Moist, dense, and very chocolatey. This traditional Greek Chocolate Cake is made in an old-fashioned way using just cocoa instead of chocolate, flavored with brandy or scotch, and then soaked with a hot cocoa syrup right as it comes out of the oven. You don't even have to use an electric mixer to make it! Which is one of the reasons nowadays that can actually make me go into my kitchen to make a cake (if you spend all day cooking, the less there is for cleaning and washing, the better).
So other than the fact that this cake is made without modern electric appliances, what makes it old-fashioned is the lack of chocolate and the use of cocoa. Chocolate was a luxury during post-war times so cocoa came in to save the day.
Also, like most Greek Desserts, this Sokolatopita cake is soaked with syrup. This started as a means to preserve a dessert during times that modern methods of preservation aka a fridge, weren't available. So syrup helped keep a dessert for a few days at room temperature. But since this syrup soaking method yielded also very flavorful sweets it survived until today. Could you possibly imagine a Baklava without syrup? Naaah...
Other traditional Greek desserts made with syrup:
- Galaktoboureko - Syrupy Custard Pie With Phyllo
- Syrup Soaked Cake Baklava With Pistachios
- Kataifi Bites - Shredded Phyllo Baklava's
Why Baking With Cocoa Is Better Than Chocolate
Have you ever noticed that when you bake a cake using cocoa has a more strong chocolate flavor than when you bake a cake using chocolate? There are a few reasons that explain this.
Chocolate might be ideal for making a chocolate souffle or lava cake where you bake it just enough to leave some of it oozing out, but when your aim is to make a cake, then cocoa is the best option and that's because:
Chocolate is made from cocoa and cocoa butter (plus some other stuff depending on each type). When you use just the cocoa, you get to use the 100% of the chocolatey flavor without its butter. And when you are already adding butter to make a cake, do you really need the cocoa butter as well? Nope, and that's also why cocoa cakes are softer and airier in texture than chocolate cakes. No extra fat to weigh them down!
Just like coffee, cocoa comes in good and bad qualities as well. If you want a really strong and deep flavor, it's best to use a cocoa label that's 100% cocoa, unsweetened, and preferably organic. If you're not sure which one to buy, here's a top-notch quality you can order online.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake - Sokolatopita
For The Cake :
- 150 grams / 5.3 oz butter melted
- 50 grams / 1.7 oz sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 100 grams / 3.5 milk
- 10 grams / 0.35 oz baking powder
- 5 grams / 0.17 oz baking soda
- 20 ml brandy (or scotch)
- 200 grams / 7 oz all purpose flour
- 80 grams / 2.8 oz cocoa powder unsweetened
For The Syrup:
- 400 grams / 14.1 oz sugar
- 500 grams / 17.6 oz water
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder unsweetened
For The Cake :
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F.
- In a bowl stir together the flour and cocoa and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until slightly foamy and thickened.
- Sift half the flour mixture into the eggs using a sifter.
- In a small bowl whisk together the milk, baking powder, baking soda, and brandy. Pour mixture into the cake batter and stir well. Then sift the remaining half flour mixture into the batter and stir well to combine. Pour in the melted butter and stir to combine.
- Grease a round 10-inch / 26 cm pan with some oil or butter.
- Add the cake batter in the pan and spread evenly with a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes or until when you prick the cake in the center with a knife, the knife comes out clean.
For The Syrup;
- While the cake is baking make the syrup. In a saucepan add the sugar and water and bring to a boil.
- Cook the syrup for 5-10 minutes until it thickens slightly. No need to stir while it boils.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.
- Once the cake is baked, divide it into 8 or more pieces. Using a ladle, pour the hot syrup over the cake while it's still hot in the pan. If the syrup looks like a lot, no worries the cake will soak it all up as it cools down.
- Let cake reach room temperature and then refrigerate ideally overnight. DO NOT add this cake in the fridge while it's still hot. As the syrup will crystalize.
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