Baked Sunday Mornings: Quick Skillet Snack Cake

I have never baked anything in a skillet before. I have to admit that I have an irrational fear of cast iron skillets; I am a bit of a clean freak in the kitchen and the fact that skillets have a built up layer of grease seasoning that you can't wash off with soap kind of grosses me out. We have a Lodge cast iron skillet that my husband Tom uses all the time for cooking, and I never touch it. I even make Tom wash it himself (in our house, Tom cooks and I do dishes), because I'm afraid of ruining it. But I set my cast iron anxieties aside for this week's Baked Sunday Mornings assignment: the "Quick Skillet Snack Cake."

There were a lot of things about this recipe that surprised me.  I wasn't expecting that a "Skillet Snack Cake" would be chocolate cake with chocolate frosting; when I think of cake baked in a skillet, I think of cornbread. I was surprised that this cake required a mixer because I was thinking that a "quick" cake in a skillet would probably be rustic and mixed together with a wooden spoon. And I was most surprised that the recipe has you line the bottom of the skillet with parchment paper, because that would seem to negate many of the benefits of using a skillet in the first place.

Anyway, to make this cake, you cream together butter and shortening, and then add sugar, dark brown sugar, and vanilla, and beat until fluffy. After adding eggs, you add stream in a cooled mixture of cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and espresso powder that have been dissolved/melted in hot water. Finally, you add in dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) alternately with buttermilk. You pour the batter into a skillet that has been lined with parchment paper, buttered, and floured, and bake.

The cake rose quite a bit in the oven, forming a nice even dome. After it had fully cooled, I topped it with a frosting made from butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and melted dark chocolate. Just for kicks, I added some chocolate sprinkles. Because the cake flared out at the sides and was domed on top, the frosted cake had the appearance of being a giant, squat, cupcake.

The cake cut remarkably clean, creating virtually no crumbs. It had a tight crumb and springy texture, and a smooth, light, chocolate flavor. I personally thought the frosting was a little sweet, but it did go well with the cake. Even though the recipe says that the cast iron will result in "more crispy" sides of the cake, the texture of the outer crust was unremarkable.

This is a very good chocolate cake. It does not have the deep chocolate flavor and delicate melt-in-your-mouth texture of the Baked "Classic Chocolate Cake" that is part of the chocolate coffee cake with dark chocolate ganache and grasshopper cake. It also does not have the supermoist and decadent character of the Los Angeles Times' "One-in-a-Hundred Fudge CakeBut I'm completely satisfied with the way this cake turned out. My giant chocolate cupcake was fun, moist, and tasty, and I can't complain about that!

Recipe: "Quick Skillet Snack Cake" from Baked Sunday Mornings: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  Recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Susan said…
I love that you put a design in your frosting! I thought about adding some sprinkles, too. I hear you about the cast iron skillet - I am exactly the same way - I never touch it, either! LOL!
Chelly said…
Looks so pretty! Great job with the frosting!
I just love how the top of you cupcake looks!! Beautiful. And I agree it does look like a giant squat cupcake. We loved it.
Richard said…
Skillets are great for "rustic" looking pies. I use this recipe for my apple pies. People love it:

Here are some cute mini-pies, in tiny skillets:
@Richard -- Hi! I have never seen a pie in a skillet, but that's a great idea -- I'm sure it creates a wonderful crust! We recently went to Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon, and they serve their desserts in little individual cast iron serving pieces... adorable!