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The Only Thing Standing Between You and Chocolate Cake Is One Pot and 40 Minutes

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Baking is a very soothing activity for me. I like standing in my kitchen quietly, cracking eggs, measuring flour, swirling butter on a stovetop pan as it browns and starts to smell nutty and fragrant. I like the feeling of making something with my hands, and I love bearing witness to the alchemy of cooking as a few simple pantry ingredients turn into decadent desserts.

Photo by Posie Harwood

While I know I'm not alone, I also realize that not everyone has the luxury of hours to spend in the kitchen. Baking can be stressful if you don't naturally gravitate towards cooking, or if you aren't very confident. And even if you love it the way I do, sometimes we can all use a simple and straightforward recipe that will turn out reliably, even if you're scatterbrained and tired after a long day.

Enter this very neat chocolate cake recipe. I've adapted it from a very old recipe that was created by the Parkay margarine test kitchen; they called it Swiss Chocolate Squares and billed it as an easy one-bowl cake. You do away with the traditional method of creaming together butter and sugar before adding wet ingredients and then dry ones. Instead, you just basically throw everything into a pot on the stove!

First you melt together butter, water, and chocolate. You add your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and so on) directly to that pot on the stove. You stir to combine, then add your eggs and sour cream to the pot, and stir again.

Photo by Posie Harwood

That's it! One bowl! Scrape the batter into a cake pan and bake. It's very foolproof; just make sure not to overmix or your cake won't be as airy and tender-crumbed.

While the cake bakes, make your frosting. I've included a recipe for a deliciously fudgy chocolate frosting here, but you can easily pick any frosting or icing you like, from vanilla buttercream to peanut butter to salted caramel. Chocolate cake is a very happy partner for nearly every frosting flavor. You could even leave it plain and serve it with a slightly sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

With a technique this easy, there's nothing standing between you and chocolate cake tonight.

Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake

Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake

Posie (Harwood) Brien Posie (Harwood) Brien
Makes one 9" x 13" cake

For the cake

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) flour
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but enhances chocolate flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 1/2 cups (About 16 ounces) sifted confectioners' sugar (start with less and add as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Go to Recipe
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Tags: Chocolate, One-Bowl Baking