For the absolutely luscious cake:
- 1-1/2 C (190 g) flour
- 1-1/2 C (300 g) sugar
- 1/2 C (60 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 g) baking soda
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 g) baking powder
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 g) cornstarch
- 1 tsp (8 g) salt
- 2/3 C (160 ml) buttermilk
- 1/2 C (120 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
- 1/3 C + 1 Tbsp (95 ml) coconut oil (melted)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C)
Oil two 8-inch baking pans with coconut oil.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. It will still look moist outside, don’t let it dry out.
If you want to make a natural fluffy cream layer rather than cool whip:
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 1 ½ Tbsp cold water
- 1 ½ C heavy whipping cream cold
- ½ C (65g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Add the gelatin to a microwave safe dish and add cold water. Whisk until the gelatin is smoothly combined with the water and set aside. The gelatin is the fussiest part of this whole (otherwise very simple) recipe. Make sure to follow my notes and you shouldn’t have any issue, though!
In a separate bowl, combine cold heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. For best results, use a chilled metal bowl and chill your beaters, too! The colder everything is the better your results will be. Beat the ingredients with an electric mixer and stop once the cream has begun to thicken, but just before reaching soft peaks.
By now, your gelatin/water mixture should have solidified. Heat it briefly in the microwave just until it’s re-melted and briefly mix it with a whisk (you don’t want it to be very hot, but the gelatin mixture should be 100% liquid and totally smooth or you could end up with a frosting that stays runny or have lumps in your frosting). This usually only takes 5-10 seconds in the microwave. Turn your electric mixer to low-speed and, while beating the cream mixture, slowly whisk in the gelatin.
Gradually increase the speed on your electric mixer until your whipped cream is fluffy with stiff peaks. It should look like Cool Whip, thick and fluffy!
It may seem counter-intuitive at first to liquify the gelatin and allow it to set up only to re-liquify it again by melting, but it’s important! This is a process known as “blooming” the gelatin, which ensures that the end result is not only smooth (rather than grainy or lumpy) but also that it stabilizes properly.