"Just" Chocolate Cake
"Just" Chocolate Cake

Sometimes you want a big fancy layer cake with ganache, frosting and all the other frills. Other times all you're longing for is the deep, rich flavor of dark chocolate with a tender crumb--you know, "just" pure and simple chocolate cake. This is for those times.

When I was a little girl my mom would take my sisters and I on all day shopping sprees in NYC a few times a year. We'd walk down Fifth Avenue, try on clothing that was way too expensive and go out for a fancy girls lunch. Our favorite place was Lord & Taylor's because they had the most amazing chocolate cake. It was fudgy without being dense and deeply chocolate with a wonderful almost chewy, bittersweet chocolate frosting--absolute perfection! For some reason, much to all of our dismay, they stopped serving it, and so over the years I've tried to recreate it at home because after all we need our L&T's chocolate cake fix every now and then, even without the shopping trips! This dark chocolate bundt cake sans icing is not exactly as good as the cake of my memory, but it's pretty darn close, which you should consider a rave!!

It's easy to make, the kind of cake you bake for no reason at all, except that you can and the kind of cake that if left on the kitchen counter, gets smaller and smaller with every pass by! Not that I would know anything about that, ahem!! It's all about the chocolate so use the best quality you can afford--it'll definitely be worth it! Now if I can just figure out how to recreate that magical bittersweet frosting...

"Just" Chocolate Cake

Makes 10-12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes; Bake Time: 40-45 minutes


  • Melted butter for greasing the pan

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus a bit more for dusting the pan and cake with

  • 3 ounces very dark chocolate, chopped, I used Lindt 85%

  • 3/4 cup boiling water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

  • 1 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

The Recipe

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Using a pastry brush, brush the inside of a large Bundt pan (10 cup) with the melted butter and dust it with the extra cocoa powder. Tap out any excess over the sink and set the pan aside.

2.  Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water on top of it. Whisk the mixture well, until the chocolate is all melted. Let cool to room temperature. 

3.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together well the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder and salt.

4.  Using an electric mixer (attach the whisk attachment if you are using the stand kind--otherwise the handheld kind is fine) mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and oil together on low speed until well combined. Keeping the mixer on low, gradually add the dry mixture until all of the dry mixture is moistened. Turn the speed up to medium-low and beat for another 3 minutes. 

5.  Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check early because all ovens differ and you don't want this to burn! Transfer the cake in the pan to a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then invert the cake onto the rack and let it finish cooling completely.

6.  Serve the cake as is or with a dusting of powdered sugar. The cake will keep well wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to one week.


Note:  Recipe adapted from Cake Simple by Christie Matheson.

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