Thinking about baking? A few key pantry ingredients will prepare anyone to bake at the drop of a hat. Bakers and dessert enthusiasts alike know that baking requires no special season – from springtime to the holidays there’s always room for a sweet indulgence – and it’s important to be prepared to bake up a special treat. Every baker, novice or experienced, should keep a few ingredients on hand:
- Flour – A classic ingredient is the foundation for baking and will work in most baking recipes – all-purpose is the best to have on hand.
- Sugar – Baking requires a fine, light sugar that will quickly dissolve when used. Make sure the white sugar is labeled for baking. Light and dark brown sugars add a deeper flavor to recipes with a hint of molasses. Light brown sugar is more commonly used in baking recipes – keep brown sugar fresh in a well sealed container.
- Baking powder and baking soda – Each ingredient is a leavener that is often called for in cakes and cookies.
- Salt – Again, baking requires a fine salt versus a kosher or high-quality sea salt. Fine salt allows it to dissolve and incorporate with the ingredients more easily. Even just a dash of salt makes a big difference in the taste of baked recipes.
- Vanilla extract – While there are many extract flavorings, vanilla is most commonly used in sweet baked goods. Avoid imitation vanilla extract as it has a flatter flavor than true vanilla extract, which is made from vanilla beans.
- Cocoa powder – Cocoa, such as Hershey’s Cocoa, is the ideal ingredient for bringing a rich chocolate flavor to desserts. Cocoa is used in a wide variety of recipes including hot cocoa, frostings, cakes, brownies and other rich chocolate desserts.
- Don’t forget to stock the refrigerator. Baking often requires eggs and milk.
Bakers rely on these ingredients to experiment with new flavors, but also to create tried-and-true recipes, like Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake. This classic, decadent and delicious dessert was recently crowned the “Most Iconic Hershey’s Cocoa” recipe in an online vote among 15 top recipes.
The homemade chocolate cake recipe first appeared in a 1971 cookbook. Later it was featured on the Hershey’s Cocoa can label in the 1970s and 1980s, appeared in a national ad in 1987 and has been printed in numerous recipe booklets and cookbooks in the past five decades. The online vote celebrated a rich heritage that dates back well over a century.
To see other contending recipes, as well as nearly 500 other cocoa recipes, visit www.hersheyskitchens.com.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
11/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candy (optional)
One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
Additional crushed hard peppermint candy (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl; beat on high speed of mixer for 3 minutes. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder; add alternately with water to butter mixture, beating until blended. Add candy, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
4. Frost with One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting. Just before serving, garnish with peppermint candy, if desired.
One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 2 cups frosting
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla.