Happy Birthday, Mum! [One Bowl Chocolate Cake]

If it’s true that daughters turn into their mothers, I think I’m OK with that.  I admire my mum a ton. As far as mums & daughters go, I think we get along pretty darn well. And I’m really glad we do, I know I’m a lucky kid! She embarrasses me every once and a while, but isn’t that kind of the point of being a parent? (Ha! Shows what I know about parenting! And more likely, I embarrass her right back…)

“Octopus Arms”

When it comes to working in the kitchen, we couldn’t be more different.  My mum is the type of person who cleans up as they go along, so by the time her recipe is done the kitchen is as clean as it was when she started.  If I’m baking, there’s usually a fine layer of flour that’s settled over the kitchen and the task of cleaning up after myself can often seem daunting. (As my mum points out, if I just cleaned up as I went, this wouldn’t happen…)

My mum’s birthday was actually a little over a month ago now and I totally meant to post this for the occasion — it’s the thought that counts, right? I’d talk about blaming my disorganization, but I feel like I do that often here…
Anyway, whether you fall into the same category as my mum of domestic & organized goddess, or mine, of scrappy kitchen forager, this cake is a winner.

Happy Belated Birthday, Mummy! — mama circa 1987

With the help of my mum, this cake was the first I ever made.  Incidentally, I made it for my mum’s birthday several years ago and it actually didn’t turn out so well: my brother and I forgot to grease the pan, so we just served the cake in the pan.  We wanted to refrigerate it once we had iced it (with really, really thick chocolate ganache) so we put some (unlit) candles in it and popped it into the refrigerator until dessert…when it came time to serve it the ganache had become so hard it was impossible to cut the cake (or get it out of the pan), and the candles were pretty much cemented in there. …it still tasted really good, though!
Since then, I’ve used this recipe so often I think I have it down to 10 minutes of prep time — pretty handy for a dessert that can actually look pretty fancy if you don’t bring robots into the equation (not that there’s anything wrong with them!).

This is the cake that comes up in my house for practically every birthday or occasion — just because it’s so easy to make doesn’t mean it isn’t decadent! Rich, moist, and intensely chocolatey, this cake is the bomb…I got it from my mama! 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

In a large bowl (or stand mixer):
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (use good quality cocoa, it will make a difference!)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, just use milk and add 1/2 tsp of lemon juice)
1 tsp vanilla

Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Pour batter into two greased 8-inch cake pans (square or round) — this will make a two layer cake.  Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.  For cupcakes bake for 18-22 minutes.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!

I ran out of whipping cream, so I thought I’d just try whipping table cream. The internet told me it wouldn’t work, but I thought I could do it…nope! It looks better with whipped cream than in a puddle of chocolate table cream, eh? Learn from my mistakes, friends!


  1. Hi Katie! what a nice tribute to your mom! Thanks for the recipe – Alex and I made cupcakes this afternoon and I’m not sure who was more excited! Enjoy the rest of the summer!

    • Hi Dana! Thank you! My parents deserve lots of credit for turning me into such a foodie. Hope you and Alex enjoy your cupcakes and the rest of your summer, too :)

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