind of guy, a "Dewars and water" man. In his 2005 eulogy to my father, my brother Joe described my father as a:
Lover of the long shot
big Cadillac dreamer
double-breasted suit wearer
hell of a guy...
Transmission-shop owner wasn't in there. But my father had insisted that this business would provide the big pay-out: next stop, easy-street.
The business was pretty successful for a while, but he was restless -- he tired of it after five years, and moved on to buy the Elbow Room Lounge. That's where I bartended for a while, and met Half-Man and Texaco Jack (but that's another story).
Some time not long after this era, I acquired the recipe for this chocolate cake. I have no idea where the recipe came from and no recollection of writing it down. But I've made it a thousand times and it's always good -- pretty easy, too.
I bet you have all the ingredients on hand right now to make it. Who doesn't have cocoa powder (there's probably a can of it kicking around somewhere in that pantry), or eggs, baking soda, sugar, salt, flour, vanilla?
I wanted to use-up lots of pantry items before replenishing my stocks for Thanksgiving cooking. So I chopped-up what I had of hazelnuts, walnuts and dried Medjool dates -- just a handful of each. I didn't even adjust the proportions of any of the other ingredients and the cake was great (although it could have used more of any of those extra ingedients).
I made two cakes, one for home and one to take to my daughter in New York, a starving young actress -- which is yet another story.
The cake is moist, very chocolate-ty (but not fudgy, which I hate in a cake), and seems to keep forever.
Easy-Peasy Chocolate Cake
1 well-buttered 9" or 10" Bundt pan (adjust cooking time accordingly)
In a saucepan on the stove-top bring to boil
1 stick of butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli's)
In a mixing bowl combine
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
(and any dry ingredients in your pantry you'd like to add, e.g., nuts, raisins, dates, etc.)
Combine the two mixtures and beat with electric mixer until well mixed.
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream (I didn't have either so I used plain yogurt)
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
Beat until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour (yum).