Chocolate cake

Plain old chocolate birthday cake

Sometimes you’re not trying to impress anybody, you just need a really basic chocolate cake, like for a child’s birthday party, or for a child to make on his own. This is a very simple cake, and only takes a few minutes to throw together. You could have it all made in 45 minutes, except for frosting.

What about the frosting?

If you’re in a hurry, just dust it with powdered sugar. You can make it pretty by laying leaves on top and shaking the powdered sugar over them, then removing the leaves. But if you have time to let it cool completely, you can add buttercream frosting later.

How to make a simple chocolate cake:

In a medium-size mixing bowl, melt a stick of butter and a package of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips in the microwave for one minute, or another minute if needed. Take it out and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Meanwhile, grease an 8×8 pan. Add a cup of sugar, one teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon vanilla, and mix. Add two eggs, and mix. Add 1 1/2 cups of milk and mix. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, mix, and you’re done.

*This recipe is extremely flexible. As long as you get anywhere near these proportions with all the ingredients in, it will make a cake. Feel free to add more eggs, more chocolate, whatever. It will be fine.

Bake at 350 for about half an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely if you want to ice it. The cake has to be cold or it will melt the icing.

For the icing, mix a half stick of butter (or half a package of cream cheese if you like) with two heaping cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Use an electric mixer to mix them together – go slowly at first, then faster at the end. Once made, mix in a few squirts of chocolate syrup for chocolate icing, or a teaspoon of lemon zest for vanilla icing. Use a drop of food coloring on the vanilla icing to make colored icing.

Vegetarian or vegan

Just naturally vegetarian! Enjoy! Or try this vegan chocolate mousse.

Can I keep this for later?

Sure. This chocolate cake will be fine for a week or so in the fridge.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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