On Wednesday, Devin asked, “How would you feel about hosting a birthday party on Saturday?”
And I said, “A birthday party?! For whom?”
He blushed and said, “Well…me.”
In my defense, this was the day after I locked myself in the house because I couldn’t find my keys. Where did the keys finally turn up? My purse.
Clearly, I haven’t been at my brightest lately, but once I realized his birthday was Monday (that is, two days ago), I got excited, especially after he asked if I would make a cake. Contrary to what this post might suggest, I love celebrating Devin’s birthday. Last year we had a big brunch and then went roller-skating. One year I commissioned a piñata that was six feet tall. And the very first party we threw together was a ‘60s-themed birthday party for him.
At 20, I’d never baked a cake from scratch, but I had a vision of chocolate cakes in the shape of records, complete with grooves and those round LP labels on top. Luckily, I had a very generous friend named Alison who had baked me the best cake I’d ever had. That’s the cake I wanted to make for Devin, and Alison was so generous she even gave me the recipe.
The first time I baked it, it was really hard. I thought I would mess it all up, and every single one of my roommates had to help me (to bake and to stay calm), but in the end, we had record-shaped cakes, and everybody loved them.
This past Saturday I baked that cake again. I know I would have liked it for nostalgic reasons no matter what it tasted like, but I promise you, it tasted even better than I remembered. Plus, when I made it for the first time six years ago, Devin went to the store to get drinks and came back with the September issue for me. When I made it this year, Devin went out and came back with a piano. I’m sure my imaginary lawyers would totally advise against this, but I’ll just go ahead and say it: this cake is magic.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing
(adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 1/4 cups soymilk (or another type of milk)
* 1/2 cup coconut oil (or another oil)
* 3/4 cup raspberry jam or preserves
* 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 6 tablespoons margarine (or buttery spread of your choice)
* 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
* Optional: fresh raspberries or sprinkles to decorate the cake
* 1 or 2 cake pans (I used two 8-inch pie pans because we hadn’t finished unpacking our kitchen, and they worked perfectly. You could also use one slightly larger cake pan and make a single-tier cake)
* 1 small bowl
* 1 large bowl
* 1 medium pot
1. First, make the ganache icing. It sounds fancy, but it’s ridiculously easy! Bring ¾ cup of soymilk to a low boil in a medium pot. Add the margarine and let it melt. Then, turn off the heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least one hour to thicken. At that point, it should be easy to pour over your cake.
2. Next, get your cake materials ready! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease your cake pan(s) with a little margarine or oil.
3. Mix your dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, and salt.
4. Mix your wet ingredients in a large bowl: 1 ½ cups of soymilk, the coconut oil (make sure it’s liquid! If it’s solid, melt it in the microwave), ½ cup of the jam or preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix. You can use an electric mixer or your muscles (I used just a fork and it worked perfectly). The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients, but a few small clumps are okay.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is mixed together. If you’re going to use two pans, divide the batter between the prepared pans. Otherwise, pour it into one pan. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. (I baked mine for exactly 41 minutes, so make sure you check it at 40!) Remove from oven and let cool in pans.
6. It’s time to put icing on the cake! When the cakes have cooled, spread one layer of cake with the rest of your raspberry jam or preserves. If you’re making a single-layer cake, just mix the raspberry jam with the chocolate ganache. The ganache should be the perfect consistency for pouring over the cake––my favorite way to spread icing on a cake because it’s easy and looks nice.
7. Decorate it to your liking! Raspberries on top look really pretty, but so would sprinkles or nothing at all––a chocolate cake is a thing of beauty on its own.