A Bundt Cake Featuring Black Cocoa
We love Bundt cakes here in the Test Kitchen and we are trying to bring them back into favor. There is something simple but delectable about the proportion of cake (a lot of it) to a bit of glaze or frosting. This recipe from the Baked boys, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, highlights black cocoa, which we love; it is an underused ingredient so now you have no excuse but to pick some up. Also check out their Ultimate Birthday Cake, both from their book Baked Occasions.
Excerpted with permission from Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrationsby Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2014. Photos by Brian Kennedy.
It was only after mother ’s day was deemed a smashingly successful holiday that Dad got his official due, albeit fifty-eight years later. Richard Nixon—of all people—signed the proclamation turning Father’s Day into a federally recognized June holiday in 1972. Tie salesmen everywhere rejoiced.
But I was lucky. My dad was not a tie person, and he never wore the cheap, commonly gifted colognes of his day (Drakkar Noir, English Leather, Brut, Stetson, etc.). For him, Father’s Day was about food. His obsession with his battered charcoal grill was boundless (he didn’t switch to gas until long after I left for college), and our family almost always celebrated the day with one long, hazy backyard barbeque. Dad was also a pie and cake man. Preferably à la mode. And after the last burger left the grill and the final beer was guzzled, we moved on to a makeshift Father’s Day cake. Mom made the cake from whatever Betty Crocker mix we had lying around. I decorated it (just barely). Dad always ate two slices.
This cake is perfect for Dad and perfect for backyard barbeques. It is lighter than the average Bundt, courtesy of the whipped cream, and full of smoky cocoa-chocolate flavor. And it is dark. It is spectacularly, almost otherworldly, black. Though the cake would be welcome on its own, we do suggest covering it in our butter whiskey glaze. It provides a welcome sweet contrast, and just enough whiskey to make Dad feel special.
Baked note: If you can get your hands on black cocoa powder, use it in this cake per the recipe, though we don’t recommend subbing it for all the unsweetened cocoa powder here or in other baked goods, as it can be overpowering. It makes a stunningly deep, dark cake without any bitter notes. However, this cake is also wonderful when made completely with regular dark (Dutch-process) cocoa powder, such as Valrhona. The cake might not be as beautifully black, but it will be equally delicious.
- ½ cup (40 g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
- ¼ cup (20 g) unsweetened black cocoa powder (see Baked Note)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee
- 2¼ cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2¼ cups (495 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 ml) canola oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1½ cups (360 ml) heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2½ to 3 cups (280 to 340 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons good-quality whiskey
- Chocolate sprinkles (optional)
- Make the Black Cocoa Bundt: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan, dust with cocoa powder, and knock out the excess. Alternatively, liberally apply a nonstick cooking spray, dust with cocoa, and knock out the excess. Either way, make sure the pan’s nooks and crannies are all thoroughly coated.
- Place both cocoa powders and the instant espresso powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee directly over the powders and whisk until combined. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- In another large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until combined. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk again until just combined. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Whisk each addition gently to combine.
- Whip the cream (either by hand or with a standing mixer) just until medium peaks form. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten it. Fold in half of the remaining whipped cream until just incorporated, then fold in the rest until no streaks remain.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven until a small sharp knife or toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Then gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack so that the crown is facing up. Place a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, if you like, for ease of cleaning) underneath the wire rack.
- Make the Butter Whiskey Glaze: In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. In three parts, add 2½ cups (280 g) confectioners’ sugar, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the whiskey and whisk until uniform. The glaze should be thick and ropy, but pourable—not runny and thin. If the glaze looks too thin, add the remaining ½ cup (60 g) confectioners’ sugar and whisk to combine.
- Assemble the Black Cocoa Bundt: Pour the glaze over the room-temperature cake in thick ribbons; it will slowly drip down the sides. Add a few sprinkles to the top, if you like. Let set for about 15 minutes before serving.
- How to store: The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.