Just a Bowl and a Whisk Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

IMG_0031I promised you chocolate cake back in February and at the time, it was a bribe to get you to read the second and final post of Sensual, Earthy Roasted Beets.  It’s been awhile, I know, but I’ve been doing some prioritizing in my life and I’ve come to realize that baking desserts, talking about desserts, writing about desserts are top on the list of what I enjoy doing when I’m not mothering, wife-ing and home-making.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking about chocolate cake for a long, long time.  Every girl has a coming of age story usually centered around puberty with all the wonderful, awkward, physical changes that go along with it.  My entrance into womanhood began with a Bundt pan, a box of Duncan Hines Devil’s Food cake mix and a promise from my mother that I could bake this cake alone.

I was bestowed full reign over the kitchen all afternoon along with every pan, spatula and spoon in it.  That sacred day I received my mother’s trust and encouragement as well as her acknowledgment of how important it was for me to bake something on my own.  I am forever grateful for that moment with her, for it set me on my path, not only to becoming a woman who can bake, but a woman who knows chocolate cake.


I firmly believe we should eat more chocolate cake.  And although Duncan Hines will always keep a tender, sweet crumb inside my heart, there’s nothing like homemade.  I know it’s not always that easy to find the time to make a delicious cake from scratch, however, the following recipe couldn’t be quicker, more moist and wickedly rich.  This recipe does not require a stand-up mixer, nor a hand-held.  Just two 9-inch cake pans, a large bowl, a medium bowl, a whisk and a rubber spatula.  Go gather up your cookery gear and ingredients, Darling.  You are on your way to having your cake in no time.

The Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups strong coffee, cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and dust the interiors of the pans with flour; tap out the excess.

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a large bowl, and whisk just to blend the ingredients.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk until you have a well-blended batter with no lumps.  (The batter is meant to be stirred, not beaten.) Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, smoothing the tops if necessary.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Transfer the cake pans to a cooling rack, let cool for about 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the pans.  Invert the cakes so they cool right-side up.  If you wish to turn this cake into a four-layer cake, when the cakes are completely cool, slice each layer with a bread knife or other large serrated knife in half horizontally to make four layers.

Frosting recommendations: Seven-Minute Frosting (for an old-fashioned look, use the back of a spoon to pull the frosting into points.) Or you may wish to leave the cake in two layers and enjoy one layer at a time with a simple dusting of powdered sugar just before serving.

As this cake freezes well, simply wrap the other layer air-tight in clear wrap, followed by aluminum foil, date it and  freeze it for up to two months.

Cake recipe adapted from “Zefiro’s Chocolate-Buttermilk Cake”, Diversion magazine April 1998.

Seven-Minute Frosting (from The Lily Wallace New American Cook Book, 1945)

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white corn syrup
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all ingredients, except vanilla, in a heatproof bowl (I use a medium-size glass Pyrex bowl) and mix well.  In the meantime, fill a 4- quart size pot about half-way with water and bring to a boil, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of your bowl when you place it on top.  Cook over boiling water 3 minutes.  Remove from fire but leave over hot water and beat with a rotary beater 7 minutes, or until of a consistency to spread.  Add vanilla and blend well.  Let cool completely before frosting.  You may have to give it a gentle whisk to fluff it back up first.

IMG_0040Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!;)


4 thoughts on “Just a Bowl and a Whisk Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

    1. Hi Naomi,

      Although I have not tried to make cupcakes from this cake recipe yet, I went straight to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s (author of The Cake Bible)very helpful website: realbakingwithrose.com and confirmed that most cake recipes can convert to cupcakes with no alterations. I would (and I definitely will, myself) go ahead and use this recipe for cupcakes with confidence!

      My best,



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