Today was a day for burgers, not cake. I met up with about 20 food bloggers for lunch at Moo Gourmet Burgers in Newtown. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome with goodie bags and complimentary champagne. I enjoyed the food – I had the kangaroo burger, which came with beetroot relish and homemade mayo, and some wine. I also nibbled someone’s chips and tried spoonfuls of another someone’s banana split. (The nice thing about food bloggers is that they are generally happy to share – as long as you wait until after the photographs have been taken).
But this post is about cake. I figure lots of other food bloggers will write about the burger party anyway. Meeting other bloggers and talking about blogs inspired me to come home and finish this unfinished post about the birthday cake I baked for my husband two weeks ago.
Isn’t it pretty?
The conventional wisdom is that it is women who go ga-ga for chocolate, but in my family it is my husband who is the chocolate lover. I love it too but I equally adore the tart flavours of ingredients like lemon and rhubarb. Now, my husband is not the type to indulge in chocolate all the time but for something special like a birthday cake, I knew I couldn’t go past chocolate.
I was looking for a particular sort of chocolate cake – one that was rich enough to be a proper treat but without the overload and remorse you often get from a chocolate mud cake. I did think about making black forest cake – a favourite of mine but something I haven’t had in years – but it looked too involved. Since I would be making this with two one-year-olds in the house, I didn’t want something that involved a pastry base and layers.
In the end I decided I liked the look of the chocolate fudge cake in the Leiths Baking Bible. It called for sour cream or creme fraiche rather than milk, which I thought would give it a bit of richness and sophistication. It was also a sandwich cake – meaning it was two cakes with a filling – so I thought it would look suitably impressive, without actually being particularly difficult.
Recipe – Chocolate fudge cake
Adapted from Leiths Baking Bible
115g (4oz) soft butter
115g (4oz) caster sugar
115g (4oz) brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten (room temperature)
170g (6oz) self-raising flour
55g (2oz) cocoa powder
pinch of salt
6tbs sour cream
1tsp vanilla essence
For the icing: 200g-225g (8oz) good-quality dark cooking chocolate, in chunks
225g (8oz) sour cream
1tbs caster sugar
2 round cake tins, about 20cm (8″) in diameter. Sandwich tins are best because the sides are lower.
Baking paper, scissors
Fat for greasing the tins. I used vegetable shortening left over from making Christmas mince pies.
2 mixing bowls
1. Grease cake tins and line with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugars and add eggs gradually.
3. Heat the oven to 180C (350F).
4. Sift flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda, salt.
5. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, alternately with the sour cream. Stir in the vanilla.
6. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake has risen and springs to the touch.
7. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
8. Go away and read some other posts on my site while the cake cools completely. Maybe this one on Detroit.
9. Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over but not in steaming water.
10. Stir in the sour cream and sugar.
11. Spread the chocolate fudge mix on top of one of the cakes and put the other cake on top, like a sandwich. Cover the rest of the cake with fudge and decorate as desired. (At this point I was inspired to put blueberries on top for decoration and added deliciousness – but I didn’t have any, so I made do with creating a spiral pattern instead).
The original recipe says it serves eight but we shared this between 12 people as the dessert course at my husband’s birthday dinner at it was plenty. It followed a meal of vegetarian Taiwanese-Chinese cuisine at Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen in Pitt Street, Sydney. I checked in advance that I could bring the cake and they were kind enough to supply paper plates and forks and didn’t charge any “cakeage”, which I’ve heard is a growing practice at Sydney eateries.
For the main meal we had the fake Peking Duck, which you have to order ahead, plus sundry other meat-free dishes. Chinese cuisine has a great vegetarian tradition, using things like tofu and gluten to emulate various meats, and since my husband is vegetarian it was a nice treat for him. The restaurant isn’t fancy but the food is good and it’s good value – we ate loads of food and it all came to about $25 per person.
The cake was great – very easy to make, very chocolatey and suitably impressive. However, I’m not convinced the hunt is over for the ultimate chocolate cake. The original recipe says you can use creme fraiche so I might try that next time, if I can find it.
What makes your ideal chocolate cake? Do you like mud cake? Or something lighter? Let me know in the comments.
I seem to be sourcing most of my baking recipes from Leith’s Baking Bible lately. It’s a massive tome of almost 700 pages and it has everything from cakes to bread baking. There is an affiliate link below so buying the book would help support the blog, but I do genuinely recommend it – it has a hefty price tag but you won’t need any other baking books.