This recipe first appeared in Joy’s 1943 edition as “Hurry Up Cake.” It has the advantage of being mixed in one bowl (a bowl and a spatula will virtually be your only clean up if you use a scale to weigh the ingredients). We like to pair chocolate cakes with light, fluffy frostings, and here we use a whipped cream that is souped up with the addition of sour cream (mascarpone or crème fraîche will work too). The added gelatin stabilizes the whipped cream, preventing it from breaking down and weeping, meaning you can assemble this cake several hours ahead of time. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated.
Quick Cocoa Cake
One 8-inch, two-layer cake (serves 10 to 12)
Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70°F. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour two 8 × 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Whisk together in a large bowl or mix in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment:
1½ cups (165g) cake flour or 1¼ cups (155g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200g) sugar
¼ cup (25g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Add and mix for 1 minute at medium speed:
2 large eggs
½ cup (120g) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (4oz or 115g) unsalted butter, softened
for 1 minute at low speed. Scrape the bowl. Beat for 30 seconds at medium-high speed.
Scrape the batter into the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a knife, unmold, and cool right side up on the rack.
When the cake has cooled completely, prepare the topping. Combine in a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
Pour into a small, heatproof cup or bowl:
1 tablespoon cool water
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes. Place the cup in a pan of simmering water until the gelatin is melted. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Whip the heavy cream mixture until it starts to thicken. With the mixer running, add the melted gelatin in a thin stream. Continue to beat to stiff but not grainy peaks.
Spread a little less than half the whipped cream on the bottom cake layer. Top with the second cake layer, and spread the rest of the whipped cream on top. Garnish heavily with: