Super Rich Old-fashioned Chocolate Birthday Cake

I like to decorate this cake very simply, it is a classic, moist chocolate cake, and  doesn't need much added.
For me, birthday cakes should be somewhat simple, homey, vernacular if you will. I prefer a sheet cake over a round layer cake and love recipes that produce a moist, heavy chocolate crumb. This recipe is a variation of a Hershey cocoa recipe, and I usually make it with chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake, but this would be good with any kind of topping you like. The end of the recipe here gives you a lot of options for size and shapes of pans. I wanted to make this in my Bundt pan, but it was a little on the small size.

A few things to note, the batter gets a final addition of boiling water, which makes a very runny mixture, and seems wrong. But the recipe calls for baking powder, which, in its standard form, is dual acting, meaning it starts to react under two influences, moisture and heat. I think the boiling water not only adds moisture but kick starts the leavening action, making this a very tender cake.

And this gives me a chance to share a great tip: I found I was out of baking powder, so I made some, very easy to do, mix 1/3 cream of tartar to 2/3 baking soda. So here, in addition to the baking soda needed, I replaced the baking powder with 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar and 1 tsp. more of baking soda.

Super Rich Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa (I use Special Dark Cocoa)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

Alternate milk and powdered sugar to the melted butter/cocoa mixture.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in Vanilla.
Recipe can be made with a thick spreadable frosting or . . . 

a more pourable frosting, with more milk added.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed, or if you like a thinner, more pourable frosting. About 2 cups frosting.
The frosting spreads very easily and will set up a bit as the melted butter re-sets after  mixing.
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.