It’s hard to even count how many different shapes and sizes Rosa’s Mud Cake has taken over the past three decades. That’s it up there, in a heart shape underneath frosting and an army of m&ms for Phoebe’s Valentine-themed birthday party a few years back. It was also the cake I used for Phoebe’s birthday “beach cake” and the dessert I made for my parents anniversary (one round pan, sprinkled with powdered sugar, surrounded by raspberries) and, of course, the cake I ate at my best friend’s birthday parties all through childhood. Her mother is the famous Rosa and she cooked the most amazing meals for her family from a collection of recipes she had jammed into in little wooden box on her kitchen counter. (How I dream of that box!) Even before I had kids, I knew enough to dig around for the mud cake card so I could copy down the instructions and continue her tradition. The secret to its moist muddiness is a cup of strong black coffee. (Don’t be scared by that, you’ll hardly taste any mocha action.) Is there any wonder the recipe has been enshrined on my recipe door?
Rosa’s Mud Cake
Makes 1 9×13 sheet cake or 2 9-inch layers.
1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup strong black coffee (brewed, not grinds!)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dump everything in a bowl, mix, pour into a sheet pan that has been buttered and lightly floured. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Glaze
More often than not, I make this cake without frosting. But here’s a glaze that takes about 10 minutes (most of it hands-off time) that is impossible to mess up. (Unlike most of the frostings I attempt.)
Dump a small bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 6 ounces) in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile heat 1 cup of heavy cream so it’s bubbling but not boiling. Pour over chocolate chips and let sit about 2 minutes without stirring. Whisk together and pour over cake that has been set over a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil or parchment.