Splurge: the “little black dress” of chocolate cakes: 27 cents/slice

Yes, this is a cake. I hate baking cakes. It’s also chocolate, which is not really my gig and worse, it’s just boring old plain chocolate, with nothing in or on it. And it’s a bundt cake, which is OK if you’re going all retro and making Tunnel of Fudge or some sugar-powdered ’50s coffee-cake thing, but for just a plain old chocolate cake? Really?

Yes, really. Don’t worry; I don’t have a brain tumor. I have a bit of a kitchen-gadget addiction, and in taking stock of the several shelves’ worth of toys and tools I have in the basement, I came across a bundt pan. I remember buying it several years ago for an ill-fated root-beer-float novelty cake for my father-in-law’s birthday, but WHY is it still here?

To answer this question, I checked out Christie Matheson’s “Cake Simple”—a book of bundt-cake recipes—from the library. It was filled with all kinds of interesting-sounding bundt cakes (honey jalapeño, PB&J, vanilla-pink peppercorn), but because I was planning on serving this cake to a meat-and-potaotes crowd, I opted for the less-threatening s’mores cake, which called for a chocolate cake covered with homemade marshmallow fluff and a baked butter-graham cracker crumble.

Obviously, I didn’t make it past the cake part. Making it was, to me, about as fun as vacuuming dog hair off the couch, and the thought of continuing on with the fluff and the graham cracker crumble made me so grumpy I decided to call the whole thing off right then and there and serve orange carpaccio instead. (Which I did, and it was great.)

BUT…part of me regrets this, because this cake was phenomenal after it sat for a day. Like, so good it almost made me change my mind about cakes in general. It was fudgy and chocolatey and exactly what you’re hoping for when you hear the words “chocolate cake.” So, if you like chocolate cake, you must make this, because it will probably replace your current go-to. The bundt shape is super easy to decorate, and the cake itself is a great base for any type of topping or add-in you can think of.

Be sure to plan ahead, because the difference between same-day and next-day is…well…night and day.

10 servings.

• 3/4 cup cocoa powder: 70 cents
• 3 oz. milk chocolate: 27 cents
• 3/4 cup boiling water: $0
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour: 15 cents
• 1 cup white sugar: 21 cents
• 1 cup packed brown sugar: 21 cents
• 2 tsp baking soda: 3 cents
• 1 tsp baking powder: 2 cents
• 3/4 tsp salt: 1 cent
• 1 cup buttermilk: 37 cents
• 2 eggs: 25 cents
• 1 T vanilla extract: 20 cents
1/2 cup canola oil: 24 cents
TOTAL: $2.66/10 = 27 cents/slice

Preheat oven to 350. Brush inside of a large bundt pan with melted butter, dust with cocoa powder. Put chocolate in a bowl, pour boiling water over and whisk until melted and combined. Let cool to room temp.

Whisk flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, oil, and melted chocolae on low until combined. Gradually add combined ingredients, beating until all have been incorporated, and increase mix to med. low and mix for another 3 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes (it will probably sink, as you can see at left, but it’ll be turned upside down, so it’s OK), then invert cake onto wire rack and cook for another 30 minutes. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days, or wrapped in plastic and then foil in the freezer for 1 month.

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