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[Photograph: Elizabeth Barbone]

Beautiful cakes often require a big investment in time and effort. Thankfully, there's an alternative for those occasions when you want a pretty cake but don't have the time to make one: a bundt cake. The method for this cake couldn't be any easier—you dump all the ingredients into one bowl, whisk, bake, and you're done.

For this cake, I wanted to make something deeply chocolaty. So I relied on an old baker's trick: I boosted the chocolate flavor, not by adding more chocolate, but by using coffee as my liquid. You'd think coffee combined with the chocolate would make the cake taste like mocha. It doesn't. It tastes simply of chocolate. Of course, if you don't like coffee or are allergic to it, you can replace it with milk or a dairy-free milk replacement.

The resulting cake turned out so chocolaty and moist it almost begged to be served with a hot cup of coffee. Since it's a bundt cake, you don't need to do anything to finish it. The pan takes care of the decor for you. Still want to ice it? I'm not going to stop you! If you feel like it, gild that lily. Or, you know, glaze that cake!

Two icings work really well. For something rich, finish the cake with a chocolate ganache—if you're dairy-free, use full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream. If you want something a little lighter, whip up a quick confectionery glaze of powdered sugar and water. To flavor the icing, add a little vanilla extract or a little lemon- or orange-oil (I'm partial to the citrus oil myself). This time of year, as summer yields to fall, a burst of tart citrus against such a rich cakes adds a lovely touch of brightness that's always welcome.

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