This is a different sort of cake. Oh, it’s familiar in many ways: The same soft, not dry texture you want, a nice punch of chocolate, and a perfectly sweetened buttercream frosting to top it all off. You can make it in a 9 x 13 pan or two 9″ cake pans. But it’s also different.
You have to love nutmeg. I mean, you’ve gotta LOVE nutmeg, for this recipe to be a good choice for you. My oldest was sick and didn’t dig into this chocolate sheet cake until three days after I made it. He LOVES this cake. Like, raving about it hours later kind of love.
A Different Kind of Chocolate Cake Recipe
Buttermilk adds a nice “zing!” to baked goods. It’s a little wake-up call. Even though I can’t get full-fat buttermilk in my area and resort to the powdered stuff (it still works), buttermilk adds a nice touch. Then—there’s the nutmeg in this chocolate cake recipe.
At 1/4 of a teaspoon, you wouldn’t think it would make such a difference. What’s the big deal? But, that small, so small as to appear almost insignificant amount of nutmeg IS a big deal. Nutmeg is the all-star in this recipe. It is the top dog, the numero uno, and el capitan.
I found this recipe in The Perfect Cake (2002) by Susan G. Purdy, which is also the perfect name for a book about cake, right? I don’t want a cookbook of two excellent recipes and then a bunch of subpar gobbledygook. No one does. What kind of hilarious premise would that be? “Here’s my book with two of the most amazing recipes you’ve ever tried, but the rest are just meh.”
Good thing The Perfect Cake delivers. This cookbook fully lives up to its name—as long as you own the “right” edition.
The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy
The Perfect Cake is a revised, redone edition of a previous (and much older) title, A Piece of Cake. The changes begin at the cover and extend throughout the book. Chapters no longer squash together all the recipes within them in the contents, so it’s much easier to read. The book moved from a two-column text design style to a much more legible one-column style. The tips, advanced preparation guide, and special equipment, all of those were revamped and given space so you can actually read them.
Chapters include: Introduction; Baking Equipment; Understanding Ingredients; How to Measure Ingredients; A Note About Recipe Measurements; Examples of Weight Measurements; Equivalents and Substitutions; Pan Volume and Serving Table; How to Prepare Pans for Baking; Before you Begin to Bake; Butter and/or Shortening Cakes: Layers and Sheet Cakes; Pounds Cakes; Fruitcakes; Upside-Down Cakes; Coffee Cakes, Tea Cakes, Kuchen, and Pudding Cakes; Cheesecakes; Sponge and Foam Cakes: Sponge Cakes; Jelly Rolls (Roulades); Angel-Food Cakes; Chiffon Cakes; Meringue Cakes and Dacquoises; Tortes; Elegant and Special Cakes: Fillings, Frostings, Icings, Glazes, Sauces, and Syrups: Fillings; Toppings; Frostings, Icings, and Glazes; Sauces and Syrups; Decorating Cakes: Special Effects, Flavorings, and decorative Techniques.
At 498 pages, with nice illustrations throughout, but zero images, you’ll find over 150 cake recipes for any day (or is that every day?) in this 6.97 x 1.07 x 9.13 inch cookbook. “This book is not intended to be the ultimate, complete international cake collection. Rather, it is a group of personal favorites, student-tested recipes, and selected classics, presented with the hope that you will try a few and discover that it’s a piece of cake to bake,” reads Susan’s introduction. It does just that. #missionaccomplished
Recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Nutmeg Cake
Chocolate and Nutmeg Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
For the Cake
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 SCANT teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg Do not use old nutmeg.
- 4 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate (1/2 cup)
- 1 Cup Butter Softened
- 1 3/4 Cups Sugar
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 1/3 Cups Buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (2 1/2 Cups)
- 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
- 1 Large Egg Yolk Optional
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 4 to 4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar Whisk first if the powdered sugar is lumpy.
- 5 or 6 Tablespoons Heavy Cream or Milk As needed to achieve preferred spreading consistency.
- 4 to 6 Ounces Melted and Cooled Milk or Semisweet Chocolate
- 325* oven. Put rack in the lower 1/3 of your oven.
- Grease your two 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13 x 1 1/2-inch sheet pan with Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking with Flour.
For the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
- Melt the chocolate with your favorite method (double boiler, microwave, or large bowl set over simmering water). Stir until smooth and set aside, stirring occasionally.
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl to best combine the ingredients.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Set the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Stir in vanilla extract and cooled chocolate, and blend until the color is even.
- Pour into pan(s), level, and then move some batter from the center to the edges for the best, most-even rise.
- Bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for 40-50 minutes for the sheet cake or 35-45 minutes for cake pans. Always set your timer for the low end of the range and check it for doneness. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. When you gently touch the middle, it will spring back slightly.
- Remove to cooling rack(s) for 10 minutes. Invert onto plate, if desired.
For the Chocolate Basic Quick Buttercream Frosting
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter until soft. Yes, you can use a hand mixer, but it won't get as fluffy as it could be.
- Beat in the egg yolk (if using, I didn't), salt, and vanilla extract.
- With the mixer set to "low," add in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat until smooth.
- Beat in melted and cooled chocolate.
- Alternately add in the cream and the rest of the sugar, blending it smooth as you go. Don't forget to scrape down the sides.
- Add more cream if your frosting is too stiff or chill to harden your frosting if it becomes too soft.
Cookbooks by Susan G. Purdy
Susan Gold Purdy is amazing. “In addition to her eight cookbooks, Susan is the author, co-author, and/or illustrator of 18 children’s craft and “how-to” art books, and five children’s holiday cookbooks,” says her website High Altitude Baking.com. That is a lot of books. Her cookbooks are wonderful and detailed. From the layouts to the tips to the recipes, they are books to be read and used.
Just so you know, some of the titles below are children’s cookbooks. These titles include: Christmas Cooking Around the World, Christmas Gifts Good Enough To Eat!, Jewish Holiday Cookbook, Halloween Cookbook, and Christmas Cookbook. I’ve included the links to those below too.