Luscious, moist & deep chocolate with a hint of coffee, dark chocolate spelt cake with mocha ganache will be the star of your next party!
Ready for some cake? It’s been awhile since I published a cake recipe (probably a reflection of the fact that cake remains a special occasion treat for us, which is for the best, I think you’d agree) and I thought it was about time to add another.
Especially in light of the fact that World Baking Day is coming up (whaaaat, you didn’t know that?) and baking + cake = a good thing, right? So of course I had to play along.
Huh? Spelt flour in a cake? Yep. I’ve baked a lot with spelt flour in the past and found that the sprouted spelt flour worked just as well in this cake – in fact the texture of the sprouted flour may help create the denser, moist crumb I prefer in cakes.
This cake can easily be made with other whole grain flours, though – I’ve made it with whole wheat pastry flour many times. I think oat flour would provide the same consistency, too, and make this gluten free. Since spelt is an ancient wheat cousin with less gluten than modern wheat, so some people with gluten sensitivities can eat spelt.
After some comments from readers who took our blog survey, I’m adding more shots of making the cake and ganache – including my favorite ganache tip – to help you have success in recreating this recipe (in other words, get ready to scroll!).
Dark Chocolate Spelt Cake with Mocha Ganache
In order to easily remove the cake from the pan, you’ll need to butter it, then cut a circle out of waxed paper, smooth it on the bottom of the buttered pan and then butter the paper.
As if that weren’t enough, dust the pan all over with cocoa. Just do it – trust me. All you need is one time spent making a cake (which are almost always for a party around here) that won’t loosen from the pan and breaks apart to realize the few minutes spent doing this prep work are worth it.
This recipe is not quite dump-and-go, but it’s easy – really. All your dry ingredients get mixed in a medium bowl, the butter and sugar is creamed until ‘fluffy’ (wonder just what that looks like? – there you go!), and then the dry ingredients are added in two batches with yogurt in-between. See? Not a cake mix, but really do-able.
The thing you’ll notice right away is that the batter is thick. It will need scraping out of the mixer bowl and then spread into the cake pan, almost like a brownie batter.
One tip I use with thick batters like this is to spread it a little thicker on the outside and thinner in the middle – I’ve found it helps the edges to cook more evenly with the center.
And look how it just comes out easily from the pan? Worth it. (Oh, another tip – just leave the cake inverted on the cooling rack – you will be frosting the bottom since it’s flatter than the “top.”)
Making ganache is super easy, the only key is to not let the cream come to a full, rolling boil, since that tends to curdle it. Heat the coffee and cream (I think almond milk may work just as well for those avoiding dairy) just until bubbles start to form along the edges of the saucepan and then pour it over the chocolate.
At first it will seem like it’s not going to blend together, but keep whisking and it will.
You’ll then want to wait for a bit for the ganache to thicken slightly so it will pour more evenly over the cake (vs. just running off the top and sides…).
When you see the chocolate create a little pool on the surface when poured from a spoon that stays a bit before being absorbed, that’s good enough (I’m trying to describe what the bottom picture is showing, and doing a terrible job of it I think, hopefully you get what I mean!).
Pouring a ganache frosting is seriously fun- it’s like, bam, you’ve got a beautiful cake in a matter of minutes! The one important tip (trick, must-do, whatever) is that you need to tear little pieces of waxed paper to cover all around the bottom of the cake, pushing each slightly under the cake and making sure they are overlapping (I just use the rest of the waxed paper from cutting the circle for the pan).
Then pour in the center, letting the ganache slowly flow over the sides. Use a spatula to gently push the ganache to cover evenly, but you don’t want to ‘frost’ like normal – too much fiddling with the ganache and it won’t have that shiny, smooth surface.
The bottom then looks awful and you’ll wonder how you’re going to make it look good – but the second most-fun thing about ganache is pulling the waxed papers away to reveal a perfectly even bottom. YESSSS. Seriously get a bit giddy about stuff like this!
You could leave the cake plain and no one will complain, I’m sure. But it’s easy to add a few chocolate shavings.
Simply run a vegetable peeler along the edge of a chocolate bar. All we had was a Trader Joe’s 72% chocolate bar that was already broken into it’s little pieces, so my shavings are smaller. The bigger the bar, the bigger the shavings.
But it doesn’t really matter – just shave whatever you have and then press them to the bottom sides of the cake, adding a few for the center, too, if you want.
Dark Chocolate Spelt Cake with Mocha Ganache
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus more to dust pan
- 3/4 cup spelt flour*
- 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder**
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup softened butter plus more for pan
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) about 1 cup
- 2 tablespoons strong coffee
- 1/3 cup heavy cream***
- optional: chocolate shavings for decoration
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch pan, line the bottom with a circle of waxed paper, cut to fit, and butter the paper. Dust the entire pan with cocoa powder and set aside.
- Mix cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to break up any lumps.
- In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time and then beat in the vanilla, scraping sides as needed and mixing until smooth. Add half of the cocoa-flour mixture and stir on low, then all the yogurt, mixing well, then the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until all is combined (it will be thick).
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan, building up the sides just a bit more than the center (to help it cook evenly).
- Place in oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a bit on it (if it's totally clean, the cake will probably be more dry). Cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack, bottom side up. Cool completely.
- Place chocolate in a medium glass or ceramic bowl (tip: using a large glass measuring cup with a handle will allow you to pour it more easily over the cake)
- In a small saucepan, heat coffee and cream to a low simmer- just until bubbles start to appear around the edges.
- Pour the hot cream-coffee over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool a bit to thicken (usually about 10 minutes).
- Prep the cake for the ganache by placing it on a serving or cake plate, tearing pieces of waxed paper and layering them all around the bottom of the cake, pushing them slightly under the bottom edge of the cake (you want the ganache to pool on the paper and not go underneath).
- When the ganache is ready, pour it over the cake, holding the bowl of ganache in the center and letting it flow over the sides. Use a spatula to gently help push it evenly, but don't go too much over the ganache in order to keep it shiny and smooth (tip: if too much pools on the sides, it was probably not thick enough - go ahead and spoon it back into the center, but don't spread - just let it absorb back in and it should smooth out),
- Remove the pieces of waxed paper to reveal the perfectly even edge (yes!).
- Decorate edges with chocolate shavings, if desired (chopped nuts are good, too).