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Help with modifying cake recipe

BakerGuy's picture

Help with modifying cake recipe

So I've got my mom's old "drunken cake" recipe which I'd like to make a little more healthy and I'm wondering what would be the limits... it's a basic chocolate cake really.

here's the recipe:

  • 200 gram butter
  • 1.5 cups sugar (or a bit less then)
  • 5 big heaped spoonfuls of cacao
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • Cognac
  • soluble coffee 1.5 teaspoon

Making chocolate mix:

Melt sugar (1 cup), butter and cacao powder in a pot until liquid,

let cool a little,

add 5 yolks (yellow of egg) one by one and mix well, add the vanilla extract.

save ¾ cup of mix for the frosting.

Making the base:.

Batter the egg whites, when they start to froth gradually add the sugar (half cup) and then fold the mix into the battered White eggs with the flour ( the baking powder sieved together with the flour) slowly and gently,

butter a pan and pour the mix, and into the oven at 1800 for around 20-30 minutes (wide rectangular pan, this is a flat cake)

Mix cognac and soluble coffee (1.5 teaspoon) and add into the ¾ frosting. (Find the balance between more cognac and taking care not to make the mix too liquid)


Frost as soon as cake comes out of oven and enjoy while you can. 



So, i'd like to maybe use whole wheat flour for example and reduce the sugar and fat content, also i'd like to use real coffee but that would make the mix too liquid...  i'm also thinking to use a little sourdough because why not... 

Should i replace some of the butter with coconut oil or olive oil? or a mix of both or all? How would that effect such a cake?

Should i throw in some Black Pepper for an extra zing?

Maybe incorporate some yogurt to hydrate the whole wheat flour?  how different do these kinds of cake feel when using whole grains? 

i do recognise that this recipe is perfect the way it is in the sense that it's heavenly chocolatey and alcoholic which is a very nice combination and the coffee gives it that something extra, so really it's just me wondering if all that butter sugar and white four is necessary, could it be just as good and a little less guilty pleasure and where could i take it without changing it's essence too much...

any thought's tricks and suggestions would be welcome!

yozzause's picture

It wont be like Mom made!

perhaps try changing one thing at a time

good luck with that

Sabina's picture

so I could help you out more, but even I can see that that is going to be a tough recipe to modify! None of the ingredients seem superfluous. And you're right about its being a bit on the unhealthy side. There's more sugar than flour! 

You'll want to wait until you get a reply from someone who actually knows what they're doing, but I want to look through the list of things you want to change.

1. Whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Normally this is a fairly easy swap. Just replace half the white flour with whole wheat and everything is usually fine. I've made entire cakes with only whole wheat flour. However, those recipes weren't as finicky as this one. I'm not convinced it would work here because there is so little flour compared to everything else.

2. Reduce the sugar. The recipe itself already says you can reduce the sugar, so this will probably be fine. The cake might be too bitter if you reduce it by a lot, which might be okay depending on what you like. It also might be too dry, though, which could play well with other modifications you want to make.

3.Reduce the fat. Assuming the cake doesn't already feel too greasy, the fat is really important. If you really want to reduce it, you will probably want to replace the amount you're reducing it by with something else. Since you also want to reduce the sugar, you could try replacing it with something a bit sweet, like applesauce or banana. That will change the taste of the cake, quite possibly significantly, though. The added moisture from most fat replacers might work well with whole wheat.

4.Use real coffee. This is something that I don't think would improve anything about the cake. Instant coffee works great in baked goods because it's so concentrated. Think of it as natural coffee flavour. There's no liquid other than eggs in this recipe to replace with real coffee, and even if there were, you will never get as much coffee flavour from brewed coffee as you will from coffee powder. If the cake has too much of a coffee taste, just reduce the amount of coffee powder.

5.Sourdough. This is tricky in this recipe because there's no liquid other than eggs which you can use to swap with the sourdough. And the eggs in this recipe seem really important. I guess you could swap out some flour and an egg yolk with sourdough, but I don't even think that would make this healthier. There's already not a lot of flour, and the egg yolk is loaded with protein which is arguably healthier than the sourdough anyway. Maybe if you're reducing the sugar the extra water from a bit of sourdough could somehow make up for that and you wouldn't need to get rid of any eggs. I guess maybe it could even make up for some of the butter. Also, if you're using some whole wheat flour, adding a very small amount of sourdough to add a bit of extra moisture to the cake might be okay. I don't actually know if any of these things are true.

6.Coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter. If you must change the type of fat you're using, I would go with something that's still solid at room temperature like butter is, so coconut oil instead of olive oil.

7.Black pepper. That's totally a personal taste. I can't see that it would affect the structure of the cake or anything, so go for it! That said, I think chili powder is the more normal spice to add to chocolate things.

8.Yogurt. This might work to replace some of the sugar and fat, and yes, might help hydrate the whole wheat you want to use.

 Those are all my totally-don't-know-what-I'm-doing thoughts on modifying this recipe. Good luck!


phaz's picture

Well, first, trying to change that recipe with those suggestions would result in an entirely different beast, probably one that would take a bit of used to.

Here's another idea - make a cup of coffee, add cognac, cocoa and caramel. Simple and while it won't be close to the original flavors, it'll probably be as close as if you made the changes mentioned.

Food for thought - literally. Enjoy!

clazar123's picture

Have you ever heard this very old saying "Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear". ie, you can't make this into something it is not. Cake is high in fats and carbs and is meant to be enjoyed in small amounts on special occasion. This is a rich,tasty cake devised in an era when raw eggs were safe to eat. I would suggest changing it just for that reason alone.

My suggestion is as follows:

-Find a chocolate cake recipe you like with the ingredients you like that matches the flavor and texture profile of this dessert.

-Add instant coffee. I do this all the time with chocolate desserts as the coffee's bitterness emphasizes and deepens the chocolate flavor.

-Add the cognac to the batter but especially to a topping.  HERE is an Irish whiskey cake and whiskey ganache recipe as an example.

I'm not clear on reading this recipe if the topping soakes into the cake or sits on top. There are recipes for drunken/boozey poke cakes where a rather liquidy,alcohol based topping is spooned over the warm cake and allowed to soak in. A sponge cake may not have enough body to hold that without dissolving. A denser, bundt cake may handle that better.

Some dessert recipes can be made lower calorie or lower fat but chocolate cake with a cognac chocolate frosting is not one. Make it full everything and enjoy a smaller piece less often.

Have some delicious fun