A while back, my friend HKL and I had a funny conversation on the phone about cakes and their texture. I was surveying my friends about their preference in cake texture and getting the wide range of opinions about what people thought made a good cake. What she said to me was this: "Why can't anyone bake a cake that tastes and feels like the one that comes from a box?"
It was a good question. We furthered our conversation where I reminded her that the ones from the box had hydrogenated oils and a bunch of other undesirable stuff so she should just get used to the texture of a cake that was made homemade.
However, in the back of my mind, that question always stuck with me. I tried very very hard to create cakes that were similar to the ones from the box, but they always fell a bit short in texture or in crumb. I just couldn't match it and so I resolved myself to the idea that it was all the "bad stuff" in a cake box that made the cake texture that way. I am not into bad stuff, so I just got used to the idea that I couldn't match it. No big deal.
I did however, discover some recipes where they added mayonnaise or oil to the batter to make the cake. The people behind the recipes boasted that these cakes created the best texture or the best crumb or were simply delicious. And I became intrigued, because I did know that a cake box recipes, often has you adding oil and eggs...much like these recipes were suggesting that I do. I decided that I would make one of these recipes and see what the end result would be.
Making a mixture of the dry ingredients and then mixing in the wet ingredients proved to be an experience extremely similar to that of making a cake from the box. There is no creaming of butter, no adding of the eggs one by one, no tricky finicky timing of beating the batter...it was almost as easy as making a cake from a box. I topped them with raspberry jam and finished them off with a dollop of chocolate ganache.
I made these for my church small group (my chosen group of guinea pigs for their wide range of taste buds and discerning palates) and it was met with rave reviews. My favorite critic took a bite and said, "This tastes and feels like a cake from a box." EXACTLY the response I wanted...well - maybe not. But you get the idea.
Although this does have the extra step of adding raspberry jam, the making of both the cake and the chocolate ganache is so easy that you don't lose much time with the additional step.
Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
(adapted from Bon Appetit | June 2010)
Makes 24 regular cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes (mini are pictured)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with liners.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl
Whisk to blend and form well in center. (This means make a hole in your mound of ingredients)
Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl or a large measuring cup to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.
Divide cake batter into cupcake liners.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 22-25 minutes regular cupcakes, 18 for mini cupcakes.