Writing about some of my favourite cake recipes at the end of every April has become a sort of tradition here on C&T. It’s my birthday later on in the week so it’s kind of themed, at least for me! It started a few month after the birth of this blog, when people started asking me about the cake or cakes (because yes, there were times when I made more than one) I usually make for the day. I try to vary as much as possible, but I can happily say that more often than not there’s always a copious amount of chocolate involved.
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.
I feel as if I’m getting my blogging mojo back! And since I am now on Flickr, I have decided to upload a two or three photos a week whenever I can. I was very hesitant at first and always questioned why I (or rather J) thought I would need to be present on another platform, apart from the usual Facebook and Twitter. I had almost enough of Facebook and again, I often think about not bothering with it at all. What I hate is the fact that they change the rules often, without making any form of announcement. (Case in point: I’m trying to upload this on FB and some setting has definitely changed since three days ago!)
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I didn’t bake much lately. Sometimes I lack inspiration and recipes. When I said that to J he gave me this I-can’t-believe-you’re-saying-this-and-what-about-all-those-recipe-books-you-have look! I can’t blame him. Recently a friend of mine, who wants to learn how to bake, asked me for a list of books (she said maybe a list of up to ten books will suffice for now) with a variety of easy recipes for her to try. Of course I sent her much more than that, even though I specified which ones I consider best. You see, recipe books come in various kinds, and they come and go, because some are just fads. And others are just repetitive – plain and simple. Some cooks who have published a gazillion books, copy and paste from their own books, so when you think about it, they could have just come up with a bumper book and leave it at that! Even my favourite people have done that. It’s inevitable and it happens not only in cooking.
I find that some ingredients don’t let you be creative. This could be because I’m no chef. I just love cooking and baking, and you could say that not being extra mega imaginative is ok for someone like me. I’ll tell you one thing: when you’re a food blogger this won’t do. The good thing with us is that we can blog about food in general, without necessarily giving recipes. My readers, who are extremely supportive, don’t seem to be bothered too much whenever I just rave or rant about something in particular, and I’m so thankful about that! They are really generous. But once in a while they do ask me for a pudding or two or some cake ideas.
So once again, what I am giving you here is a chocolate cake. I’m never tired of chocolate, or cake for that matter! It’s very moist and luscious, but not that rich which is what we need sometimes. It has honey in it so it’s not for everyone, but I love this cake especially after a light meal, where you think you’ll be good because you’ve just ate something healthy, but then just give in and say “oh well, I’ve been really good, but now I’ll be really bad!” I saw this in Nigella Feast, made the cake with a little tweaks but didn’t make the frosting as instructed, not because it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t like the idea of a honey frosting. I love honey but too much makes my teeth squeak! So I made a simple icing out of chocolate, which you can find here. (You could also try her cola icing; believe me it doesn’t taste like cola at all so it will do for this cake too.) I did half the quantity though and it worked well. I am always stuck when I have extra, and making less means not having to bake something else. Here it is:
- 100g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
- 275g light brown sugar
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 125ml runny honey
- 2 large eggs
- 200g plain flour (all purpose)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder
- 250ml boiling water
- Make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature.
- Place the chocolate chunks into a small bowl and melt by putting this over simmering water. Make sure that the water does not touch the bowl. When the chocolate is completely melted set it aside to cool. (Please note that this water has nothing to do with the boiling water listed in the ingredients. It is extra.)
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4, and line and grease a springform cake tin (preferably a 23cm one).
- Place the sugar and softened butter into a large bowl and whisk the ingredients well until they become white in colour and creamy in texture. Add the honey.
- Tip in the first egg and a tablespoonful of flour and beat into the mixture, and do the same with the second egg. This will avoid any curdling in the batter. Fold in the melted chocolate, the remainder of the flour and two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Sieve in the cocoa powder to remove any lumps. Then add the boiling water and beat the mixture once more. Your batter should be completely smooth.
- Tip in the batter into the prepared cake tin and check it after 40 minutes. If the cake is browning too quickly from the top, cover this with a piece of kitchen foil. Check it again after 20 minutes. When the cake is ready remove from the oven and leave it to cool on a rack, still in the tin. Remove the springform and when it’s cool enough for you to handle, place a clean hand on the top of the cake, turn it over, remove the base and place it on a cake stand. Frost it if you like and how you like.
Don’t let the many steps frighten you. It’s easy I promise you. This is what I will bake during my birthday week. I love this and so will you! For my birthday, which is today, I’m off to Guildford for a special treat at Raymond Blanc’s bakery and get myself some lovely macaroons! I’m off….
I love food, but let’s be honest, there are things that I don’t like to eat (or drink for that matter) that much. One of these is tea…I just can’t take tea. I don’t like the smell and I don’t like to prepare it. I do sometimes for J if that counts for something. I know that you will forgive me for this one small thing anyway! Another pet-hate of mine is raisins. Yes I know…I know…how can I not like raisins?! Believe me I would change this if I would! I bake with them often though, because they are a must-have in a lot of cakes and so on, and they’re so Christmassy too! So I do have a little taste every now and again.
Now I must tell you that this year I’ve decided to approach Christmas food in a different way. I did not make a Christmas cake because it takes us until July to eat it all, and frankly, Summer is no season for a cake that rich! Secondly we’re only two people at home so I don’t want to end up with loads of leftovers in the fridge. But we might have some friends over for the holidays so I don’t want to skimp either. After one of the joys of Christmas is being able to feed people and prepare a feast, even on a budget. I’ve already tried all my recipes so I feel prepared and I am so looking forward to this year’s festivities.
Recently I’ve come across a recipe from Nigella’s HTBADG for a Coca Cola Cake. Please don’t be frightened and don’t panic because there’s absolutely no reason to! You don’t need much and it’s there for a reason: it makes your chocolate cake so moist and wonderful that you won’t want to look back and do it any other way. I promise! It’s quick and easy to prepare as always and it’s a great bake for this period of the year, when it’s likely to have people visiting at short notice. (I love having people over; if I were still in Malta I think I would set up camp in my kitchen!) Storing this cake in foil in a cool place will keep it beautifully moist and fresh for around three to five days. But you can forget about that because it’ll be gone by two! Enjoy and tell me what you think if you do try it.
Things you will need for the cake:
- 23cm Springform round cake tin, lined with kitchen foil, then greased.
- 200g plain flour
- 250g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 large egg
- 30g yoghurt mixed w/ 100ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 175ml Coca Cola (Please – not diet!)
Ingredients for the icing (optional but hey it is Christmas!):
- 225g icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 x 15ml tablespoons Coca Cola
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf. In the meantime prepare the cake tin by lining it with kitchen foil and grease it will a some butter so nothing sticks. You can use this foil to store the cake in, away from anyone who might want to eat it all!
- Take a large bowl. Put in the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and mix. In a measuring jug beat in the egg, yoghurt, milk and vanilla extract. Grab a saucepan, put it on gentle heat, and melt the softened butter, cocoa powder and Coca Cola. Pour this cola mixture in the dry ingredients, mix well with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Then pour in the ingredients from the measuring jug. Combine everything well and pour the batter into the cake tin.
- Place the tin on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for approximately 40 mins till a skewer or a knife comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for around 20 minutes in its tin, and in the meantime prepare the icing.
- In a small saucepan place the butter, Cola, and stir on a gentle heat till the butter has completely melted. In a small bowl, sieve the icing sugar. When the butter has melted, switch the heat off and remove the pan onto your kitchen surface and add the vanilla. Gradually spoon the icing sugar into the saucepan beating well as you go along. You should end up with a spreadable icing which will still be a bit runny. So don’t worry.
Pour this icing while the cake is still warm. It will melt slightly but it adds to the gooey yummy-ness of this cake.
If you want to turn it up a notch, bake two cakes, spread some of that yummy hazelnut spread in between the two, sandwich them together and ice as usual!