Did you know that TODAY is National Chocolate Cake Day? When I told my daughter this, she immediately wanted to spread the word and bake a cake… HERSELF. She thought that due to this ‘national holiday’ I’d be having a baking class of my own, and naturally she wanted to be invited. (I’m not having a class today, FYI.) So, being the loving mother I am, I gave up all of the control and we made a recipe so simple and easy that a kid could do it. We had a blast doing it and she loved being able to do everything for her cake (minus put it into the oven). Here is the recipe, and a quick note… I’ve adapted it significantly but you can find a similar one on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box. The best part about this cake is that the batter is made in one big bowl, by first adding the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients. No creaming, beating, folding etc. Just plain and simple baking at its finest and it makes one great cake. And let me add, once you make this Lightly Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream you will never make any other frosting again. Well I can say this because it is true for me! The frosting takes a little extra care, but is totally worth it! (I still call this Kid’s Chocolate Cake even with a complicated frosting because by the time it was frosting making time my kids were napping. I decided to make MY favorite frosting, maybe not beginner worthy but DIVINE. IF you want a super-easy peanut butter frosting, it is at the bottom of the post for kids that are still hanging in there are ready to finish their cake.)
Kid-Simple Chocolate Cake *(step by step photos) Full recipe at the bottom of post.
Start by preparing the ingredient you will use last. One cup of hot coffee.
Grab a large mixing bowl and measure 2 C of sugar into it.
To the sugar, measure and add 1 3/4 C all purpose flour, and tick your brother off because he can’t touch ANYTHING. Someday buddy, someday.
Set brother aside in high chair and give him a little flour to play with so he is happy.
Then it is time to measure cocoa powder, 3/4 C.
Teach your children what 1 tsp of anything looks like and show them how to measure in the palm of their hand. She’s adding 1 tsp of salt here.
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda, again in her palm.
If the palm measuring is too much for you, grab a measuring spoon or a rather unscientific spoon from the flatware drawer. Measure 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder.
Now grab your whisk… (if anyone knows me well, they know that this whisk is my ‘sucky’, ‘b’, ‘baba’ whatever your children call their favorite “THING”, (binkie, bottle, blankie…) well this is my favorite whisk. EVER. I love my daughter, she can use it.
Crack two eggs into a separate container, (I use a clear glass container because on the black background of my countertop I can detect any shell-activity.) I’m happy to report there were no egg shells in the 2 cracked eggs. Go girl!
Add those eggs right into your ‘hole’ in the dry ingredients:
Now measure 1 C of milk into a small bowl, to this add 1 T vinegar. This will ‘sour’ or curdle the milk, bringing the acidity up and creating buttermilk. Let this mixture stand 1 minute to work its magic.
Then add it to the bowl.
Now measure 1/2 C of the oil of your choice (I used extra virgin olive oil today).
Pour your oil in, as fancy as you like!
Now add 2 tsp of your favorite vanilla. Thanks Uncle Bobby for our vanilla we’re using today. See how we measure… “Say 1…2…” = two teaspoons
Grab that whisk and give these ingredients a twirl until well combined. (1 minute)
Get after it!
Now, remember that hot brewed coffee (1 C)? Grab it and add it to your mixture. Continue to whisk.
The batter will be very thin.
Now, spray your 1/2 sheet pan (12″ x 17″) or you can do 9×13 for a thicker cake. We still spray the edges of the pan even though we bake directly on a silicone liner.
Pour your well mixed batter into the sprayed pan.
Have an adult put the pan in a preheated 350 oven.
And wait… while you bake for 25 minutes. (The cake will be done when a toothpick inserted into the center of it comes out clean.)
Once the cake is baked well, remove it from the oven and if you live in a “home of little patience” you’ll set your cake outdoors (since it is FREEZING here) and it will cool quickly. Otherwise, cool your cake completely before frosting… and that’s where we will have to take a break because we have to go feed sows.
Later today we’ll post the frosting recipe… promise!
Bye-bye from the boy who has to play with flour while we make a cake.
