This is basically the same recipe my great-grandmother used. It's chocolatey, old-timey, and it reminds me of happy childhood memories. A while ago I lost my copy of the recipe and went hunting online for it. I've tried versions of this that used chocolate chips, and I like that addition. (Use about 1/4 cup of semi-sweet, miniature, high end chips, and sprinkle on top before you pour the water). The only improvement to this recipe I can think of is to use vanilla bean paste instead of the extract (1:1), and use mixing bowls. One to make the cake batter, and a 2nd to mix the brown sugar and cocoa. Then, pour the cocoa/brown sugar on top, and then cover that with hot water. I tried preparing this as described here and it was a mess. I spilled flour and cocoa powder on my counter and floor because I barely had room in my baking dish to stir. When I transferred the dry cake ingredients to a mixing bowl, I found that the entire bottom of the pan was unblended flour. Now I understand all the negative "it tastes like flour" reviews. To properly blend the brown sugar and cocoa powder, use a proper mixing bowl and blend with a whisk or fork. When doubling, bake until you can see by poking it with a knife, that the cake is cooked. It takes me about 50 minutes to bake a doubled batch at sea level.
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This is basically the same recipe my great-grandmother used. It's chocolatey, old-timey, and...