A few years ago, a good friend gave me the Sarabeth’s Bakery cookbook. The first thing I made was Mrs. Stein’s Chocolate Cake (page 115). I’m not a super duper chocolate lover– I usually need to have a glass of milk to balance the richness. This cake is the perfect amount of chocolate for me.
Mrs. Stein’s Chocolate Cake (adapted recipe, originally from Sarabeth Levine, Epicurious)
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
- Softened unsalted butter and flour, for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 ounce (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (In a pinch, I’ve used chocolate chips)
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 3/4 cups superfine sugar (Over the years, I’ve used fine sugar a few times and can’t tell the difference)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish, optional
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour the inside of a 8 to 10-cup fluted tube pan and tap out the excess flour.
- Combine the milk and lemon juice in a glass measuring cup. Let stand in a warm place (near the preheating oven) while preparing the rest of the batter; the milk will curdle. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl.
- Bring 1/2 inch of water to a simmer in a small saucepan, and turn off the heat. Place the chocolate in a custard cup or ramekin and set in the hot water. Let stand until the chocolate is melted, then remove from the water, being careful not to splash any water into the chocolate, and stir until smooth. Let stand until tepid.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the sugar, then add the vanilla. Beat until the mixture is very light in color and texture, scraping occasionally, about 4 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Beat in the cooled chocolate. In thirds, alternating with two equal additions of the milk mixture, add the flour mixture, scraping down the bowl and beating until smooth after each addition. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed with your finger, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert and unmold the cake onto the rack and cool completely. Sift a light coating of confectioners’ sugar on top, if using. (The cake can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.)
One big tip I’ve learned after making this a few times:
Check on the cake after 50 minutes. Because this cake isn’t rich it can dry out quickly. If you’re making this in a dark pan, it will most likely need to be pulled out early.