When I was a child, my goals were simple: I wanted to read all of the Nancy Drew mysteries, and I wanted to eat more cake. My library card helped me achieve my first goal. But when I would ask my mother to bake me a cake, she would tell me she was too busy and that I would have to make it myself.
I quickly agreed, but there was another condition to contend with: my very crafty mother told me she would not buy me cake mixes: instead, I would have to look in her cookbook, then look in the pantry, and see what I could make.
My mom has no time for dilettantes, and I think she thought that I, as a third grader, would quickly give up. Instead, I made a chiffon cake with seven-minute frosting (and her assistance). But I wanted more. I wanted chocolate! During my trip through the pantry, I stumbled across our box of Hershey’s Cocoa, and discovered Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake.
To this day, this is the most popular cake I make on a regular basis–and it’s cheap and super simple. It’s also rich, moist, and so chocolatey, it begs for vanilla ice cream (or at least a glass of milk).
When I got older and had more money, I tried other, seemingly more promising, chocolate cake recipes, bursting with butter (this one calls for vegetable oil) and good-quality melted chocolate. But everyone would eat them politely and then one person (usually my brother) would sigh and say, “This is good, but I really like that other chocolate cake you make …”
This is a great birthday cake. Or fantastic cupcakes. Or a superb sheet cake. I’ve even quadrupled the recipe and made a memorable wedding cake, with the addition of fresh raspberries between the layers.
But again: this is super simple, and simply delicious. Even a novice baker can make this, just read the recipe and follow the instructions!
Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
Makes one two-layer 9-inch cake, or one 9×13-inch cake, or 30+ cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting. Makes 12 servings.
One-Pan Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan and line the bottom with waxed paper. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
Three Layer Cake: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
Bundt Cake: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
Cupcakes: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.
Wedding Cake: Heat oven to 350° F. Make one batch, pour into two 9-inch round pans (greased floured, the bottoms lined in waxed paper). Measure the depth of the batter. Bake as above. Make a triple batch. Grease, flour, and wax paper two 6-inch round pans and two 12″ round pans. Pour batter to same height as the 9-inch layers in each pan (use any leftover for cupcakes). Bake 6-inch layers for about 22 to 25 minutes (test with a wooden toothpick–when it comes out clean, it’s done). Bake 12-inch layers 35 to 40 minutes. Test with toothpicks. Proceed with unmolding as above. Trim layers and decorate as desired (I spread raspberry jam and placed fresh raspberries between the layers of each tier of the cake above, before frosting the exterior in chocolate).
“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Beat butter. Alternately add powdered sugar, cocoa, and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
2. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
Make it. Eat it. Bring it to parties and celebrations. Enjoy.