3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1 cup + 2 Tbsp canola oil
5 large or 4 extra large/jumbo eggs
¾ cup water
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar
¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli's.)
flavoring liquid (water, vanilla, rum, cognac, kirsch, or amaretto)
1 ½ cup butter - firm, not cold, not too soft
2 pints ripe strawberries, hulled, and sliced in ½ if large
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and cocoa.
- Add 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water and 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Mix for 1 minute.
- Add eggs, ¾ cup of water, and vanilla. Mix 5-6 minutes with a whisk, 3-4 minutes with a hand mixer, or 2 minutes with a KitchenAid mixer.
- Pour equally into three 8" cake pans (extra can be used for cupcakes), bake at 350°F for 25-35 minutes (adjust for convection); test by placing and removing a toothpick through the center. Let cakes cool completely on wire racks.
(This part is done to taste.)
- Put powdered sugar and ¾ cup cocoa into the bowl of a mixer. Mix with whisk attachment until blended.
- Drizzle in (while using the paddle attachment), until about the consistency of firm butter, several tablespoons of flavoring liquid (water if you aren't looking for flavor beyond the cocoa and butter). Do not put in too much liquid, but if you do, add cocoa or sugar. Taste. When the flavor and consistency are right,
- add 1 ½ cups of butter (firm, not cold and not too soft). A good rule of thumb is that both the butter and the sugar mixture should be slightly firmer than you would want it to be to spread it, since the mixing action will warm it slightly. Mix until blended.
(Set aside several strawberries for decorating if you're frosting the cake.)
- Puree half of the strawberries in a blender or food processor with the honey, maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla until it is a smooth sauce.
- Add remaining strawberries and pulse until chopped but not liquified.
When layering the cake and filling, apply a thin layer of frosting on the cake layers that will touch the filling to keep them from becoming soggy. Also, pipe frosting around the edge of the layers with filling to keep the filling from dripping down the sides of the cake and making it difficult to finish frosting the cake.
I discussed this recipe here.