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Chocolate Cake for for 12-15

I'm in charge of making a chocolate cake for a birthday party on Wednesday. All of the recipes I have are for 8" or 9" cakes. I don't think that would be enough (even a 2 layer). I have a 10" bundt pan, a 10" springform pan and an 11" tart pan (removable bottom). I also have a 9x13 ceramic pan I use for roasting veg, but I'm not sure if baking in it is a good idea. (I don't have time to buy a new pan before Wed.) Does anyone have a nut-free amazing chocolate cake that is big enough and would work in one of my pans? Something intensely chocolate would be much-appreciated by this crowd. I made a flourless chocolate cake the other day that was fabulous, but much too small for my guests and it was so awkward cutting smaller & smaller pieces! I don't want that to happen again! Thanks!

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  1. I like The Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake. I don't use the pecans, and it's always a crowd pleaser,but it uses a jellly roll pan.


    1. This recipe from epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/articlesgui...) is my go to chocolate cake. It makes a ton of cake -- last time I used it to make cupcakes and I ended up with 2 dozen (and I make my cupcakes fairly large). The recipe says that it makes two 10" layers, so maybe you could use the springform or the tart pan and do it in two batches? Or you could go the cupcake route and give everyone their own individual cake.

      This cake is moist and deliciously chocolaty. The best best best intensely chocolaty icing is Incredible Chocolate Icing from Mendelson and Roitberg's "Nuts About Chocolate." I'll paraphrase it here, in case you would like to give it a try. My favourite way to eat this particular chocolate cake, however, is with whipped cream.

      Incredible Chocolate Icing

      1/2 cup butter
      1 cup icing sugar
      2/3 cup cocoa
      1 tsp vanilla
      2 Tbsp milk
      2 Tbsp hot coffee

      Blend the butter, icing sugar and cocoa until nice and smooth. Add the vanilla, milk and coffee. The recipe claims that a food processor is the ideal tool and that an electric mixer will work only slightly less well. I don't have either and use a whisk and a little elbow grease and it comes out just fine.

      12 Replies
      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        That cake is beyond amazing and it makes a TON of cake. I've only used the cake recipe, not the filling or frosting.

        Last spring I made it in 3 8-inch layers for my kid's birthday and had nearly all the moms ask for the recipe. That version had a peanut butter filling and a traditional Italian meringue buttercream frosting. This weekend I made it as a test cake for an upcoming adult birthday. This time I did the two 10-inch layers, a caramelized banana-rum bavarian filling, and a chocolate glaze poured over the top.

        The Epi recipe is really worth trying.

        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

          I third this recipe for good chocolatey flavor. Using the OP constraints as pans go, I'd probably bake it in three pans, the 8", 9" and the 10" spring form pan. Put each layer on a carboard cake round (easy to cut your own out of cardboard and then wrap in aluminum foil). Then frost the bottom layer (frost the cardboard round, too), top w/ the 9" repeat until you've frosted the 8". It'll look like a chocolate wedding cake but it's pretty! When serving, remove each tier and then cut. FWIW, I baked this cake in three 8" rounds once and stacked them all. It made a VERY tall cake (taller than it was wide) but pretty. I cut pieces out of each tier but w/ the same size tiers, it's hard to find each one. I think cake cutting, large cakes, is as much of a skill as cake decorating.

          1. re: chowser

            Thanks everyone for these ideas! @Chowser -- your instructions are perfect, not just for this party but for my son's bday which is also coming up. He wants a triple layer cake with Tin Tin coming out of the top!

            1. re: jessinEC

              It's even easier to frost if you refrigerate the layers, wrapped in plastic, overnight.

          2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

            I've made this cake multiple times, and i always bake it in 3 9" pans, which seems to be exactly right. It serves far more than 12-15 since it is an extremely large cake. I have never made the frosting show with it since my son prefers a vanilla frosting with chocolate cake. I make the cooked flour frosting that you can find the recipe for on this board. I double it when baking this cake.

            1. re: roxlet

              roxlet, yesyesyes..three 9" pans works for me too...first time I made this was back in 2001...have made it at least 10 times since then, all to raving audiences, family, church, co-workers, you name it...IT.IS.LEGEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

              I can also (fourth?) that. I need to make cupcakes for an upcoming wedding and used that chocolate cake recipe for cupcakes for a test run. I then filled them with caramel filling, fleur de sel and topped with Martha's dark chocolate frosting. My co-workers were sending me emails thanking me for a OMG ridiculously wonderful cupcake. It is my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

              1. re: foodie_guru

                @Chowser & Rockycat -- Thanks for the tip on chilling it -- it totally improved the texture and it got rave reviews. But -- @ foodie_guru, when you made the cupcakes, did they dome? As I wrote somewhere in this thread, my spread and were flat...would love to hear how to make these into pretty cupcakes...

                1. re: jessinEC

                  If your spread was flat, I'd add an extra tablespoon or two of flour to it. You need to increase the flour/fat ratio. How did you measure the dry ingredients? That could make a big difference in the rise if you were off.

                  Glad it worked out, though! I'm sure it was well appreciated.

                  1. re: jessinEC

                    It just occurred to me when I was baking it today that this isn't a cupcake recipe and with the oil, instead of starting w/ creaming butter and sugar, you won't get the dome. It's a flat topped cake.

                    If you want a good chocolate cupcake recipe, I like the Georgetown cupcake recipe (recipe is a little fussy w/ using the "right" brand ingredients but I use what I have in the house and it's fine.


                    1. re: chowser

                      The last time I made cupcakes I used this recipe and, incidentally, I replaced the oil with melted butter (used about 1/4 less than called for) because I happened to be out of oil. They domed nicely and it could very well have been because of the butter (although I didn't cream it, I just melted and cooled it somewhat and dumped it right in).

