Well, I can safely say that my recipe-a-day for National Baking Week went completely to plan…it really didn’t. I’d apologise, but honestly, I was dying of a cold for most of the week and nobody wants a cake baked by somebody coughing every three seconds into the crook of their arm!
But, on my honour, and also by request, I have been asked to cover the subject of chocolate cake. I’m not even going to pretend the recipe I use is the quickest recipe out there, it does take quite a bit of time to make, but it’s not monstrously difficult, you just need to pay a bit of attention that’s all. If you’re put off already, shame! This is quite a big cake, and can easily 16-20 servings out of it. Now, i’m usually a very haphazard cook with most things, exchanging ingredients I don’t have in the cupboard or things I can’t afford and what not.
I’ve mentioned before that if you’re cooking vanilla cupcakes or birthday cake, to use a good vanilla extract (not essence), and the same applies to all other types of cake, chocolate or otherwise. I absolute hate cook’s chocolate, it’s waxy, and disgusting, and there’s no need to use it unless you want perfectly round chocolate chips in cookies. If I could eradicate it, I would. If you want to make a really lovely chocolate cake (for a birthday or party), you do need to invest in decent chocolate.
Do you even need to ask what I choose?
There’s a temptation when baking to just bung it all in together and forget about the individual effects that each ingredient has on the another, but it’s not a great idea with baking. As i’m sure many will know, the logistics of baking is very much a science, and if you don’t consider all the bits and pieces you’ll end up with a whole plethora of problems, like cakes not rising or being too dry. Both of which I have experience many a time.
But, I won’t go too much into it right now, as this post is all about the cake.
Chocolate Layer Cake
300g light muscovado sugar
100g plain flour
100g self raising flour
300g dark chocolate– Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3 and grease and line 3 sandwich tins
– Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and leave to cool slightly at the side.
– Combine the sugar & butter until fluffy.
– Add eggs one by one, if the mixture goes too eggy add a tablespoon of the flour mixture and beat in to prevent it from splitting it too much.
– Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg and sugar mixture and beat in slowly.
– Fold in the flour, try not to knock it around too much!
– Spoon into the three sandwich tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, it should only have a light crust, but it shouldn’t wobble in the middle!
The finished product!This is the recipe for the bulk of the cake, you can choose your own style of icing, if you’d rather go down the sweeter aisle, you can choose a milk chocolate ganache (such as the recipe that will follow) or you can choose a dark chocolate ganache (which I will include a recipe for too) depending upon your tastes. If you fancy a bit of both use milk chocolate to sandwich the layers together and dark chocolate to cover the outside. Ganache is a wonderous marriage of cream and chocolate and makes a beautiful glossy icing that’s not as sweet as buttercream, and is easily sculptable to make your cake look all fancy and pretty. The basic concept is to boil cream and pour it when it’s boiling over chopped chocolate and let it melt in, cool it a little and then spread it over the sponge you’ve baked. If you don’t have the time to do it all in one go, I would recommend you make the sponges and stick them in the fridge, because ganache doesn’t keep particularly well. I found this out once when I stuck it in the fridge to make it cool with a little more pace, forgot about it and had to chisel it out of the bowl . So yes, sponges first, and make the icing fresh, and if you do leave it in the fridge to thicken up, don’t forget about it!
Milk Chocolate Ganache
Enough to sandwich 3 cakes together
300g milk chocolate
60ml double cream
30g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract– Put the butter and cream on a low heat, stirring continuously.
– Add the chocolate and stir until completely melted, it won’t take a few minutes and add the vanilla.
– Spread in the cake right away!
In my recipe book i’ve noted quite eloquently at the bottom of this recipe:“Do not over mix milk chocolate icing or it buggers up! Also, don’t return to the heat or the butter does something weird”I’m not entirely sure what that means, but i’m going to assume it means use it as soon as you make it.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
Enough to cover a 3 layer cake
300ml double cream
– Bring the cream to the boil.
– Pour over chocolate and stir until melted.
– Spread on cake.
– Smush your own and a friend’s face into cake.
– Lick friend’s face.
And you’ll end up with something that looks a little like this beast.
That’s pretty much it. It’s honestly as simple as that. If you want it thicken, let it cool more by putting it in the fridge (but don’t forget about it). Other than that that’s all you really need to know.