Friday, 28 November 2008

Chocolate Birthday Cake

So, after I made the Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Cake, I wanted to do a more traditional, heavier chocolate cake. Another dessert-type cake, but I wanted to go for a richer cake this time.

I couldn't believe that when looking for chocolate cake recipes I didn't go straight to Nigella. I hereby apologise to all my Nigella cookbooks, I have seen the error of my ways. I have been reminded that for whatever the occasion, Nigella has a chocolate cake for it. Unfortunately, they are sometimes a little bit on the fancy side in terms of ingredients and on this occasion I didn't want to go out, so I chose this simple chocolate cake from How to Eat.

Nigella calls this cake solid, and she is completely right - it is solid to the point of fudginess. I wished I had thought to heat it slightly in the microwave, I think that a little bit of melting would have made a world of difference. I found the cake tremendously tasty and beautifully chocolatey. The ganache was a wonderful way to finish it and the flavours in the cake were perfectly matched. I just found the texture of the cake to be way too solid (that is the perfect word!) to eat more than a few bites.

The fantastic bit about the cake was how easy it was to make. All there was to it was stirring. I was very much sold on layers the day I made the cake, so I halved the recipe below and baked it in three small loaf tins. In hindsight, I should have trimmed the cake before applying the ganache, but I was trying to ice this cake in the two minutes before we were to go out for dinner while talking on the phone (because the phone rang at the last minute) and trying to get changed. So now it's interestingly shaped.

I would be interested to try the cake in a proper-sized pan. I am wondering if I didn't adjust the temperature properly for the three tins and maybe the cake was overcooked. It's such and easy recipe that I'm sure it won't be long before I try it again.

Birthday Cake
from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson

for the cake
225g self-raising flour
30g best cocoa
200g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
200g condensed milk
100g best quality dark chocolate
2 eggs, beaten

for the chocolate ganache
250g best quality chocolate
250ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Put the kettle on. Butter a 20cm springform cake tin (or 2 sandwich tins) and line the base with baking parchment.

Sieve the flour, cocoa and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar, cocoa, butter, condensed milk, 100ml just boiled water and the chocolate broken into small pieces in a saucepan and heat until melted and smooth. Then, using a wooden spoon, stir this robustly but not excitably into the flour-cocoa mixture and, when all is glossily amalgamated, beat in the eggs.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-45 minutes; less if you're using the shallower sandwich tins. When it's ready, the top will feel firm.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto the rack.

When completely cool, split in half horizontally or, if using the sandwich tins, stick the two cakes together.

To make the ganache, chop up the chocolate and put it in a medium sized bowl, preferably a wide shallow one rather than a pudding basin shape. Heat the cream to boiling (but do not let it boil) and pour it over the chocolate. Leave for 5 minutes and then, using an electric mixer, beat until combined, coolish, thickish and glossy. You want it thin enough to pour but thick enough to stay put. At this stage, think on the ganache as somewhere between a sauce and an icing. Later, it will set hard. Pour some over the cut side of one half of the cake, using a palate knife to spread, and then plonk the other half on top. Pour the rest of the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake, letting it drap over.

Leave for a couple of hours or until set.

This is the second of my entries in the Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge!


  1. Lorraine's right. It DOES look like 3 giant tim tams stacked on top of each other :D Glorious!

  2. It must be good since it features condensed milk. My mum used to buy tubes of it for camping and then have to stop us girls from drizzling it straight into our mouths.

  3. Thank you so, so much for posting this recipe. My daughter requested a chocolate cake for her third birthday and I'd made this one for my hubby and it was beautiful so I wanted to do it for her. Unfortunately we've just moved house and my copy of How To Eat wasn't packed with the rest of my recipe books. Imagine my chagrin! So I was stoked to find this. I've read some of your other posts and I must say you're a girl after my own heart. Will definitely keep reading your blog.