Chocolate Cayenne Pepper Cake

Whenever I want to bake a cake for an occasion, my mom tries to talk me out of it. She says, “You always spend so much time and effort making these cakes and no one appreciates it. Why bother? Just make something simple.” She has a point. People inhale cake; it’s gone in a matter of minutes. They often don’t stop to think that hours of work went into the cake.

Even so, the process of making the cake is fun for me. And I’m not going to get more efficient and skillful with it unless I practice making more cakes! So what I’m saying is…I made the cake, anyway.

The recipe for this cake can be found here. This is a blog that I discovered very recently and it looks like she’s got a lot more great cake recipes that I’m dying to try out. What I really liked about her recipe is that she didn’t use any butter in the cake batter, only the frosting. And not just because butter isn’t exactly the healthiest of ingredients (which it, admittedly, isn’t). But because I didn’t have to wait for hours for the butter to thaw! Seriously you guys, it’s a game changer. img_4205


For the cakes:

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil, like canola
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Pinch of salt

For the splatter “paint”:

  • Liquid food coloring

  • For each color: 1 tbsp water + 1/2 cup powdered sugar


To make the cakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, and cover lightly with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. img_4197
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the boiling water.
  5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and place in the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (should take about 30 minutes).
  6. Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove cakes from the pan and place onto a cooling rack.

To make the frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together all of the ingredients.

To make the splatter “paint”: For each color, mix together a few drops of food coloring with 1 tbsp liquid and half cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. img_4211

To assemble to the cake:

Place one layer of cake on a cake pedestal and slip pieces of parchment paper under the edge of the cake all around. This prevents any frosting from getting onto the pedestal when decorating and the paper can be removed before serving! Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the first layer and cover with the next layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Freeze the cake for about 10 minutes, to firm up the frosting. Use a spoon or fork to drizzle your splatter paint all over the cake.


Now when you make this cake, be warned that the batter is going to be very runny. I was not expecting that to be the case and was sure I had done something wrong. I read through the recipe again about 5 more times before I assured myself that I had, in fact, followed all the steps. So I crossed my fingers and poured (literally poured, it was very watery) the cake batter into my pans. Thankfully, it did not seep out the sides of my springform cake pan and I ended up with two very soft and moist cake layers. Success!

My decoration on this particular cake did not turn out exactly as planned…Molly’s recipe called for a half-cup (a half-cup!) of powdered sugar for each of the colors. I just couldn’t bring myself to add that much sugar. So the dye ended up being pretty runny (seems to be a theme with this cake) and kiiiinda looked like a mess. To be fair, I was going for a Jackson Pollock-esque effect so I guess it worked out.

And yes, it is lopsided. Evidently, I have not yet mastered the art of making sure the cake pan is level when it goes into the oven. I never did claim to be a professional.

Either way, the cake tasted great. It had the perfect amount of spice to shock the taste buds and balance out the chocolate-y richness. So all in all, I was very happy with the bake!