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Moist but not dense chocolate cake recipe?

Janine Dec 30, 2008 07:43 PM

Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions on a recipe for a moist but not heavy chocolate cake.

the one I'm currently using is a vegan one, which I like but I wanted one that was more moist and somewhat lighter in texture. I'm in Toronto, ON and we have this bakery called Dufflets and they make this Black and White cake and the cake is moist and yet not heavy and I was hoping to find something like that.


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  1. ipsedixit RE: Janine Dec 30, 2008 08:33 PM

    Take your normal chocolate cake recipe (i.e., butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, flour vanilla, eggs) and add pureed canned beets and beet juice to the mixture.

    You don't taste the beets, nor do you see them as they get camouflaged in the chocolate, but the beets add an incredible layer of moisture to the cake, without making it dense at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit
      alkapal RE: ipsedixit Mar 23, 2009 05:16 PM

      cool trick, ipse.
      one regular can of beets?

    2. m
      middydd RE: Janine Dec 30, 2008 09:21 PM

      Your best bets are either the Hershey's Black Magic Cake or the cake recipe from the Epicurious Double Chocolate Layer Cake.



      2 Replies
      1. re: middydd
        Janine RE: middydd Jan 1, 2009 07:44 PM

        both these recipes sound yummy..the epicurious one has so many good reviews that I am tempted to start here with my experiments...thanks very much chowhounds.

        1. re: middydd
          GilaB RE: middydd Mar 23, 2009 10:22 PM

          The Black Magic cake, which is on the back of every box of Hershey's cocoa, is absurdly easy, reliable, quite flexible in terms of flavor add-ins, and stays moist for days. I've made it non-dairy (with soymilk), orange-chocolate (use OJ instead of milk), cinnamon (add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry ingredients), and several other variations, all of which come out well.

        2. t
          TerriL RE: Janine Dec 30, 2008 09:39 PM

          Hi Janine,

          I make a vegan chocolate cake too, but it's really moist. Here's a link to a post with the recipe if you want to compare it to the one you've been making (or just click on my name):

          1 Reply
          1. re: TerriL
            Janine RE: TerriL Jan 1, 2009 07:37 PM

            Hi TerriL,

            Your recipe is similar but the dry is different proportions. I will have it as one of trials to see how it turns out..thanks

          2. l
            LisaPA RE: Janine Dec 31, 2008 07:48 AM

            I second the use of coffee--it adds a layer of complexity and it adds moistness. Also, applesauce is a really good addition to baked things to make them moist without fat. I've never tried it, but I've also heard that pureed prunes are great with chocolate (similar to the beets) in the same way you would use applesauce.

            18 Replies
            1. re: LisaPA
              pitu RE: LisaPA Dec 31, 2008 08:07 AM

              The "Very Good Chocolate Cake" recipe from The Gift Of Southern Cooking (Lewis/Peacock) uses coffee - it's light and moist, with a very fine crumb.
              discussed previously here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406975

              The beet thing is intriguing . . .

              1. re: pitu
                buttertart RE: pitu Mar 23, 2009 09:55 AM

                I made this yesterday and was not pleased with the texture, which was rather dense and gummy. I wonder what went wrong, as I am an experienced baker and followed the recipe closely.

                1. re: buttertart
                  addicted2cake RE: buttertart Mar 23, 2009 03:07 PM

                  Maybe you over mixed the batter? This has happened to me on more than one occasion. Flour should be gently combined with wet ingredients for as short a time as possible, unless the recipe tells you to do otherwise. Wheat forms gluten when moistened. Too much gluten development can yield a tough, dense, and gummy cake. I'm sure you did everything right, as per the recipe. I have found that many recipes don't include mixing times, so there's a tendency to over mix. If I'm wrong about this, maybe some other hound will give you their impression of what went wrong and their advice. I hope you try again. Sounds like a lovely cake.

                  1. re: buttertart
                    modthyrth RE: buttertart Mar 23, 2009 03:48 PM

                    Did you replace all the fat in the cake? If you replace all the fat--with applesauce, prunes, pumpkin or whatever--you'll end up with a gummy, rubbery cake (or banana bread, etc.). Fat inhibits gluten formation, so if you want the right texture, you need at least some fat. I'll sub some, even most, of the fat in a recipe, but never all of it.

                    1. re: modthyrth
                      jsheridan1956 RE: modthyrth Jun 28, 2011 04:38 PM

                      put 25% of butterfat, hydrogenated fat, also Oils, but water amt. may have to be adjusted. I've found that Mayo, creme fraische (or sour cream) & buttermilk --the addition of all or some-- is great to experiment with for soft, moist, yet structured cake. Cooking with Vodka also helps the crumb/texture of cake. experiment with the above using a ratio (by weight) of 1pt flour, 1 pt sugar, 1 pt egg, 1 pt butter (fat/oil).

                    2. re: buttertart
                      chowser RE: buttertart Mar 23, 2009 04:33 PM

                      If you used the Washington Post recipe posted above, then the author replaced all the oil with applesauce and recommended yogurt over sour cream, from the original version. I think you need oil/butter in cake for the right texture/taste. Also, the original version uses cake flour which would make a much lighter cake; and calls for coffee over hot water which is a nice addition to chocolate. This is the original version:


                      1. re: chowser
                        pitu RE: chowser Mar 24, 2009 05:02 AM

                        When I made it, I used peanut oil, and coffee, AP flour since I didn't have cake flour. I'm pretty sure I used Total/Fage Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
                        No other substitutions, light superfine crumb.

                        Totally curious about what went wrong/was subbed in yours. I didn't notice the WaPo messing around with the recipe so much -- I just googled -- so your gummy applesauce cake might be my fault! I have the Gift Of Southern Cooking book, and made it as originally written.

                        chowser posted a much better link!

                        1. re: pitu
                          chowser RE: pitu Mar 24, 2009 09:51 AM

                          The Gift of Southern Cooking, original recipe, sounds really good and easy. I'm going to give it a try (and stay away from the WaPo version!). Thanks!

                        2. re: chowser
                          buttertart RE: chowser Mar 24, 2009 10:09 AM

                          I used the recipe posted here. I did think no butter or oil was odd but went ahead with it thinking some manner of cake magic would transpire. Which it did not. Am continuing my search for a moist and somewhat shaggy-textured plain chocolate cake. My ideal texture would be a cake version of an Aero chocolate bar, with visible bubbles.

                          1. re: buttertart
                            chowser RE: buttertart Mar 24, 2009 11:45 AM

                            Have you tried Hershey's black magic cake? It has a shaggy texture, very moist. I also like the chocolate fudge cake from Cooks Illustrated that Patrincia mentioned below but it's more cakey textured than shaggy. I don't know what an aero bar is like or I'd be able to narrow down cakes that are closer.

                            I found a picture of the black magic cake (though it does have more visible bubles):


                            1. re: buttertart
                              addicted2cake RE: buttertart Mar 24, 2009 12:26 PM

                              What is a shaggy texture? I've never heard of this. Thanks!

                              1. re: addicted2cake
                                buttertart RE: addicted2cake Mar 24, 2009 12:30 PM

                                My term for a somewhat loose and airy texture, with visible cell structure. Will try Hershe's cake and report.

                                1. re: buttertart
                                  addicted2cake RE: buttertart Mar 24, 2009 02:31 PM

                                  Thanks for the explanation. I can always count on my fellow hounds for teaching me new things!

                      2. re: LisaPA
                        Steady Habits RE: LisaPA Dec 31, 2008 08:20 AM

                        Bananas are great, too, mashed into chocolate baked goods, and add moisture, but I think your suggestion of applesauce would make the texture lighter as OP requests.

                        1. re: Steady Habits
                          petitgateau RE: Steady Habits Dec 31, 2008 02:12 PM

                          I second the hersheys cake recipe. The one I use is on the back of the cocoa container. It uses oil, not butter, so if you wanted a vegan recipe, I think this might do (I'm not vegan so I don't know for certain). It is very moist and is my go to chocolate cake.

                          1. re: petitgateau
                            chowser RE: petitgateau Dec 31, 2008 02:39 PM

                            I like the black magic cake, too, and it's my quick go-to chocolate cake. It's not vegan, though, since it has eggs and buttermilk but I don't think that's an issue for the OP. I do find it to be a dense cake.

                            For a light cake, I'd try one where you beat sugar with butter for lightness and then separate the eggs and beat the whites. Something like this godiva cake, which I'm going to have to try because it looks really good.


                            1. re: chowser
                              Janine RE: chowser Jan 1, 2009 07:38 PM

                              this does sound very good. thanks as I will be doing some experimenting in the next 2 months. otherwise, I'll never fit into anything if I make all these cakes!

                            2. re: petitgateau
                              addicted2cake RE: petitgateau Jan 1, 2009 06:49 PM

                              I made this cake yesterday. Melts in your mouth!! Delicious!!

                        2. a
                          adamshoe RE: Janine Dec 31, 2008 04:04 PM

                          My Grandma's recipe from the 30's- Hershey's Syrup Cake. I posted the recipe on recipezaar last year. Hope it's still there. Try searching "Nana's chocolate syrup cake" Adam

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: adamshoe
                            addicted2cake RE: adamshoe Jan 3, 2009 07:48 AM

                            I sometimes make a chocolate chiffon or chocolate angel cake. Very light, deliious chocolate flavor. A bit more labor intensive than your standard butter type cake, but a lovely change of pace. I get my recipes for these cakes from baking911.com, epicurious.com, and allrecipes.com. I like reading the reviews on these sites then choosing the recipe with the least modifications.

                          2. NeNePie RE: Janine Jan 5, 2009 02:53 PM

                            Hi there ... I'm Janine too. We used to make a cake called "30 minute cake," that I've seen others call "Texas sheet cake." It's basically a cocoa cake with buttermilk. Very light and very flavorful and moist. I don't have my recipe but this one looks very similar.


                            1. k
                              katcraig RE: Janine Jan 13, 2009 04:04 AM

                              My favorite is the Hershey's Black Magic Cake. It's super moist, deeply chocolate, and easy to make. You'll have the batter ready before the oven preheats. Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recip...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: katcraig
                                Janine RE: katcraig Feb 13, 2009 03:44 PM

                                So finally got around to making one of these cakes. I debated over the epicurious and hersheys and hershey's won. I love it..light and moist and sooo easy to make. I used oil instead of butter as one of the links had. Thanks very much chowhounds for your suggestions. I may try the godiva one next.

                                1. re: Janine
                                  Patrincia RE: Janine Mar 23, 2009 03:51 PM

                                  Try the Chocolate Fudge Cake from The Cake Bible - the name of the recipe is deceiving - extra moist and not dense at all. Excellent flavor!

                              2. t
                                tastycakes RE: Janine Mar 24, 2009 04:03 PM

                                i love ina garten's recipe in the barefoot contessa cookbook. you can also find it on the epicurious website. it's incredible paired with cook's illustrated chocolate fudge icing recipe that's made in a food processor.

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