Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.
Today: Jenny finds a weeknight chocolate cake. With sprinkles, naturally.
My friend’s son A is what is commonly referred to within the culinary linguistic canon as a cookie monster. I know most kids love sweets, but really this boy, who is as thin as a bookmark and otherwise quite personally restrained, can put away more desserts than any man, woman or child I have ever known. I once saw him nibble some crumbs off a table-mate’s banana muffin wrapper at school. He’s just that kid.
But when it comes to baked goods, let me just say right away that A has plenty of good taste. He prefers a garlic salt bagel to a plain, demonstrating incipient savory smarts, and he really can tell a great cake from a good one.
When his birthday rolled around earlier this month, I offered to bake him a cake, and among all the offerings I put out there, he had the good sense – and interesting brain -- to choose My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake. And that was before he even learned it had sprinkles!
The first thing this recipe has going for it is, of course, its author: drbabs always churns out good yummies, so I knew this would be a sure thing. I also love how she made it for herself rather than endure the cloying misery of a store-bought cake -- friends don’t prevent friends from having the perfect cake, can I get an amen?
But you all know I would not be writing this up were the cake not weeknight-friendly. I made it on a Sunday night after completing approximately 300 loads of laundry and sweeping the basement stairs so that someone could immediately trample on them again, so you know it has to be easy. Its two greatest assets are that it only takes one pan and it features things you probably have at home, unless you’ve been too depressed about the looks of oranges in the store these days to buy them.
The only thing I did not add was the espresso powder – it was a school night after all. Because this recipe features both baking powder and baking soda, you can get away with using natural cocoa if that’s all you have in your pantry. Please make sure the cake is totally cooled before frosting, which is done most easily by pouring the ganache in the center of the cake and then spreading it from there. Amanda told me not to use sprinkles. I used the exact ones features in drbabs’s photo. Amanda can sue me.
Makes 1 9-inch cake
For the cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered espresso
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
3/4 cups whole milk
For the ganache:
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
sprinkles for decorating
Craving more chocolate cake? Try:
Photos by James Ransom
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now