I love cake. I always have. I love most cake flavors, but for my birthday, my mom always makes me chocolate. And because she loves me, she LEAVES THE FROSTING OFF. There are some frostings I don't mind, but I love cake so much, I figure, why ruin a good thing? Cake is so good by itself.
Another reason I like cake? Because box mixes go on sale so frequently I can stock up, and when the mood strikes, I can have cake at a few moments' notice. I know some people have an aversion to boxed cake mix (my mother-in-law, to name one), but what can I say? My palate isn't so refined that I can't still enjoy Betty Crocker's convenient mixes.
In fact, until recently, I had only ever made cake from a mix--I wasn't scared to try one from scratch, but I just didn't see the point in going to the trouble when I liked the box variety just fine. But a while back, I complied a cookbook of some of my husband's family's favorite recipes. Among the 30 dessert recipes was one for my mother-in-law's Moist Chocolate Cake. When, last week, I got a hankering for chocolate cake and had no chocolate mix on hand, I knew I had to try it.
Sweet fancy Moses, it was good. I sampled a piece while the cake was still slightly warm (because my willpower is lacking, apparently), and it was light and airy, with a tiny bit of crunch on the top. It was divine, I tell you. Now, it is pretty delicate, and if you're looking for a cake to decorate for your child's birthday party, this is probably not the one. I suspect it wouldn't stand up to heavy frosting. But if you want a fluffy, tender, soul-satisfying cake whose rich chocolate flavor you can augment with some sweetened whipped cream or fruit or some sort of gooey, drippy glaze, then, friend, look no further.
Or better yet, in my opinion, eat it plain. Eat it for breakfast on a Sunday morning while huddled over a heating vent, like my kids did a couple of days ago. Eat it in a house, with a mouse. Eat it with ice cream scooped on top. Whichever way you do it, you're going to love this one.
Moist Chocolate Cake
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. hot coffee
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
Stir together dry ingredients.
Add oil, coffee, and milk. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla. Beat for two more minutes. Batter will be VERY RUNNY.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (The original recipe says 25-30 minutes, but that MUST be a typo.)
My mother-in-law likes to top the cooled cake with 2 cans of cherries or 2 cups of sliced strawberries, and mounds of Cool Whip. I, as you know, like it plain. But do whatever suits you!