Well, dear readers, I’m back after 3 month since my last post – with itchy fingers and plenty to write! During this time I’ve changed jobs (a rather stressful experience), started and completed a correspondence course (I got 80%, yay!), and went on a jam-packed, 4-week overseas trip (the first holiday in 3+ years!). I’m feeling rather exhausted just thinking about it all, to be honest!
But anyway, I thought I’d start off 2014 with this, the best chocolate cake I know how to make. It’s a big call, I know, to call something the ultimate of anything… Let me just say first that this is not one of those beauteous, highly decorated jobs – in fact there’s no icing at all. But what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste. This is a very chocolately, moist cake that keeps well (a bit like gingerbread) – in fact, it improves the longer you wait to eat it. Perfect for making ahead of time, and to encourage the eating of smaller proportions, which is useful for this side of Christmas.
I have adapted the recipe a bit from Nigella’s dense chocolate loaf cake, from How To Be a Domestic Goddess. She calls it ‘the essence of all that is desirable in chocolate’, with a ‘damp, heady aromatic denseness’. Full credit goes to her for such a wonderful recipe; below is my tinkered-with version, just to cut down on the amount of muscavado sugar a bit. While not essential, I highly recommend using a cake mixer. Oh, and one more thing – the full recipe makes a loaf cake, while half the recipe makes 12 cupcakes. Although I did once use the full recipe to make 12 cupcakes as well as a half loaf cake. Up to you, really.
100g chocolate (I use the 50% dark chocolate from Whittakers)
200g dark muscovado sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
250ml just-boiled water
- Melt the chocolate and leave it to cool slightly while you get on with the rest.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (or 180°C for cupcakes) with an oven tray. Line a loaf tin (or muffin tray).
- Cream the butter and both sugars.
- Add in one egg at a time, mixing well in between. Add the vanilla, mix well.
- Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well.
- Alternatively add in spoonfuls of the flour (with baking soda mixed in) and hot water (this is the part where using a cake mixer is extremely handy and fun).
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 30 minutes, although the loaf cake needs an additional 15 minutes at 170°C.
The cake itself is both fluffy and substantial, and very delicious. I really don’t think the shape or size matters to much, or that decorations are necessary; just make it, wrap it up well once it’s cool, and eat it with glee over the next few days.
It really does keep well, and I can report that it also travelled extremely well (see photo below). I made it the day before going from Auckland to Taipei, including a 7-hour stop in Brisbane. My relatives and I were eating this cake every day for about 4 days after I arrived – and it never once tasted stale. My only regret is that I didn’t bring them 2 cakes!