A RECIPE: Simply the best Chocolate Cake

What I’m learning about Americans’ is that they know what they want and ‘gosh darn it they’re gonna go out and get it’. They have far more guts and ambition than us polite conservative “oh, I’m terribly sorry, am I in your way” Brits. And I have to say-I’m a big fan. Of course there are areas in life where this aggression takes a less admirable stance but for the most part it cuts out all the time wasting crap and gets you straight to the point.

For one thing, it means there are no morning hold-ups in Starbucks with “umming” and “erring” about what kind of coffee to get and what kind of milk to top it off with. “Get me a grande non-fat, double shot mocha latte. Hold the cream”. Americans’, know what they want.

I’m the same with my attitude towards food. I know the end result that I want and if I don’t get it then I swear profusively, pout my lower lip and then keep at it until the recipe works the way that I want it to work. Baking books can be very guilty culprits of making something look amazing in the photos and then the home cooks end result is a disappointing mess that gets thrown in the bin. As a food stylist, I know why this is- and yes this makes me a guest at that guilty “it doesn’t look like the one in the picture” party.

So, to make up for the fact that I make a living out of deceiving novice cooks and avid bakers alike by wasting their time on sub par recipes I have here a chocolate cake recipe, which certainly isn’t a time waster. It’s just plain and simple as good as it gets- the whole nine yards without any pit stops. My mother bakes this cake and then has to freeze it after the first slice so that she doesn’t eat the whole thing. My approach is somewhat different but then restraint is not something I can make claim too. I know what I want and gosh darn it I’m gonna go out and get it.

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Simply the best chocolate cake
This cake is big and rich and if you’re into sharing then it can feed 20 people. The ingredients need to be of the best quality- there’s no messing around with this cake.

Equipment you will need:
3 large bowls.
Electric beaters
2 deep 8” (20cm) cake tins greased and lined with parchment paper

Ingredients:
For the cake
400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar or muscovado
50g good quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
150ml plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract (not essense)
3 eggs
175g butter, melted
125ml sunflower or corn oil
300ml ice cold water

For the icing:
150g 70% cocoa chocolate
225g butter
250g icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Mix the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a bowl.

2/ In a new bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until completely blended

3/ In a new bowl, beat the melted butter and oil together with your electric beaters, then add the chilled water and beat to combine.

4/ Add the dry ingredients to bowl number three all at once and beat with your electric beaters on a low speed.

5/ Add the egg mixture and mix until everything is blended.

6/ Fill your baking tins evenly, making a slight dip with the back of a spoon in the centre of each cake. Place into the oven on a central shelf and bake for 40-50 mins. Check after 40 minutes by lightly pressing your finger into the cake, if it bounces back and a toothpick comes out clean, then you are in business. If not, return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes and finish the washing up.

7/ Remove the cakes from the oven and leave in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely, you’ve waited this long so don’t get impatient now.

8/ For the icing, melt the chocolate over a double boiler and set aside to cool slightly. Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then sieve over the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gently pour over the vanilla and chocolate and mix until smooth and glossy.

9/ To put together use a large serrated knife to even the rounded tops of the cakes. (You can reserve these scraps to snack on without anyone else knowing). With a palette knife spread a generous layering of icing one one half of your cake before placing the other cake on top, bottom side up (this will give a nice flat top). Then place remaining icing onto the top of the cake and spread evenly down the sides and over the top, using your knife to smooth the sides, and being careful to wipe your knife of any crumbs. Allow the icing to firm up in the fridge before serving.

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12 Responses to “A RECIPE: Simply the best Chocolate Cake”


  1. 1 Jules October 10, 2007 at 5:48 am

    This does indeed look the business!

    I’ll let you know how it goes… in fact, I’ll try and bring you a slice on Sunday!
    xj

  2. 2 Jules October 15, 2007 at 5:47 am

    Righty ho, I made this on Saturday morning. Followed everything to the tee, except I added:
    1 jar ginger chunks in syrup, cut into small bits and folded into the cake mixture (plus some of the syrup itself, it’s too good to waste).
    A couple of hefty slugs of bourbon into the icing. Yum yum.

    The ginger chunks sank to the bottom of each of the tins, so after trimming each one to make it flat, I turned the bottom one upside down. That meant that all the gingery bits were in the centre of the finished cake, creating a gooey gingery chocolate centre throughout.

    It was really good (though I say so myself), and the tartness of the ginger and bourbon stopped it from being too rich.

    Anyhoo, sorry not to see you yesterday, we drank far too much celebrating John’s birthday/the rugby, and I couldn’t actually get out of bed until 6pm. Bleurgh.
    xj

  3. 3 Anna Helm October 15, 2007 at 5:53 am

    i guess the batter is too thin for mixing through the ginger- sounds good though, i might have to give it a go myself!

  4. 4 Jules October 15, 2007 at 10:41 am

    The batter?

    Eh?

    I didn’t deepfry it as well, you know…It’s my brother that lives in Glasgow, not me!
    xj

  5. 5 Shwun Mi January 16, 2008 at 7:54 am

    this cake looks so rich and delicious. the idea of adding butterflies on top is so creative! Please let me link this post and picture from my blog. I want to share this as my virtual-birthday-cake for my online friends 😉 thank you!

  6. 6 Anna Helm January 17, 2008 at 10:03 am

    sure! happy birthday!

  7. 7 Kevin April 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I made this cake over the Easter weekend and it was PERFECT. Ive been looking for a real good chocolate cake recipe for a while now and I’m going to hold on to this one. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  8. 8 Buy acai berry May 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Your blog is very interresting for me, i will come back here..


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