Meet your new go-to birthday cake, bake sale cake, dinner party cake, late night snack cake—for when the fridge is at its barest and you need chocolate cake now. (It's also vegan and parve and dirt cheap, but you wouldn't know unless we told you.) This isn't the richest, most chocolatey cake—if you like, you can amp up the chocolate by swapping in coffee for the water, or adding more cocoa. But you don't need to. It's a different animal: light, delicately strung together with cocoa, and not terribly sweet. Adapted slightly from Cafe Beaujolais (Ten Speed Press, 1984). —Genius Recipes
6 to 8
1 1/2 cups
neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Sift. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. If lumpy, whisk until smooth, or pour through strainer in to a bowl and break up lumps, pressing them through.
Mix again, and pour into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches to the floor several times to pop air bubbles. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently.
Cool before removing from the pan and dusting with confectioners' sugar, or frosting if desired.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore.