Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cooking School: Eggless Chocolate Bundt

The wacky cake aka crazy cake is sometimes known simply as a dump cake. Interesting and appetising names aside, it basically comes doen to one thing: this cake is made all in one bowl and has no egg, dairy or other animal products. It is leavened by the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar. The recipe originated in wartime, when there was a shortage of eggs, butter and milk, but managed to stand the test of time. This isn't surprising at all if you have ever made one of these cakes, since they are supremely simple. In fact, if you are not using a bundt pan, the whole cake can be mixed in the pan.
The other reason they have stood the test of time is obviously the taste. These cakes have a moist, light texture and an excellent chocolate flavor. The interior of the cake, which unfortunately cannot be seen in the photo above, is quite dark and rich looking, though the cake has none of the heaviness that can result from "richer" chocolate cakes. I much prefer this sort of cake to dense ones, because I find that the relative lightness goes very well with coffee or tea, not to mention that I migh have room for a second piece.
There are lots of recipes, all with slight variations, for this cake as simple, one layer cake. Bundt recipes seem to be much more difficult to find. The advantage to using a simple square baking dish is, again, that the cake can be mixed entirely within it, but bundt cakes look a little more interesting and I'm willing to dirty one bowl when I cook.
The cake is actually vegan, but there is no way to discern that from tasting it (if you can ordinarily taste the eggs in your cakes, you might want to rethink the recipe you're using). The glaze I made is not vegan, though I'm sure that vegan equivalents could be substituted. It's thick and chocolatey, as well as easy to pour. It also sets firmly, so it is easy to slice through. It makes a great bundt glaze for a 9 or 10-inch cake, but could just as easily be spread on top of a round or square cake. The richness of the chocolate glaze is the perfect contrast to the light, delicious texture of the cake and the cake as a whole turns out to have a peasantly dark chocolate taste.

Eggless Chocolate Cake
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
9 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.
In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Whisk in sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and vinegar, whisking thoroughly, but quickly, until the batter comes together and is quite smooth.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350F (my oven was a little wonky, so do check with a toothpick), until a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed.
Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cake as cooled, top with any glaze.

Satiny Chocolate Glaze
(based on this Hershey's recipe)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp bittersweet chocolate chips (like Ghiridelli)
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, bour in heavy crea, followed by vanilla. When glaze is smooth, pour or spread onto cake. Let cake set out for at least 2 hours to allow the glaze to set up.
Makes enough to glaze a 9 or 10 inch bundt.