Dark Chocolate Cake (Tom's Favorite)!

Welcome to Honey Crumb’s new blog! I’m Carla, the owner and pastry chef here, and I’ll be introducing my all-female team of cake artists to you in the coming weeks. I kept a cake blog from 2010 until about 2013, when business at Honey Crumb really started booming and I channeled my time and efforts into full-tilt cake production. I only realized recently, long after deleting the original Honey Crumb blog, how much I missed writing about our behind-the-scenes work at a custom cake bakery in downtown Seattle, sharing my baking secrets and tips (suitable for both new bakers and seasoned professionals!), and showcasing the work of other artists and chefs whom I greatly admire. The reboot of this blog aims to do just that.

To my great joy, the legendary Seattle-based chef and restauranteur Tom Douglas gave Honey Crumb a shoutout yesterday on his KIRO radio program, the Seattle Kitchen Show. In this episode, he focuses on purchasing and cooking the perfect steak, but towards the end, there’s a special segment on baking tips. Tom says our scratch-based chocolate cake reminds him of his grandmother’s baking, which is just about the best compliment he could give us. You can listen to the show here (the shoutout is at 50:15 if you’d like to skip to that part!). In gratitude for the mention, we’re sharing our Dark Chocolate Cake recipe here, so that anyone and everyone can have a taste of our cakes! Our clients absolutely adore this cake, and it’s been a best seller on our menu for almost ten years. So, here’s our invitation to heat your oven, plug in your mixer, and drop us a comment to let us know how the cake turned out for you!

Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 285 g ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR (we recommend Bob’s Red Mill organic unbleached white flour)

  • 450 g GRANULATED CANE SUGAR (we only ever use C & H Brand)

  • 120 g COCOA POWDER (we love Ghirardelli Majestic, and/or Guittard Cacao Noir — this is a chocolate cake, so the quality of the cocoa powder you use is really important!)

  • 3 teaspoons (tsp) BAKING SODA

  • 1-1/2 tsp BAKING POWDER

  • 1 tsp SALT

  • 3 WHOLE free-range EGGS (large)

  • 1 cup / 237 ml HOT BLACK COFFEE (or, 1 Tbsp Hoosier Hill Farm espresso powder, blended into 1 cup hot water)

  • 1-1/2 cups / 360 ml BUTTERMILK

  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml VEGETABLE OIL (we like cold-pressed safflower oil; you can use any light / mild-tasting vegetable oil)

  • 1 tablespoon (Tbsp) VANILLA EXTRACT

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F (internal temp; use an oven thermometer if you need to make sure that the outside reading matches the actual internal temp of your oven) 

(1x batch is sufficient for two 8” round pans, which would serve 20-24 people generously. You can halve this batch if you’d prefer to bake two 5” round pans, which would serve 10.)

  • Make sure all ingredients (particularly the eggs and buttermilk) are at room temp before you begin.

  • Prep your cake pans by cutting out two 8” circles of parchment paper, and inserting a flower nail — as a heat-conducting aid — into the middle of each parchment circle before putting it into the pan.

  • Weigh out all your dry ingredients (flour, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer, and whisk them well together with a hand whisk. This will break up any lumps in the cocoa powder and flour. Attach the bowl to your mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and stir the dry ingredients gently on speed 1 (aka “stir” speed on a KitchenAid).

  • Whisk together the hot coffee, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and finally the eggs in a large jug or a bowl with a pouring spout. On speed 2-3, add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, pouring them into the mixer bowl in a steady stream, then increase the mixer speed to 4-5 and let the mixer run for 1 minute. It’s a good idea to ramp up the mixer speed gradually, as the batter is quite loose and may splash! 

  • Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, then turn it back on to speed 4-5 for another full minute. The batter should now look pretty smooth and glossy. 

  • Divide among prepared pans and bake on the middle rack until done (approx. 28-35 mins for 8” round pans). “Done” means that a bamboo skewer inserted into the middle of the cake will come out clean, or with just a couple of moist crumbs clinging to it — no streaks of wet batter!

  • Cool your cakes in their pans for about 10-20 mins (ideally on a metal surface, such as a cookie sheet, to allow heat to be conducted away rapidly from your cake pans). Then, flip them out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pull out the flower nail and peel away the parchment, then wrap carefully to keep out as much air as possible. 

  • Allow the cakes to rest overnight on the kitchen counter, or in the fridge, before you split, fill, and frost them. If you’re in a hurry, you can chill the baked cakes (wrapped well in plastic film) for a couple hours and then proceed to fill and frost them. This resting period allows the layers to settle, and encourages the cake to develop a better structure. (Cakes develop their structure as they cool, not just as they bake!)