Introduction: Super Moist Chocolate Cake
I have been adapting this recipe for 35 years, many friends and colleagues will testify that I have now got it right! The good news is that because it is chocolate cake, it goes into a separate stomach and therefore has no calories ...and fairy dust comes in industrial quantities...
This is a four stage cake:
1. Make the filling (ganache)
2. Make the decorations whilst the filling is cooling, beating the filling from time-to-time
3. Make the cake, still beating that filling occasionally!
The hardest part is making it look nice, as you will see from the penultimate section where I present a few odd-balls and successes.
I hope you enjoy making this cake, and, as importantly, eating your cake. Make your cake and eat it, isn't that a popular saying?
Step 1: Ingredients - Your Shopping List
When you go out shopping you will need to buy the following ingredients - unless you already have a good stock in your larder/cupboards:
4 - 100g Dark Chocolate Bars (35p* each from Lidl)
2 – 100g bars of milk chocolate (39p* from lidl)
2 – 100g bars of white chocolate (39p* – lidl)
1 - 200g Cadburys Dairy Milk (or 2 or more 120g bars)(who cares about the price - it’s got to be done!)
2 – 300ml cartons Double Cream(89p* from Lidl)
Clover, (or your favorite butter substitute)
Cadburys Cocoa powder (or equivalent)
Self Raising Flour
*UK Prices correct at time of writing (10th August 2015) – other suppliers are available
For those of you watching in imperial or USA 100g is just under 4 ounces (110g is actually 4oz but in the UK most things are rounded to multiples of 100g). When I were a lad you could get a 1oz bar of chocolate for a penny (thats 1d) so over the years I've had to swap to metric, so I can sympathise with anyone not fully understanding these gram things. When we get 10 days to the week and 10 weeks to the year we will be fully metric.
Now, Cadburys is a mixed blessing. If you've never had Cadbury's chocolate then you don't know what you are missing, so you'll find out you can do without it and go around not thinking about it. If you have enjoyed said chokky but now live in America where you can't get it then I commiserate. You will need to search earnestly for a replacement, or come visit. Those of you living in Bournville, Birmingham, England ... bring it ON!!! (Coventry is not too far from said source of pleasure I'm pleased to report.) You will notice I'm not using Cadbury's Bournville Dark Chocolate, not because its not as superb as their milk chocolate, but because it is such a powerful rich flavour it takes over...so I use a cheaper, less rich, dark chocolate.
Step 2: Utensils
The hardware you will need is as follows:
3 – 8” (20cm) round cake tins
Grease-proof paper/baking parchment and scissors to cut it (...well, i used to get this from our local hardware store!)
Heavy based saucepan
Heat-proof mixing bowls able to withstand boiling water
Sieve for the flower
Whisk or fork or food mixer
Serving spoon (15ml), Tea spoon (5ml)
Nice clean paint scraper kept especially for cooking…
Palette knife or butter knife for spreading
Smooth Glass chopping board/worktop protector
Step 3: The Ganache Filling
OK, this is step 1. The filling for the cake is not a butter cream, so it is not sickly sweet, it is adult, rich and creamy. Basically you melt the chocolate, boil the cream (to make it hot so it combines with the chocolate and also to sterilise it), combine the two, allow to cool, whip as much air in to it as you can, then chill it.
Get a small bowl, and one a bit bigger.
Break the 200 grams of the cheapo milk chocolate and 200g of the cheapo dark chocolate into the smaller bowl. Pour over a teaspoon of sunflower oil. Put about 1” of hot water in the big bowl, then stand the smaller bowl in it (don’t let the water overflow into the chocolate!), then put into a microwave for about three to four minutes (..until the chocolate is runny with no lumpy bits but don’t over-cook!) (3 minutes at 650W) Leave in a warm place (like the microwave?) while you… Bring all 600ml of the cream to the boil in your heavy based saucepan….
Pour the boiling cream into the melted chocolate and stir well. Then stir again, and keep stirring gently until it is thoroughly combined. I have found it best to add half the cream to the chocolate in the bowl it was melted in - still in the water-bath - to allow it to combine easily, tip the rest of the boiled cream into a larger bowl, then scoop all the chocolate/cream out of the small bowl into the larger one, as you can see from the pictures above. Mix well to combine, so it is all the same colour - it will look awfully dark, but do not worry.
Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, just gently stirring. You can wash up the bowls etc. while you wait.
To save time you may want to make the decorations while the filling is cooling, gently whipping it from time-to-time. If it shows signs of separating STOP WHIPPING and just leave it to cool a bit more.
Once it has cooled to room temperature (i.e. about 30 minutes) whip plenty of air into the filling. It will lighten up to look like milk chocolate, as in the last image above. Only then can it go in the fridge to chill right down... like ice-cream it needs the air to keep it creamy and stop it going solid!
