My friend Suzanne served in the Peace Corps for two years in
Kenya in the late Eighties. The Peace Corps at that time published
a recipe book for their volunteers that provided a chocolate
cake recipe that was special in that one could mix it in one
pot, use vegetable oil, which was more readily available than
butter, and cook in the same pot over a charcoal brazier.
Suzanne perfected the recipe, especially for cooking over the
brazier, and since she had the only home for miles around with
a cement floor, a tin roof, and good water, she would often
play hostess to nearby volunteers and serve them this cake (usually
Once Suzanne returned to the States, she then spent months of
trial and error, and several burnt cakes, to adjust the recipe
for oven cooking (and layering and frosting). It is now her
family's favorite cake, which they dub "Kenya Cake". A rich,
easy to make chocolate cake, with a great history. Thanks so
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1 cup + 2 Tbsp canola oil
5 large or 4 extra large/jumbo eggs
¾ cup water
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa (use Van Houten, Droste, or other dark, high quality
alkalized unsweetened cocoa.)
a flavoring liquid (water, vanilla, rum, cognac, kirsch, or
1 1/2 cup butter - firm, not cold, not too soft
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1) In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, salt, baking
powder, baking soda, sugar, and cocoa.
2) Add 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water and 1 cup and 2 tablespoons
of canola oil. Mix for 1 minute.
3) Add eggs, 3/4 cup of water, vanilla. Mix 5-6 minutes with
a whisk, 3-4 minutes with a hand mixer, or 2 minutes with a
4) Pour into three 10" cake pans, bake at 350°F for 25-35
minutes (adjust for convection); test by placing and removing
a. toothpick through the center at 25 minutes. When toothpick
comes out clean, loosen from pans and then put back in the pans.
Let cakes cool for 15 minutes. Keep in the pans, wrap in foil,
and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
This part is a little harder as it is really done to taste.
1) Put powdered sugar and 3/4 cup cocoa into a food processor.
Pulse until blended.
2) Drizzle in, until about the consistency of firm butter, several
tablespoons of flavoring liquid (water if you aren't looking
for flavor beyond the cocoa and butter). To not put in too much
liquid, but if you do, add cocoa or sugar. Taste. When the flavor
and consistency is right,
3) add 1 1/2 cup of butter (firm, not cold and not too soft).
A good rule of thumb is that both the butter and the sugar mixture
should be slightly firmer than you would want it to be to spread
it, since the mixing action of the food processor will warm
it slightly. Pulse until blended.