The Cake that Cures Everything from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl


Serves 20 to 25


  • 1-1/8 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)


  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups dark brown sugar
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs

The Cake that Cures Everything from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

In times of stress, only excess will do: this is an enormous cake. But it keeps very well. And there is no such thing as too much chocolate cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter two large rectangular baking pans (13x9x2) and line them with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with cocoa (you could use flour, but cocoa adds both color and flavor to your cake). Hold the pans over a sink and give them a gentle tap so the excess cocoa floats off.

Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in 1½ cups of boiling water until it is smooth, dark, and so glossy it reminds you of chocolate pudding. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and ¾ teaspoon salt.

Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the sugars until the mixture is light, fluffy, and the color of coffee with cream (it will take about 5 minutes). One at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds before adding the next. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour.

Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the pans rest on cooling racks for 2 minutes, then turn the cakes onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

Assemble the cake by spreading about a third of the frosting on one of the cooled layers, putting the second layer on top, and swirling the rest of the frosting over the top and sides.




  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 2½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ cups (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Let it cool so that you can comfortably put your finger in it. While it’s cooling, mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the chocolate, the vanilla, and a dash of salt, and mix in the confectioner’s sugar until it looks like frosting.


Excerpted from My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life. Copyright © 2015 Ruth Reichl. Photography Copyright © 2015 Mikkel Vang. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

My Kitchen Year
136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Written by Ruth Reichl;