!!WARNING!! do not be tempted to cool the filling before you have whipped air in to it, as it will go quite solid. I ended up having to mend a friend's food mixer as they had burnt out the stator (field) coil trying to whip the filling once it had cooled - fortunately the rotor (armature) was OK as otherwise they would have needed a whole new motor.
The science bit:
The reason you are using a water bath is to mop up the heat and re-distribute it through the chocolate. The water, as a liquid, has fairly free molecules which can vibrate freely and absorb the micro-waves, as does the oil. The chocolate, as a solid, has its molecules locked firmly in place, until it melts. The water-bath slows down the melting process to stop the chocolate spoiling (for more see the section below regarding the decorations).
Whipping air into the ganache makes it softer and lighter, and makes it go further!
Step 4: The Chocolate Decorations
Here's where you decide how you are really going to decorate your cake. Chocolate "shrapnel", curls or ruffles?
The easiest is shrapnel, it requires the least skill, basically you melt dark chocolate, spread it out onto the smooth glass.marble board/worktop-saver (which has been in the freezer), mark it into strips, put it back into the freezer while the milk chocolate melts, then scrape it in chunks into a pot, which then goes into the fridge. Then the quality milk chocolate is spread out and cooled while you melt the white chocolate. After shrapnelling the milk chocolate, spread the white. Allow the white to chill while you wash up then shrapnel the white. The first image above shows a cake decorated with "shrapnel", as you can see, it can be quite good.
If you are aiming for chocolate curls, chill the glass board in the fridge and cool the chocolate in the fridge. You need it to be firm but not solid, so you may need to practice a bit. If you end up with shrapnel, you can re-melt it and try again, just remember to ensure your water-bath does not boil dry.
Dark: Break the remaining 200g of the dark chocolate into the small bowl, add 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil. Make sure there is some water in the large bowl, put the small bowl in and microwave until it is melted.
Quickly spread chocolate out on the glass board with the paint scraper – or a flat knife Put back in the fridge or freezer
Milk: Clean the small bowl, break the 200g Cadburys Dairy Milk into the small bowl, add 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil, make sure there is enough…but not too much…water in the big bowl, then microwave for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile get the dark choky out of the cooler, and with the scraper lift the choky from the glass to make interesting shrapnel or push the scraper underneath to make curls. Put in a box in the fridge. Make sure the glass is clean, put it back in the fridge/freezer.
Thoroughly melt the milk chocolate, then spread out on the glass, put back in the freezer.
White: Clean the bowl, break the 200g white chocolate into the bowl…set it melting. Take the milk chokky out of the fridge/freezer and break it from the glass with the scraper, put in another box in the fridge, put the glass back in the cooler.
Thoroughly melt the white chocolate, spread out on the glass, put back in the freezer. Sit down, take a deep breath… Take the white chocolate out of the cooler and break it from the glass with the scraper, put in another box in the fridge. Wash up! (not illustrated above....)
Right, I've deliberately left ruffles until now, because I've never managed to make them (hence why I've no pictures to offer you - sorry)! A friend of my Mum did show me once, before I had a digital camera, apparently she got the recipe/technique from a Woman's magazine (Woman's Weekly actually) and seemed to be a natural. I'll stick to curls! To make ruffles you need to "temper" the chocolate then spread it out and make the ruffles supporting the individual decorations using the spatula/clan paint scraper. The tempering process makes the chocolate more "elastic" / malleable and as it cools it goes nice and shiny.
To make ruffles you need the cool surface, such as a glass worktop protector or a marble slab, that needs to be cool but not cold. You also need an accurate thermometer, because you will need to "temper" the chocolate by heating it up to between 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) and 50C (122F), it must never go above 55C (131F) as this will cause the fats to separate and the chocolate will loose stability and texture, it may even taste burnt and it will be unusable.
As this is so much work stick to just dark chocolate and ruffle 400g (16oz) of chocolate in one melt. Heat the chocolate for 3 minutes, stir, check the temperature, and repeat in 1 minute intervals until the chokky is in the right temperature range.
Pour 2/3 of the chocolate onto the glass/marble and spread it out with knife/spatula. Use the paint scraper to scoop the chocolate back into the middle from both ends, then spread it out again. Keep spreading and scooping until the chocolate starts to thicken again, this will happen about 25C - 27C (77-81F). Then scrape it all back into the bowl with the other 1/3 (which hopefully will have cooled to about 31-32C (88-90F). Mix well, and if the result is still over 32C (90F) spread 2/3 out again on the board and repeat the cooling process again. However, if the resultant mix is below 31C (88F) then gently warm it to bring it up to 31-32C.
