This is my absolute number-one favorite chocolate cake. Hands down. And I say that as someone who usually thinks chocolate cake is a waste of chocolate. Oh, it’s tasty, no doubt, but between the flour and the butter and the sugar and the eggs, it’s often hard to taste the chocolate at all.
This cake is different. It’s a sour cream cake, the softest and plushest kind of cake there is. That means it can support a heaping helping of cocoa powder–amounts that would dry out a lesser cake. (I’ve actually increased the amount of cocoa in this cake since I started making it, and if anything I think the texture is better.) It’s also a hot water cake, which makes the texture even moister and helps draw out flavor, coffee-like, from the cocoa. And instead of a sickly-sweet buttercream frosting, it’s covered with dark chocolate ganache. What’s not to love?
In fact, this cake is so soft that I’ve had trouble with it falling apart if I take it out of the pan too soon. Most bundt cake recipes say you should cool the cake in the pan for exactly 10 minutes–no more, no less–before turning them out. When I do that, the cake slumps into a pile of delicious crumbs. I’ve found it’s best to wait a bit longer, until the sides of the cake pan are warm but not hot to the touch. That’s my cue that the cake has cooled enough to hold together, but not enough to cement itself to the pan.
When my family makes this cake, we use a standard-sized bundt pan and a demure drizzle of ganache over the top. The cake in the picture below was for a friend’s 30th birthday party, so I scaled up the recipe to fill my giant bundt pan and shellacked the entire surface with ganache. Honestly, do as you please–I’ve never seen someone turn up their nose at this cake.
Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake (makes one bundt cake)
Note: This recipe is scaled for a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan. If you have a 15-cup pan and want to make a giant cake, multiply the ingredient amounts by one and a half (the baking time will be about the same).
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/2 cup (40 g) natural (unsweetened) cocoa powder
1 tsp (6 g) salt
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp (9 g) baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, Greek yogurt, or buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the ganache:
4 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
Scant 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350º F, and position a rack in the middle. Grease and flour a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, water, cocoa powder, and salt. Warm the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the butter is melted and everything is fully combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add the butter-and-cocoa liquid in two or three batches, mixing until the last addition is incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by sour cream or yogurt and vanilla extract.
Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to even out the batter and get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer the bundt pan to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, until the sides of the pan are warm but not hot to the touch. Turn the cake out onto the rack and let it cool completely.
When you’re ready to glaze the cake, chop or break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it steams (you can do this in a pan on the stovetop, or in the microwave on high in 30-second bursts). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, let stand for about a minute, then whisk until smooth. The ganache should be pourable but not runny; if needed, let it stand at room temperature for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
Drizzle the ganache over the completely cooled cake. Serve immediately, or let the cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the ganache set.
Leftovers: Leftover cake will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature overnight or in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also wrap slices of cake in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 2 months.