the cake that cures everything but smaller

The Cake that Cures Everything But Smaller

In My Kitchen Year, Ruth Reichl published a recipe for an enormous cake which she called “The Cake That Cures Everything”. What a cake! Made of two gigantic 9×13 layers, it could serve 36 chocolate lovers(!) Her original recipe may be found on her own website, as well as among the recipes compiled by the NY Times. If you make the cake in its original ginormous size, be sure to invite all your friends, who will surely love it. I have a small family, though, and what I needed was the Cake That Cures Everything – but smaller.

This is a seriously wonderful cake: deep, chocolatey, tender, with an outstanding frosting. Everybody who tasted it raved about it. If you don’t need or want 36 servings, I wrote a recipe for that cake cut down to size. This is a 1/3 recipe version, made in two modest loaf pans. As with any recipe that has been resized, some of the amounts look very strange. (check out that powdered sugar amount, for example). I find it easier, in general, to use a scale, and simply weigh out the ingredients.

My kitchen experiment was successful. I’ll pass on the method to you, if only to save you from the math. You just try dividing 2.5 cups by 3! The result is a cake that will serve 8 to 10. If that’s still too large, well, the pieces freeze well.

Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year is well worth your purchase and study. Her original recipe for The Cake that Cures Everything may be found on her own website, as well as among the recipes compiled by the NY Times.


the cake that cures everything but smaller

That Cake That Cures Everything - But Smaller

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, cake
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Ruth Reichl's wondrous (and huge) cake, cut down to size
Print Recipe



  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch processed) 33 g
  • ½ cup boiling water 120 g
  • ¼ cup whole milk 60 ml
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 2½ ml
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 125 g
  • tsp baking soda 3 g
  • ¼ tsp salt 1½ g
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened 113 g
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar 120 g
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 100 g
  • 2 eggs


  • 1⅔ ounces unsweetened chocolate 48 g
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick) 57 g
  • c whipped cream cheese 75 g
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract 2½ ml
  • 13 Tbsp powdered sugar (¾ cup + 1 Tbsp) 104 g


  • Heat the oven to 350˚F/190˚C. Butter 2 standard loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, or 21 x 11 x 6 cm) and line them with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and then dust the pans lightly with cocoa powder.


  • Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in ½ cup boiling water until it is smooth, dark, and very glossy. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
    In another bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat in both sugars until the mixture is light, fluffy, and the color of coffee with cream – about 5 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating about 30 seconds after each one, before adding the next.
    On a low speed, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, starting and ending with the flour (flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour). The batter may look curdled, but that’s okay.
  • Pour half the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven about 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean of crumbs. (The color and material of your loaf pans will affect the time needed.) When the cake is done, remove the pans from the oven, and place on racks to cool. Let them cool 10-15 minutes, and then turn out the cakes from the pans, and let them continue cooling on the rack until they are completely cool.


  • Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Let it cool enough that you could put the pan on your open palm with no discomfort at all.
  • Mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the cooled chocolate, the vanilla, and a  pinch of salt, and stir thoroughly. Mix in the powdered sugar and, using the mixer again,  beat well until the frosting is light and fluffy – at least 5 minutes


  • When the cake layers are completely cool, it’s time to assemble the cake. Put one layer on a rectangular plate. Spread about one third of the frosting on that layer, then put the second layer on top and frost the whole thing.
  • This cake will serve 8 to 10 people, depending on how you slice it.


  • This cake takes well to the freezer, even in the frosted state. Freeze slices, then once frozen, wrap well. To serve from frozen: unwrap each slice, then  warm in the microwave (carefully) or leave out to come to room temperature.