Sunday, April 3, 2011

Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cake with Fresh Berries and Ice Cream

Once a month, I take a vintage recipe from an old cookbook and share it with a fantastic and growing group of recipe swappers. We each take time to reinterpret it and post our results the first Sunday of every month.  The Recipe Swap group this time around includes old hands Dennis, Lindsay, Toni, and Mari, to new swappers Mary, Crissy and Lauren, Pola, Jamie, and Claire, to the wonderful bloggers in between, Shari, Joy, and Jennifer.  Our recipe soul sister Sabrina took a break this time, as she just completed a wildly successful bake sale for Japan; we look forward to seeing her next time! Please take a moment to look at everyone's recipes and leave your thoughts for all of us on our pages.

This month's recipe was "Busy Day Wacky Cake", a version of a Depression cake (thanks, Lindsay, for researching), created when recipe workarounds surfaced in absence of essential pantry ingredients like milk and baking powder.  I loved the efficiency of mixing and baking a cake in the same pan, so for my adaptation I hung on to that. Then, in a fitting nod to the soul of this recipe, I couldn't find my baking dish from my move between apartments last week, so out of necessity, this cake was baked in a 9" All-Clad skillet. At that point, I took the "simplicity" message and left the finished cake unglazed, garnishing only with raspberries and vanilla ice cream. This stripped-down dessert pushed individual ingredients like espresso powder and fresh raspberries into the spotlight; a combination that is bright and tangy yet earthy. Lesson learned; simpler is better.

Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cake
Burwell General Store

Serves: 8

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: two hours

Equipment: one 9" oven-safe skillet, or 9" or 10" baking round, sifter, whisk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur organic)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt

1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp 1/2 and 1/2 cream

Things To Melt Together
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 ounces dark chocolate, in the range of 82%

Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Sift all dries into an ungreased oven-safe skillet or 9" or 10" round baking dish.
In a microwave-safe mug, add chocolate and butter and heat about 40 seconds on high, or until melted. Stir to combine.
Into the baking dish, add water, cream, vanilla and egg, mix slightly to break up the egg. 
Add melted chocolate and butter to the baking dish, and with a whisk, gently mix together until the flour is incorporated.  Whisk together vigorously for a minute afterwards.
Scrape down the sides of the baking dish with a spatula and wipe with a dampened paper towel to leave a clean edge.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely. With a silicone spatula, carefully unmold the cake from the sides of the pan, then invert the cake onto your hand and work loose by moving your supporting hand (and the cake) back and forth.  Once you feel the cake come loose, right it, put a plate on top and invert onto the plate. It will be upside down, so using a second plate, right it again.
Serve in pie-shaped slices with vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries on the side.

This is possibly the easiest cake I have ever made.  It has a rustic texture that harkens pre-cake mix days, but when I'm not making a cake of a specific technique such as a chiffon, this will become my go-to technique. Reduce your cooking time if you use a 10" cake round. Be sure to let the cake cool completely before unmolding. The not-too-sweet flavor combination of raspberry and espresso is divine; this would be great served with a latte.


  1. Love it! Glad you went with a wartime style wacky cake as well. It looks FAB. p.s. love your new logo!

  2. This is a great post - you have beautiful dishes... I think I need to start collecting some individual (colourful) dishes to give my photos some life like yours. BEAUTIFUL

    Shari from

  3. Love the one-bowl-to-oven-then-you-have-a-cake recipe! Can't wait to try it :) And the anise star is amazing! congrats!

  4. Mouth is watering and its only 6am! Cant wait to attempt this one! Thanks girl!

  5. Will have to try this cake, it seems similar to what I did but for the addition of the aromas... will have to bake it next time I have t bake a chocolate cake!

  6. It's amazing how resourceful our grandparents and great grandparents were when it comes to making sweets without our favorite ingredients! The texture of your cake looks fabulous. As do the berries! Berries and cake always go well together. I too love the simplicity of one dish baking- way less mess to clean up!

  7. CM, I love love love your photos and your styling. And I love the simplicity of this cake! Can't wait to see what's up for the next swap :)

  8. Absolutely beautiful, Christianna! I love that you kept yours rustic and true to the original recipe. The espresso sets it apart entirely though, I cannot wait to give your version a try.

  9. If you ask me, there's nothing like a simple old fashioned chocolate cake.

    Can't wait until the berries are local & in season by me, though...

  10. outstanding job with your entry Christianna! I love the simplicity, but most of all the fact that you cooked in your skillet! What a wonderful rustic cake, and letting the flavors shine through without anything to mask them is the best way to eat a rustic cake, Thanks so much for sharing your creation with us!

  11. Beautiful! And the coffee is a great idea!!! Too many wonderful recipes to want to try out now...I'm going to have to start buying elastic waist pants now!

  12. Christianna, the recipe swap sounds fun. Send me some details. We're getting ready to move and I'm predicting some crazy months ahead, but I'd love to participate at some point.

  13. CM, I was so taken by the prospect of making and baking in the same dish that little Annika (18 months) and I made this for the neighbors this weekend. We had so many guests coming over that we had to double the recipe. I just did a bunch of baking and hadn't made time to go to the grocery to replenish supplies before taking on this one pan cake project so I actually didn't have enough unbleached flour to make two cakes-- so, I made one cake with unbleached flour and the other with wheat flour. They both tasted great warm. I did notice that the one made with whole wheat flour seemed to dry out a bit more quickly the next day. Interesting....

    Neighbors loved the cake and Annika and I loved making and baking it in the same pan!


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