For those of us in New England October is the month that brings that true fall feeling more and more as each day passes. It is also a month of fickle temperatures and even though some of our days begin feeling brisk and chilly, we often are shedding our jackets and rolling up of sleeves by noontime. This leaves us with the heat on/off dilemma. Summer is still fresh in our minds and it hardly seems appropriate to turn up the thermostat when we may see 68 degrees before the day is out. But nonetheless, with that cool nighttime air trapped inside, we are very tempted. My usual solution for this is to bake something. Turning on the oven to preheat and then for the duration of the baking time, heats up my little kitchen nicely (where I spend 75 percent of my time) and when I am finished I just open the oven door and let the remaining heat escape into the house. See, problem solved and I have a baked good to boot.
This recipe is for my favorite easy chocolate cake. This cake is not fancy– although you could dress it up with a little frosting or glaze– it is just really simple and quick and a nice treat to have on hand. You can make it in a 9-inch round or square pan, or into cupcakes. It is a pretty light cake even when I substitute part or all whole wheat pastry flour, so feel free to play with that proportion. Also, if you do not like coffee or have any on hand you can use a black tea of your choice in its place(I like to use india-spiced chai).
Note: In this cake as well as many of the other recipes I make which call for unsweetened cocoa powder, I substitute in a tablespoon or two of back onyx cocoa which is hard to find in stores, but easily purchased online. Onyx cocoa should not be used at a full substitution (cup for cup) because it is much dryer than regular or dutch cocoa and will not give you a moist finished product. A little bit however, makes things darker, richer and more delicious– if you like that sort of thing…
Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake, adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by the Moosewood Collective
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, or a mix of white and whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I found that too sweet- play with it and see what works for you)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chilled brewed coffee or tea
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar ( if you do not have apple cider vinegar you can substitute 1 1/2 Tbs plain white vinegar– not white wine vinegar!)
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Generously oil a 8-9 inch pan and dust with cocoa powder and/or line the bottom with parchment. If you are making cupcakes, grease one 12 -cup muffin tin or line with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl sift (mix with a whisk) flour, cocoa, bkg soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In another bowl, combine the oil, coffee/tea and vanilla. Pour the liquid into the dry and mix until smooth with as few strokes as possible.
Add the vinegar and stir briefly, the baking soda will begin reacting with the acid right away, leaving pale swirls in the batter. Without wasting any time, pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a rack in pan, and serve directly from the pan when cool, or transfer to a a plate. You can also glaze/frost your cooled cake with one of these also from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics:
Chocolate Raspberry Glaze
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup raspberry fruit spread or jam
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chip
1 Tbs water
In a double boiler or small heavy saucepan on medium heat, melt the 1/3 cup of the fruit spread with the chocolate chips and blend thoroughly then remove from heat. In another small saucepan, mix 1/4 cup of fruit spread with the water and warm on low heat until liquified. Brush the liquid fruit spread over the cooled cake, then spread on the chocolate glaze. Allow the glaze to cool before cutting the cake.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup peanut butter
3-4 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
In a double boiler or small heavy saucepan melt the chocolate on medium heat. While it melts beat together the peanut butter, water and vanilla until smooth (be careful not to let it overcook/burn). Beat in the confectioners sugar and add the melted chocolate until blended. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake.