It’s been a while since I posted a recipe for chocolate cake. Now I can tell you that I have another one for you coming soon, apart from this one of course. I don’t know about you but there are times when only chocolate will do and for me there’s no better way than a good homemade sweet. I have said before and will say it again that I am one of those few who still resists adding salt to chocolate. True: salt enhances the taste of everything. However I believe that if you use good quality strong dark chocolate you don’t need anything else. I also find it drying. And contrary to what many in the industry say, I don’t find chocolate without salt to be flat in taste. Also, I have found adding coffee to be totally unnecessary. These sound like fads to me. And if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
This recipe is a riff on a cake recipe I have posted a few years ago. I made it towards the end of last year when I still couldn’t get the hang of cooking around my Maltese kitchen. I found myself so lost sometimes that I almost gave up on baking. Which would have been a pity, because I just love it. One day I decided that the best way to start familiarizing myself with my “new” oven was to make a simple cake which I have made lots of times before. So I decided to go for this one. I didn’t have any sour cream, so I used a tub of yoghurt I had in the fridge instead. The taste was completely different, though for me it worked well. I hope it works well for you too. After all you might have some plain yoghurt in your fridge that you might want to use up. Tell me how you get on.
For the cake:
- 200g ’00’ cake flour or plain flour
- 200g sugar
- 2 level teaspoons baking powder
- 40g cocoa powder
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 150ml plain yoghurt
For the icing:
- 75g unsalted butter
- 175g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
- 300g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 125ml plain yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For topping the cake:
- red sugar sprinkles or hundreds and thousands, optional
Take out all the ingredients that are stored in the fridge to let them reach room temperature, that is if you’re not baking in the hot Maltese summer weather.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4. Line and grease two sandwich tins.
In a large bowl mix the the flour, sugar and baking powder, and beat in the butter till you have a soft and creamy mixture. In another bowl whisk the cocoa, yoghurt, vanilla extract and eggs together (you can do this by hand), and add this to the flour mixture in the large bowl. Give it a good mix until everything is just combined.
Divide the cake batter into your two tins and bake for about 50 minutes. Every oven is different so start checking your cakes after around 30 minutes with a skewer or knife. When completely baked, remove the cakes from the oven and put them on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes in their tins. When they are cool enough for you to handle turn them out completely and onto the rack.
For the icing, melt the chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. (I find this way is better than melting in the microwave because you have more control.) When the chocolate has completely melted remove it from the heat and leave to cool. In the meantime, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl.
Add the golden syrup into the melted chocolate mixture which has now cooled. Then add the yoghurt, vanilla and the sieved icing sugar. Whisk the lot. Depending on how you want the icing consistency to be, you can now add around a tablespoon of boiling water for a thinner icing, or some more icing sugar for a thicker mixture. Your icing should be easily spreadable and not too runny.
Place a piece of baking paper to cover the base of a plate or cake stand (for any excess icing that will surely drip) and start assembling your cake: first one layer of cake, then a layer of icing in the middle, then the other cake on top. Cover with some more of the icing.
Top the icing with loads of red hundreds and thousands, or sprinkles, or with whatever sugar decorations you like.
P.S. For those asking me for another lemon cake, watch out for it in the next post or two. It’s going to be a good one.
(This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast, Chatto and Windus, 2006.)
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