                      That Georgetown recipe also looks very good.

                      1. re: chowser

                        this is so interesting -- the oil vs. butter difference and the impact on doming. thank you so much! I have to eat dairy free, so I tend to gravitate towards the oil recipes (although I didn't eat this cake because of the buttermilk & buttercream frosting I made). But now I'll know what to do if I want pretty cupcakes...

                2. You might be able to do it with a 3 layer 9 inch cake and use thin slices. You could even do a few things to make it really rich to ensure thin slices like a ganache frosting or lemon curd filling.

                  You might also be able to buy one of those disposable aluminum sheet pans at your grocery store.

                  1. I just made a German Chocolate Cake from my Fannie Farmer cookbook. It calls for 3 round 9" pans, but I only had 8" square pans which worked just fine. It was massive and so rich. We could easily get 12-15 slices out of it.

                    If you don't have any other pans than what you listed, though, I'm not sure. What about a chocolate cheesecake?

                    1. Pan tip for quantity servings: I have successfully used a 13 x 9 x 2 pan for a large group. This is what I do:

                      I bake a standard cake recipe (one that usually makes two round layers, as much as a commercial cake mix) in the 13 x 9 pan. When it is done, take it out of the pan (grease, flour and parchment that thing well, at the beginning).

                      After it is cool (or freeze it so it is frozen), cut in half lengthwise (with a sharp knife, or thread, or unflavored dental floss). Put bottom layer on your serving plate.

                      Now you have two layers. Fill the middle with fresh whipped cream (you can also use mousse, pudding, frosting, add some fresh raspberries too.. whatever). Put the top layer back on and frost top and sides with chocolate ganache (or icing or whatever you like.)

                      This way you get a two layer cake when you cut it, and should serve 20 people easily.

                      EDIT: After you cut the cake, you can put the bottom layer back in the pan, fill it, put the top layer on, frost and decorate it. Using the pan makes the cake easy to carry around.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        That's what I do too. For a recent (big) birthday party, I made two 9x13 lemon cakes and filled them with lemon curd. Yum.

                      2. Not sure if you have baked it already, but last week I baked a Chocolate stout cake. It makes a lot of cake. I halved the recipe and baked it in a bundt pan (I think it's plenty of cake for 12, but not if you want leftovers or want to save a piece of cake for ___).

                        The cake is draped with ganache. I imagine you can bake the whole recipe, half of the batter for bundt, the rest for a sheet cake or cupcakes. it is pretty easy to make too...


                        1. Thanks again everyone for the recommendations. The cake is done. I made a 10" springform and a dozen cupcakes. I think that next time I'll know to search for a firmer cake. This one is super-moist -- but maybe TOO moist. My cupcakes did not dome at all, but rather spread so they formed one mass on top. A mess to get out. (This is why there's frosting, I guess.) Did I do something wrong? And the big cake was so soft I just didn't want to risk cutting it (even chilling first). So, I just frosted the top & sides with a buttercream I found on epi. I should've waited though, to frost it. What's the best way to hold a buttercream frosted cake???? I live in the Bay Area, so I can keep it cool room temp. Or should it go in the fridge? Next time, I think I'll look for a firmer cake. Thanks!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: jessinEC

                            What recipe did you use for the cake?

                            As the buttercream goes, it depends on what type it is on whether I refrigerate. In theory, an oil based cake can be refrigerated but a butter based one will get firm. Personally, I like a dense cake so don't mind a refrigerated butter cake. If that's a problem, you can remove it from the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving but remove the lid to make sure it doesn't sweat.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I used the epi recipe for the cake (oil), so I will put it in the fridge. Thanks.

                              1. re: jessinEC

                                Hmm. Strange. I've never had a problem with firmness before, and I've used both oil and melted butter. I wonder what went wrong.

                                1. re: jessinEC

                                  Like BananaBirkLarsen, I never had problems w/ firmness for that cake either. And, I made a tall triple layer one that stayed upright. Hope refrigerating it helps but if it doesn't, a scooped cake still tastes great.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Same as chowser, never any problem with that recipe's firmness, even when it was 3 layers. I have the 2-layer version in the fridge now because the filling is a bavarian and needs to be kept cold.

                                    I do find that this cake taste different when it's cold as opposed to room temperature. It seems more moist to me when it's cold but I love it both ways. If I have the time, I let it come to room temperature before serving.

                            2. This is intensely chocolate flavored and really delicious. Ignore that it says 8 servings. It will certainly serve 12 and may serve 15 if they're small (but rich) servings.


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: rainey

                                The funny thing is this is essentially the same recipe as the eip double chocolate layer cake above, only 2/3rds the amount, and the epi cake has chopped chocolate added in. Both are excellent, the epi cake a little more intense chocolate.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I have heard that she lifted this recipe from an old Hersey's recipe. Shame on her but it's delicious by any name (and this is the version I know how to google and link to). The family scarped it up and I even managed to ship one (frozen in individually vacuum packed layers with the frozen buttercream in a plastic tub) to great reviews.

                                  I added an extra 1/4 cup of really dark cocoa powder to the icing to get an appearance I liked much better.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    It's the black magic cake (I've obviously made far too many simple chocolate cakes...). But, it's been debated on which came first, Beatty's or Hershey's. Either way, it's a good cake.:-) Good idea on the dark cocoa powder. It's such a dark cake to begin with so it probably compliments it well.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Yes. I really think with the cake's dense, moist chocolately flavor that a dark icing is a better match. There's just a whimpiness to the icing in the FN pic that needed a boost.