When we were in the planning stages of last month’s tea party-themed collaborative shoot, I volunteered to make some treats to set the stage (and to snack on, obviously). Since we styled a series of black and white lingerie looks, I decided to make dishes that were vaguely in keeping with the black and white theme– white chocolate tarts with blackberries, tea sandwiches on both light and dark bread, petit fours with white chocolate fondant and blackberry filling, and my favorite cocoa pound cake with a dusting of powdered sugar.
This cake is so easy y’all. Yes, you have to beat the ingredients for quite a long time (I strongly, STRONGLY recommend using an electric mixer if you have one), but the payoff is an incredibly rich, unbelievably tender cake. The recipe comes from Death by Chocolate Cakes, and I’ve made it so many times I knew it wouldn’t let me down on a jam-packed baking day when I’d be juggling lots of different recipes.
While I was thrilled with how everything turned out for the shoot, and I am BEYOND happy to have an actual professional photograph of one of my recipes, I was surprised by how…wan I found the chocolate flavor this time around. It’s a cocoa pound cake, y’all– it should taste rich and dark and chocolatey, and instead I mostly tasted the butter and eggs and sugar that go into any great pound cake. So the recipe as printed here has been adapted to really punch up the chocolate flavor: I reduced the flour and upped the cocoa levels, and I swapped out some of the milk for some hot strong espresso. These slight changes give the cake a deeper, richer flavor and a noticeably darker color.
COCOA POUND CAKE
adapted from Death by Chocolate Cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a mix of several Dutch-process cocoas here for deep color and rich flavor)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
3/4 pound (1 1/2 cups, 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10″ Bundt pan (you can also use a standard 10″ tube pound cake pan, but I like Bundt pans because then your cake looks fancy).
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together over a piece of waxed paper and set aside.
Dissolve the espresso powder in 1/4 cup boiling water. Stir in 1/2 cup whole milk and set aside.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed for 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat for an additional 3 minutes on medium. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase speed to high, and beat for 4 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat the mixture on high speed for 4 minutes; it should be very light in color and look like dense pastry cream.
With the mixer running on low, slowly add 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients followed by 1/2 the coffee-milk mixture. Mix for about 30 seconds until combined. Add 1/3 the dry ingredients followed by the remaining coffee-milk mixture and mix 30 seconds until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds on low. Add the vanilla extract and mix for 15 seconds. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix gently until all ingredients have been thoroughly combined.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 6 minutes (my oven is temperamental, so I started checking at 55 minutes and pulled mine out at 1 hour and 3 minutes). I think the cake is best if it’s ever so slightly underdone– you want a fudgey ribbon of goodness running through the cake for maximum deliciousness, so a tester will come out with some damp crumbs attached. If you prefer a “well-done” cake with a more even texture, bake for about an hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan at room temperature for 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving platter. Let cool completely at room temperature. The cake will stay fresh for a few days if stored in an airtight container. It tastes AMAZING served with some softly whipped cream and berries, and I’ve even been known to eat a slice spread with cream cheese for breakfast, because I consistently make healthy life choices.
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