The Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake, Canal Hosue Cook Something, Photography by Christopher Hirsheimer

Canal House’s Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer are home cooks writing about home cooking for other home cooks. From a lifetime of making dinner every single night, they’ve edited their experience down to the essentials: 300 simple recipes that reveal the building blocks of all good cooking guaranteed to make you a better cook.

Canal House Cook SomethingEach chapter of Cook Something helps you master a key ingredient or powerful technique, moving from simple (a perfect soft-boiled egg, and how to make it uncommonly delicious) to ambitious (a towering chocolate souffle). Recipes for salad dressings, sauces, braises, roasts, meatballs, vegetables, and even perfect snacks and sweets help novice and experienced cooks alike reach for the perfect dish for any occasion. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Poached salmon with lemon-butter sauce
  • Fettucine with ragu bolognese
  • Oven-braised chicken with gnocchi
  • Classic Italian meatballs
  • Caramelized apple galette
  • And so much more.

Filled with step-by-step photographs and indispensable kitchen wisdom, it is a perfect gift for beginners and an ideal reference for confident cooks.

Canal House: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On is available at and Indigo.

The Chocolate Cake

(Makes one 9-inch two-layer cake)

New York City’s Katherine Yang of Gigi Edibles, shared this recipe with us when we needed to make a very special chocolate wedding cake. She is the best baker we know and always generous with her knowledge to boot. We thank her with every bite of this cake, and you will too. It’s moist and chocolatey through and through. When it comes to baking, Katherine advises measuring the ingredients by weight rather than volume for the most consistent results. The frosting may be made ahead and kept in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature before spreading it on the cake.


Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (508 grams) superfine sugar and fluffy
1¼ cups (94 grams) extra-dark cocoa powder, sifted
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1-1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons (200 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ cups plus 4 teaspoons (182 grams) cake flour
2 teaspoons salt
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced
3-4 tablespoons apricot or other jam, optional


For the cake, preheat the oven to 325°F with rack set in the middle of the oven. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper round, spray again, and set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 5-8 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and beat until combined, 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.

Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the eggs, mixing until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Whisk together both flours, the salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl and add to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the batter is combined.

Combine the boiling water and the oil in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add it to the batter, mixing until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Transfer to the oven and bake until cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Transfer cakes to a rack to cool completely. Peel off and discard the parchment paper.

For the frosting, whisk together the sugar, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Add the chocolate and butter, and whisk constantly until melted and just about to boil. Strain into bowl and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until the frosting is just set but still spreadable.

To assemble, place one cake layer top-side down on a cardboard round (this makes it easier to slide the frosted cake onto a serving plate). Using an offset spatula, thinly spread the frosting on top. Spread the jam on top of the frosting, if using. Place the remaining cake layer top-side down on the bottom layer. Spread frosting on top, then frost the sides. Add more frosting in decorative swirls.

Excerpted from CANAL HOUSE Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.


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