Mud Cake, the decadent chocolate gift of the Aussies, has for some reason always given me a world of trouble! (I cannot tell you how many Mud Cakes I have had flop.) Even when they did turn out, the mega deep chocolate flavor I sought was not there. Here I have finally made peace with my cakey nemesis and the results will knock your socks off.
Let me explain why Mud Cake gave me such a hard time and let you in on the fixes that finally brought about our peace treaty.
Problem #1: Lack of internal structure. Mud Cake is essentially like a brownie with lots of water added. There are high concentrations of butter, chocolate and sugar (all structure weakeners) along with much water or coffee (a structure diluter) and very little flour (a structure builder). The flour profile often contains a mix of both all-purpose and self-rising flour. Self-rising flour contains little protein and further reduces the structural integrity of the cake. The result is a dense moist cake with little rise.
While that may sound appealing, it can easily go wrong. I have had my Mud Cakes separate into odd unsavory layers or crumble out of the pan in a disjointed mess.
Problem #2: Lack of flavor. While Mud Cake has always shown some promise to me. (Or just really ticked my off and challenged my baking skills). I knew it needed a flavor boost. Mud Cakes often boast large quantities of semisweet or dark chocolate but this cake needed something stronger if it was going to really meet my chocolate standards.
So at last I went head to head with my rival.
- Convert to all all-purpose flour and increase the volume by 1/2 cup. This bolsters the protein and starch to improve structure.
- Add baking soda to neutralize structure undermining acids in the form of coffee, chocolate and cocoa powder.
- Change the mixing method. Forget the gentle stirring together of dry ingredients and liquids; mix them together in a mixer and beat for a good minute and a half to develop structure proteins.
- Lose the wimpy semisweet chocolate and use at least 72% cacao dark chocolate for deep and complex flavor.
- Increase cocoa powder from 1/4 to 1/2 cup for rich, dark flavor.
- Add 1 tablespoon vanilla to balance and round out the taste.
The Result. This cake is packed with chocolate-yness. It is both intense and nuanced from the combination of dark chocolate and lots of rich cocoa. Be prepared with a tall, cold glass of milk when you sit down with a piece of this cake. The cake also maintains the luscious fudgy texture of a Mud Cake but is less dense and has much greater structure than its counterpart. (I turned these cakes out without sticking or tearing.)
So, goodbye to my arch enemy and hello to tall dark and handsome. This may no longer be a traditional Australian Mud Cake but I think this American Mud Cake is better than ever.
To compliment to intensity of this cake I frosted it in a dark Sour Cream Chocolate frosting. This icing is not too sweet and beautifully balances with the flavors in this cake.
Give this chocolate powerhouse a try and let me know what you think!
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, or 8 ounces, or 227 grams) each halved
- 7 ounces (198 grams) 72% cacao or more dark chocolate, chopped or broken coarsely (I used Ghiradelli Twilight Delight)
- 2 cups (14 ounces, or 397 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (2 ounces, or 57 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder (I recommend Cacao Barry Extra Brute or Pernigotti)
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) strong hot coffee or hot water plus 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups (10 ounces, or 284 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons (9 grams) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- ½ teaspoon (4 grams) salt
- ½ cup (4 ½ ounces, or 128 grams by weight) sour cream
- ½ cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (5 ¼ ounces by weight, or 150 grams) corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (12 ounces, or 3 sticks, or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 4 cups (16 ounces, or 454 grams) powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans* with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- In an 8-cup microwave safe container, melt butter and chocolate. Heat butter and chocolate for 1 minute followed with 30 second intervals, whisking until completely melted.
- Whisk in sugar and then cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Slowly add hot coffee in 3 increments whisking until smooth. Add vanilla and then the eggs one at a time.
- In a mixer bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix with the wire beater until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Once it is all added, beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and beat for 30 seconds more until smooth.
- Pour into cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester just comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely or wrap in plastic wrap until needed. Frost and fill with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting or other icing and filling. Enjoy! *This makes 2 thick layers that can be torted but could also be baked in 3 8-inch pans.
- Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds to aid dissolving of sugar. Stir in vanilla. Set aside
- In a mixer bowl beat butter with a paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in cocoa powder on low speed until smooth and creamy. With mixer on low gradually add in sour cream mixture; beat for 30 seconds to incorporate. Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and blended. Note: beating the mixture at a higher speed with result in a lighter, fluffier frosting.
- Use to frost and fill American Mud Cake or cake or cupcakes of your choice.