And the cake baker… who just shouted: “Mom I’ve got that big whip to keep that boar off ya when you’re feeding”. Thanks honey… Mommy will need it!
Annnnnnd we’re back, it is 4:00 p.m. and time to make frosting! Swiss Meringue buttercream is a cooked egg white/sugar mixture with butter added to it then lastly, melted chocolate added in also… to make it more irresistible. I LOVE this frosting. I can’t eat much of the traditional American Buttercream anymore, because truthfully, it is cloyingly sweet and I can’t handle it. (Traditional American Buttercream: butter, heaps of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.) Swiss meringue buttercream is where my frosting vote goes now, this frosting is soft, luscious and satiny. Be sure you cook the egg white/sugar mixture to 160 for food safety reasons and also, it will give you extra insurance that the sugar crystals will melt beautifully and you will have a nice soft frosting without crunchy sugar in it.
To make Lightly Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting, gather a few ingredients:
Chop the 4 oz. of chocolate finely. Then go ahead and microwave it for 15 second intervals, stirring each time until the chocolate is melted.
Separate your eggs, either by taking the yolk from shell to shell until the entire white falls into the bowl or using your hands. Whatever you do, don’t let any of the yolk get into your egg white bowl. It will hinder the fluffiness of your frosting.
Give these yolks to your dog, it’s coat will thank you!
Now, maniacally whisk this mixture so it doesn’t cook the eggs, rather just warms them steadily. Plus you want this sugar to melt so you don’t have crunchy frosting… oui oui!
Told you this pot has simmering water under it!
Keep whisking constantly and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees, or in this case 161. (Seriously!)
Add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.
Pour this marshmallow-like mixture into a stand mixer bowl.
Add the whisk attachment, secure and lock the head and whip this mixture on high speed until it is completely cooled (8-10 minutes). You can do this with a handheld mixer too.
Once cooled, add the room temperature butter 1 TBSP at a time while the mixer is running. (Don’t worry if it curdles, just keep mixing, it will come back together.)
Add the chocolate now and mix until well combined. (These things are hard to do with 2 hands! You get the point eh?)
This is what your satiny, smooth, luscious, PDG ‘pretty darned good’ frosting will look like. If it is runnier than this it is because you didn’t get the egg white/sugar mixture cool enough before you added your butter/chocolate. Just stick the bowl outside for 5 minutes in our sub zero Midwest temps and let it chill the mixture a bit. Bring it back in and whip for 2-5 more minutes until fluffy. Like this:
Resist the urge to eat it ALL at once, just try it (I’ll allow you a tablespoon worth) and then frost your cake…
You can flat frost it and then get ‘fanc-sheeee’ as my son says.
No cake in this house is considered complete without a good dose of rainbow sparkling sugar.
Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!
Full Print Kid’s Chocolate Cake Recipe:
2 C sugar
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk (or sour milk, see picture above)
1/2 C olive oil, or vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C hot coffee
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine. Dig hole in center of dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients except for coffee. Whisk these ingredients together until smooth. Add coffee, whisk well. Batter will be thin. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes for a 12 x 17 sheet pan or 35-40 minutes for a 9×13 pan.
Cool completely, and frost. Top with sparkling sugar sprinkles if desired.
Lightly Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1 C sugar
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C salted butter, at room temperature
4 oz chocolate, melted and cooled
In a glass bowl suspended (but not touching) over simmering water, whisk egg whites and sugar until mixture reaches 160 degrees. Transfer marshmallow-like mixture to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add vanilla and beat hot mixture on high speed until cool (8-10 minutes or so). Once cooled, leave mixer on high and add butter, 1 TBSP at a time until incorporated and fluffy. (This frosting will look curdled before it comes together again, don’t worry.) Add melted/cooled chocolate and beat 1 minute more. Use immediately.
Peanut Butter Easy Frosting (This is one of our easy-favorites)
In a large bowl, beat together:
1 stick of butter, 1/4 C peanut butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 3-4 C powdered sugar and a tablespoon or two of milk to get the desired consistency. Spread evenly on cooled cake, top with peanut butter cups or chocolate sprinkles. Makes a nice amount of frosting.