I bring this this cake recipe to you straight from the slums of Shaolin.
No Wu Tang fans here?
Okay, then straight from my cozy kitchen!
If you’re anything like me then you probably spend an enormous amount of time perusing Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram for cake recipes and decorating ideas. There is a ton of content out there from bakers all over the world, but right now the shining stars of everything cake and cake decorating seems to be coming out of Australia. I will do a post on some of my favorite Australian bakers/decorators in the future (There are so many!) but for now I want to talk about their pride and joy: mud cake.
I am a born and bred American, which means that most of the cakes I’ve consumed over my lifetime have been made from a box mix or purchased pre-made from a grocery store. These cakes are usually light as air and melt in your mouth. When you bake one (and do it right) there is usually no crust or caramelization around the edges; it is just a soft, fluffy, cloud-like cake.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start baking your own cakes from scratch is that it seems impossible to replicate that airiness that we’re all used to. It’s the reason why, when people are looking into making wedding cakes, they’ll usually take a white cake box mix and jazz it up with some added egg whites and almond extract. Americans love the texture of box cakes–and I am no exception.
I was completely turned off when I first saw mud cakes on Youtube. They looked so dense! In almost every video and picture the cake either looked like a dry bread or an under-baked brick of fudge. The outsides looked as though they had crusted over. In a lot of videos (especially for white chocolate mud cakes) the decorator would actually use a serrated knife and cut off all of the crust. I didn’t really see the point. I mean, yeah, the cakes looked easy to carve and work with (great for if you need specific shapes) but I didn’t think I was willing to compromise taste and texture for it.
Boy was I wrong…
Mud cakes are not only extremely moist, but they are PACKED with flavor. This is most likely due to adding melted chocolate to the batter instead of the traditional cocoa powder. Sure, there are other cake recipes that use melted chocolate, but this one also uses a combination of butter and oil to keep it moist and tasting homemade.
I’ve learned that after making mud cakes you should wrap them in plastic wrap and leave them on your counter for 2-3 days for the flavors to develop even further. They can also be frozen for months in advance, which is a plus!
If I had to describe the taste and texture of this recipe, it’s like a rich, decadent brownie…but moister and more cake-like. It has a fine crumb and will definitely need to be crumb coated prior to decorating. I made a naked cake out of mine, but you could just as easily carve it, frost it, cover it in fondant; anything you’d like. It’s very sturdy without being dry or brittle. Really just a great all-around cake recipe.
Did I mention the best part? You don’t even need a stand mixer. You can make this using two bowls and a wooden spoon or spatula.
Should I just get to the recipe? Ok!
- 2 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter (about 18 tablespoons)
- 1 1/4 c of dark chocolate
- 4 tsp of instant coffee
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 3/4 c of water or brewed coffee
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 1/3 c of all purpose flour
- 1/2 c of good quality cocoa powder
- 2 c granulated sugar
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 1/2 c of buttermilk (or just regular milk that you've added a dash of lemon juice or vodka to and let sit for 15 minutes)
- Preheat your oven to 320º F and grease/line your baking tins. I hate it when people aren't specific here. I sprayed my tins with cooking spray and then lined the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt together your butter, water (or coffee), instant coffee granules, and cinnamon. Once it's all liquid and the mixture starts bubbling, remove it from the heat and stir in your chocolate until melted.
- Sift together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.Make a well in the center and add your eggs, oil, and buttermilk. Use a wooden spoon to slightly combine them. Then add the chocolate/butter mixture a little bit at a time stirring between each addition. Don't add it all at once or you could inadvertently cook your eggs!
- Divide the batter into three six-inch cake pans (or two eight-inch or nine-inch pans) and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. My six-inch cakes took 1 hour, but I would start checking around 45 minutes.
You’ll know your cakes are done when your whole entire house is perfumed with the sweet aroma of mocha chocolate and cinnamon and you can stick a knife or toothpick in the center of the cake and have it come out clean. Expect the cakes to sink in a little once removed from the oven, but don’t fret! They will still be amazing. Allow to cool completely and then wrap them in plastic wrap to store on your counter (if using within the next few days) or in the freezer (for longer storage).
If you try this cake, please let me know how it turns out and what you end up filling it with! I will have a post with my creation very soon.