A Life of Sinful Pleasures.

I said once, that my blog was but a drop in an ocean, an ocean of amazing blogs, created by professional photographers or professional chefs and everything in between those two extremes. It could make me sad that I am such a small drop; then again, what is an ocean, but a multitude of drops, just like me? It really does brighten up my day when realisations like this cross my mind. Knowing that other people are as inquisitive, as impulsive and are as susceptible to boredom as I am.

I just thought i’d share, it doesn’t really have much to do with my post for today, except that it’s general musings. Today I pay homage to a simple pleasure, a sinful, delicious simple pleasure. Chocolate fudge cake. I know it’s been done to death, it really has. It’s on every food website, each with their own tweak, all self proclaiming their recipe as the single best chocolate fudge cake in the kingdom. Now, i’d like to thing that i’m not an arrogant person, I’m just a person who loves to cook in my spare time. I didn’t go to culinary school, I have just cooked and baked enough to understand my own personal tastes and how to satisfy different cravings.

So, there shall be no “Ultimate Chocolate Cake” no “Chocolate So Good You’d Kill Your Grandmother For It”, no “World’s Best Chocolate Cake” nor anything else of that variety here. You are just welcome to read about it, and see if it’s something you think you’d enjoy.

The making came about in the same way that man of my cakes come about, a birthday. My sister’s birthday to be exact. She asked me to make a chocolate fudge cake, and I tried my best to comply! The resulting cake turned out to be a resounding success. It consists of a light cocoa sponge cake, coated in a creamy, chocolatey buttercream and topped with a little dark, rich ganache to help with the sweetness. I should mention before you start, while this isn’t a cake for showcasing beautiful dark chocolates, when using milk, you can’t use stuff like Dairy Milk. Not because I’m a chocolate snob or anything, it’s simply because of the vegetable fat content, it really messes up when baking with it. So it’s best to just steer clear of Cadbury’s altogether and go for something a little more special! Also, the buttercream that is used isn’t the traditional American-style super sweet buttercream, it’s closer to French buttercream, so don’t expect it to be monstrously sweet, it has much more of a chocolatey hit.

I did not create the entire of this recipe, I sort of mixed two recipes I had together, taking the best of each. Kind of because I didn’t have all the ingredients for either cake, and kind of because I wanted to try something a little different. I struck a lucky chord I think and got something truly quite lovely.

Light Cocoa Sponge
Makes a double layered cake.

85g Plain Flour
95g Self Raising Flour
2 Tblsp Cocoa Powder
1.5 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
150g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
150ml Sunflower Oil
150ml Milk
2 Tblsp Golden Syrup

– Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan)/Gas mark 4 and grease and line two sandwich tins. A little side note here, the sponge is quite light and delicate, it really, really needs to be lined. Just trust me, please, don’t skip this!
– Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the sugar and mix well
– Make a little well in the middle and add the syrup, eggs, oil and milk. Beat with a whisk to get the lumps out quickly, pour into the sandwich tins and get them in the oven pretty pronto!
– Bake for 25-30 minutes (Maybe a little bit longer in a fan oven). Keep an eye on it, don’t let it burn too much, most good quality cocoa powders are more of a russet-brown rather than a dark brown colour, if you can’t tell if it’s burning at the edges, check to see if it’s starting to go muddy brown rather than the velvety-russet it should be turning! Russet, I love that word today!
– Leave it to cool completely then ice it with your buttercream. Don’t ice it when it’s still warm! Buttercream is 1/3 butter, it will melt. Trust me! Leave it to go cold, make it the day before if you like, it’ll keep well for a good 4/5 days in an airtight tin.

Chocolate Buttercream
Covers a double layered cakes or roughly 24 cupcakes.
200g Butter
200g Icing Sugar
100g High Percentage Dark Chocolate (about 80%)
100g Milk Chocolate (not too sweet if you can help it!) – Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and set aside to cool.- Beat the butter until it’s workable, sieve in the icing sugar into it and mix in batches, it makes it a little easier to work it in.

– Pour the cooled chocolate in and mix into the butter and sugar mixture together until everything is well incorporated.
– If you’re using this for the fudge cake, you can spatula it on right away and get smoothing. If it’s for cupcakes, however, leave for a few minutes to cool down a little, it’ll keep it’s shape better when you’re piping it!

To assemble this cake you will need the above recipes, this chocolate ganache recipe, a spatula, and some chocolate buttons to decorate.
Reduce the chocolate ganache recipe to 50ml of cream and 50g chocolate, you don’t need the full amount (use the instructions on the link though)! Sandwich the two layers of chocolate sponge together with half of the ganache, and leave it to set for 15 minutes or so, it’s difficult to ice a cake properly when it’s sliding around on top of ganache so it’s best to let it set a bit first.

I’m still very new to icing cakes, so I’m just going to give you the tips that I’ve found useful to me when I’m baking, don’t take it as gospel or the quickest way to do things though. When starting to ice the cake, I find it’s easier to fill in the gaps first. You will have gaps in this cake, because they rise to a lovely dome, and instead of cutting the top off the bottom layer and losing all the loveliness, just fill it with the icing and nobody shall know! Then ice the outside, take big blobs of icing and smooth it with the side of your spatula, it doesn’t matter if there’s loads, you’ll scrape quite a bit off when you come to smoothing it.  Hold your spatula vertically and slowly drag it round the outside of the cake, taking off a layer as you go (put it back in the bowl, don’t waste it!). Just keep doing that until you get it nice and smooth. Then do the same to the top of the cake, except holding your spatula horizontally.

Once that is done, slowly spoon the rest of the chocolate ganache on top of the cake and smooth it with the back of the spoon. Leave it to set a little and decorate however you like with chocolate buttons. Get a few forks and go to town, go all Bruce Bogtrotter on this cake, it’s delish!

Keep it in your binder folks, it’s a keeper. Oh, and a Happy New Year to all of you, whatever wonderful, sordid things you got up to!