Rich Chocolate Birthday Cake
There are occasions in life when only a huge gloopy chocolate cake will do, and a special birthday is one of them. It’s our oldest member’s birthday in the Seniors Lunch Club this weekend, (98) and she is chocolate fiend anyway, so what else could it be?
This recipe is again based on Pam Corbin’s Chocolate Cake from the River Cottage Handbook No. 8, Cakes. My Seniors Lunch group in particular owe a lot to Pam Corbin and her infallible recipes, many of which I have cooked several times over. This one is a classic. The addition of the ground almonds and the yoghurt/milk mixture to the usual eggs/butter/flour/sugar just makes it particularly rich and spongy.
I iced my cake with a rich buttercream filling – but not the mousse icing recommended as I didn’t want to use uncooked egg yolks for my elderly group. I made a buttercream icing and used some fresh cream and some melted chocolate for extra gloopiness, and it was just right – fluffy and creamy but not too sweet. I kept the top simple with a straightforward water-based chocolate icing – makes it easier to transport around wrapped up in foil packets.
As a tribute to our birthday girl we played “This is Your Life.” I had provided all the other members (there are 12 of us on the audio conference call) with a leading question, along with their newsletter, so they could ask her specific questions about her life to which I knew the answers – having consulted her daughter earlier on special events, talents, funny anecdotes and things to be avoided! She was born in 1923 in the North of England, brought up strictly, knew her own mind, trained to be a pediatric nurse, did war work in a Birmingham factory, was a medal-winning talented dancer, learned the piano but gave up the violin, had two daughters, had a brother in the Royal Navy who was sunk twice in the war but survived both. What a life! It’s a privilege to know her, and we’re looking forward to celebrating her next birthday in person round the table in our Neighbourhood Centre where we normally meet. No doubt it will be chocolate cake again next year.
Rich Chocolate Cake – makes 16 portions
For the buttercream icing: 200g salted butter, 100g icing sugar, 100g dark chocolate melted, 100ml double cream, 20g cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Camp Coffee Essence
For the water-icing: 200g icing sugar, 20g cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Camp Coffee Essence
Chocolate curls to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 22 x22xcm baking tin
Whisk the butter until fluffy, adding the sugar as you go. Put the cocoa powder and drinking chocolate powder in a glass and add a tablespoon of boiling water, mix to a paste. Add this to the butter/sugar, with the whisk running. Add the eggs one at a time, and a spoonful of the flour with each, then add the rest of the flour slowly. Beat in the yoghurt/milk with the final spoons of the flour with the whisk running, then add the ground almonds, slowly.
Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake 45 minutes, until lightly browned and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a rack and leave to cool completely before slicing and icing.
I just sliced it once through the equator to give two halves, which I sandwiched together with buttercream icing.
Buttercream icing: beat the butter until creamy and getting fluffy. Add in the icing sugar (put a tea towel over the mixer as you do this to stop the whole kitchen getting covered in icing sugar wafting out) and the cocoa powder and the coffee essence. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, pour into the mixture with the whisk running and add the cream in. Keep whisking and you will get a light fluffy mix that holds together quite well. Use this to fill the middle of the cake and smooth it round the outsides too.
Water icing: Mix the coffee essence with the icing sugar until you get the right consistency – not too thin. Add a little hot water if you need to. Ice the top of the cake with this and sprinkle with chocolate curls or other decorations of your choice.
This cake will keep iced for a couple of days in a cool place. Stick a few candles in (but not 98 unless you want a serious conflagration) and enjoy!
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.