This week, a recipe from Anne Byrn, aka the Cake Mix Doctor, for Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake. The recipe comes from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns, which Workman will publish in October. Byrn’s take on semi-homemade cake baking includes using a package of plain chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines “Moist Deluxe” chocolate fudge), along with more traditional ingredients like cocoa powder and sour cream, plus a hit of espresso powder. The cake turned out fluffy and towering, probably because I used a tube pan that was a tad smaller than the size Byrn called for. No matter: it was tasty. And yes, I felt a little guilty about using a cake mix (next time I might step it up to a more high-end mix), but hey, it was good.

Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake

Serves 12 to 16

Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pan
Flour, for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 cup evaporated milk (see Notes)
1/2 vegetable oil
5 large eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons espresso or regular instant coffee granules
1/2 batch of Martha’s Chocolate Icing (see recipe below) or 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust it with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, butter, sour cream, milk, oil, eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look smooth and thick. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 48 to 54 minutes. Transfer the tube pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another wire rack so that the cake is right side up. Let the cake cool completely, about 25 minutes longer.

4. To glaze the cake, prepare half a recipe of Martha’s Chocolate Icing and pour it over the top of the cooled cake. Or, sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake. Slice the cake and serve.

Note: Buy a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk and use the remainder in the icing, if desired.

Martha’s Chocolate Icing

Makes 1½ cups, enough to frost a 2-layer cake, 24 cupcakes, or a 13- x 9-inch cake

1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the granulated sugar, butter, milk, and corn syrup in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil, 3 to 4 minutes. Still stirring, let the mixture boil until the granulated sugar dissolves, 1 minute longer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla. Continue stirring until the icing is smooth and the chocolate has melted. Use the icing immediately; it sets up quickly.