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Author Notes: I've always been a cookie baker, but lately I've discovered the ease of baking a simple cake to have in the house when people stop over, or just to have as a snack or dessert with a cup of coffee. I wanted to make a chocolate cake that veered in the direction of healthy snack (well, except for the sugar; hence the "ish"). I used the much-loved Food52 chocolate bundt cake as a jumping-off point, substituting King Arthur white whole wheat flour and calcium- and protein-fortified skim milk. (I use Over the Moon brand. Another brand is Skim Plus.) I also used brown sugar, cut down the coffee, and added an egg and some wheat germ.
I know a lot of bakers use applesauce or pureed prunes in place of oil, but I don't like the texture that gives to baked goods, so I used grapeseed oil (which I happened to have in the house). You can use canola or safflower oil, or whatever the "heart healthy" oil du jour is; it's only 1/3 cup for the whole cake. (Melted butter also works.)
This cake takes well to other flavor combinations. I've substituted almond meal for the wheat germ and added almond extract. You could add a little cinnamon and ground chiles for a Mexican vibe. I haven't tried peppermint extract, but I think that would be great with ice cream.
This cake is great for a picnic because it transports easily, makes very little mess when you cut it, and even gives you some whole grains while you're indulging in dessert!
If you're making it for a picnic, the bundt pan is the way to go, but I've made it in a 9 inch springform pan also. —drbabs
Serves 8-12, depending on who's cutting
butter and cocoa for pan
cups fortified skim milk (Over the Moon or Skim Plus)
teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour
generous 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter a Bundt pan or 9 inch cake pan with 4 inch sides; I've used a springform pan. Dust the inside with cocoa powder, set aside. Add apple cider vinegar to the 2 cups of skim milk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, place sugars, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, wheat germ and espresso powder. Stir with whisk till thoroughly blended.
- In a stand mixer mixer on low speed, pour in the milk mixture, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low until everything is incorporated. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer speed up to medium and mix for 4 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally so batter completely blends and beats together. If you have a stand mixer, you can let her rip, and use this time to clean up (if you're an anal-retentive clean-as-you-go girl like me).
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes (It takes longer in the springform pan.), or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake for 10 minutes in pan, then place onto wire rack to cool completely. (You can serve the cake from the springform bottom, or if you make a bundt pan, turn the cake out to cool.)
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired. (When I've made it in a springform pan, I've layered strawberry jam on the top, but that doesn't really work for a picnic--it's a little messy.)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Picnic Dish