A three-layer chocolate cake with subtle flavors from coffee, cinnamon, and paprika, perfect for any birthday or celebration.
We have this tradition that I make cakes for things. Between my family and some very good family friends, there are eight birthdays every year and for the past six or so years I have been making cakes for all those birthdays if I am around.
Actually, that’s not entirely true–I don’t think anyone should have to make their own birthday cake, so if I take myself out there are only seven birthdays.
While writing this post, I started wondering why birthday cake was a tradition. Lucky for me, Wikipedia has a whole section on the history of birthday cakes. Apparently, the modern birthday cake has its origins in fifteenth-century Germany, became more elaborate over time, and by the seventeenth century was basically the same as what we have today. Of course, only the upper classes could afford birthday cakes for a while, but this changed with the Industrial Revolution.
I’m certainly glad things like butter and sugar and chocolate became more widely available because cakes are probably some of my favorite things to bake. I do always get frustrated while frosting them but they always end up fine in the end, if not quite the works of art that I wish they were.
This chocolate cake has a rich chocolate flavor due to the coffee in the recipe. If you don’t like coffee, don’t worry–coffee just makes chocolate taste better, it doesn’t taste like coffee. For those sensitive to caffeine, decaf can be used. The paprika and cinnamon give this cake just a hint of a spicy kick but can be left out to appease picky eaters.
I frosted mine with a vanilla buttercream and used some leftover chocolate mousse as a decoration.
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 cup coffee (decaf or regular)
- 2/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 3 cups flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp paprika (not “hot” or “smoked”)
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 2 T vanilla
Combine milk and vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 9-inch round pans with parchment paper and grease them.
In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips with butter, oil, and coffee over medium heat. Remove from the stove when melted and stir until smooth.
In a large (very large!) bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and paprika. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and continue whisking until combined. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in baking soda, salt, vanilla, and the milk-vinegar mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting. You can use a serrated knife to even the tops if they aren’t as flat as you’d like.