It has been awhile since I designed and created a wedding cake. When my sweet little punks were less mobile I spent many weekends building massive edible sculptures that were destined to be destroyed and enjoyed.

Some were covered in chocolate with torched meringue flames. Others were teal and intricately decorated with chocolate damask. Many were as simple as a luscious covering of Italian buttercream speckled with vanilla bean and fresh flowers.


This past weekend I emerged from my wedding cake retirement and created a four-tiered cake for a very dear friend. The wedding was flowerless with a winter woodsy theme.

The bride is the embodiment of grace and femininity. The groom is a hunter – more comfortable in camoflauge than a tux. For her there was gold and ruby red cranberries. For him there were antlers and pheasant feathers. Together they created a wedding that was stunningly beautiful and deeply meaningful.

I covered the layers in white fondant then hand painted the tiers. I wrapped the base of each cake with brown satin ribbon and gold pearls. The branches bordering the cakes are covered in chocolate and dusted with edible bronze. The top tier was adorned with pheasant feathers, cranberries and gold antlers sculpted from gumpaste.


On the inside a deep, dark chocolate cake and layers of tangy cream cheese frosting. I can not believe I haven’t shared the recipe for this cake here before. It’s a shame really. After all this time I have been holding out. Well, no longer my friends.

After you read this post you can have a cake in the oven in five minutes. Hurry. I’ll time you.

Dump and Stir Chocolate cake

adapted from “In the Sweet Kitchen” by Regan Daley

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tbl. canola oil

1 tbl. white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 packet Starbuck’s Via Instant coffee or 2 tsp instant coffee

1 cup cool water

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda in an 8×8 (or 9×9 – reduce baking time by 5-7 minutes) pan. Add the remaining ingredients then stir to combine.

Place the pan into a pre-heated 350* oven for 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Frost with your favorite chocolate, vanilla or cream cheese frosting.


Photos by Gabriel Boone Photography


43 Responses to “Simple Chocolate Cake”

  1. heidileon

    your friends sounds like an interesting couple; but you and your hubbie are a perfect combination: wonderful chef & extraordinaire photographer? (oh, and you also make so cute babies) couldn’t you guys be more perfect? (please say no)… 😀

    now seriously, I have a (probably) stupid question. what’s the purpose of the vinegar in this recipe?.


  2. Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.

    Simple? I see no “simple” in this Chocolate Cake. Amazingly beautiful! And, I would love to try the recipe, but not building a multi-layer cake :). I fear the day my son will ask for a designed cake… I have no skills, no patience…

  3. Donna

    it’s beautiful! and thank you for sharing the recipe, I always shy away from baking cake from scratch (I buy the mix) but I may give this one a try. It’s my husbands birthday this weekend and this cake sounds delicious!

  4. Phoo-D

    Absolutely incredible. You knocked it out of the park Ashley! I must say I never thought that antlers could look elegant on a cake, but you managed to pull it off!

  5. Mary Gene Atwood

    Ahhhh…so lovely and your writing makes it even more special! You’ll be happy to know that it is safely in the freezer, with several layers of cling wrap, then heavy duty foil, and finally I put it in a zip lock bag for extra protection. HOpefully it will be safe and delicious in one year. You ARE amazing!

  6. Jen

    Wow… I am so impressed. The cake is lovely and so personal to the couple. I have a feeling you’re going to get a few (or a flood) more requests for wedding cakes after this one.

  7. tara

    You’ve brought together their two personalities seamlessly; it is elegant and rustic but subtle and altogether lovely. Even the cake stand is perfect.

  8. S

    Oh my goodness, that is an incredible-looking cake! Good thing the cake recipe itself is “simple,” because that decorating looks like it would have taken a really long time. Great job!

  9. victoria

    Hello lovely Ashley. I was considering making this cake for my daughter’s birthday today but was stumped when I saw it has no eggs in it …. is that right?

  10. Olga

    This looks tasty! These are absolutely mouth watering! It will quickly disappear in our house, very tasty and flavorful!


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