Now you are ready to ruffle! Put on some hygienic/clean gloves to stop the chocolate sticking to your finger and the heat from your hand spoiling the surface texture. Pour a small amount of the tempered chocolate onto your slab/glass board and spread it thinly into a rectangle using your palette/butter knife. Just as the chocolate is setting use the paint scraper to neaten the rectangle then starting at one edge, place the paint scraper under about a 5cm - 2" square or chocolate and placing your finger on top, scrape the chocolate away from you so that it ruffles up. If the ruffle looks a bit too tight you can open it a little before it sets. Repeat the ruffles along the edge and hence the entire rectangle. Repeat the process to use all the chokky. Carefully put your ruffles into a large box in the fridge to harden them and keep them safe while you make the cake.
At this stage check the ganache filling hasn't gone solid...if it has you may need to take it out of the fridge and let it warm up enough that you can whip more air into it before re-chilling.
Step 5: The Super Moist Cake
This is the real heart of the confection. Now, you may not realise that you can't actually make a chocolate flavour cake - chocolate breaks down above 55C (131F) however cakes cook at 180C (350F) which will destroy the chocolate. You can't make a cake out of chocolate (...well, you can but you won't be able to bite through it, and it will be hard to cut!)
You can make chocolate colour cakes, with cocoa or vanilla flavour, which is what everyone actually does. It is the filling that makes you think it is chocolate... this recipe uses both!
You will need:
525g (18oz) Caster Sugar - or you can get away with 350g (12oz) Caster Sugar and 175g (6oz) granulated sugar
4 large eggs or 5 medium
235 g (8oz) Self Raising Flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, sifted together with a pinch of salt
75g (3oz) Clover or other butter substitute
75g (3oz) Cocoa powder
235 ml (9fl oz) Sunflower oil
235 ml (9fl oz) Milk.
Teaspoon (5ml) vanilla essence
OK, in summary you are going to prepare the cocoa then the sugar/fat, then line the tins then make the cake.
It’s that small bowl again, measure 3 serving spoons (30ml/75g/3oz) of cocoa powder into the small bowl, with 6 oz (80g) of caster or granulated sugar. Mix to a smooth paste with a small amount of milk (about 2fl oz/75ml). Then mix in another 1-2 fl oz of milk and carefully bring to the boil in the microwave, then stir in the remains (5 fl oz/130ml) of cold milk and 1 tea spoon of vanilla essence. Set aside to cool. (Images 1-5 above)
Measure 350g (12oz) of sugar into a large mixing bowl, add 75g (3oz) Clover. Leave to come up to room temperature…. while you double line the three cake tins, then turn on the oven (190C conventional, 180C fan - 375F, 350F respectively).
The images above show you my cheating way to double-line the tins. Cut a strip of grease proof paper/baking parchment about 1/2" (1cm) wider than the tin, for each tin. Then cut 4 x 3" (8cm) wide strips for each tin. Fold each wide strip in half lengthwise, trim into a circle then divide so you have 2 rough circles for each tin hopefully as large as the inside of the tin. Then pile up the 3" strips, fold in half lengthwise, then cut in half ... for 3 tins you will now have 18 strips. Grease each tin well, then line the bottom of each tin with one of the circles. Then greasing each strip in turn on the "outside" so it sticks to the tin, overlap each strip by half its length, making sure a bit comes onto the bottom of the tin over the circle already in place. You should find you only need 8 strips. The reason you cut them in half is to make them shorter so they are more controllable and they then bend better in the two dimensions. Work your way round the tin, when you get back to the start (with the 8th strip) lift the first strip and tuck the 8th underneath. grease well in the direction the strips lay so you squash them down, not crease them up! then well grease the remaining circle on both sides and push it into the bottom of the tin to cover the all the strips and lock them in place. Now repeat for the other two tins!
Now, the fat will have warmed up and you can set-to making the cake proper...
Beat the Clover/butter substitute (I can't believe they're passing it off as...) into the sugar with your favorite fork/whisk/cake mixer.
You’ll now need four large eggs, or five medium and 9fl oz (235ml) sunflower oil. Break an egg into the mixing bowl, whip in 3fl oz of oil (approx), then blend into the creamed sugar. Repeat with the other three/four eggs…. Basically you’re aiming for a mayonnaise type blend of oil and egg to be blended into the sugar/clover mix. This is so you’re getting lots of air into the mix and keeping it all emulsified. I used a fork because I can…
Plonk the sieve over the bowl and measure in that 235 g (8oz) of self raising flower and one tea spoon (5ml) baking powder. Add a pinch of salt, then sift into the bowl... see, this method minimises the washing up!
Add the cooled cocoa/milk mix and gently fold it all together to keep the air in.
Divide between the three tins , gently level out and cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Stick in a skewer (or a small flat-bladed knife) to make sure they’re not soggy in the middle, if so give them 5 minutes more.
Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Leave one greaseproof paper round on the bottom of each cake, to stop them sticking when you stack them up while you have a breather(!!!) or let the filling warm up a bit.
Step 6: Putting It All Together - Assembling the Base
Well, we are at the interesting part. When the cakes are quite cool take the ganache filling out of the fridge to allow it to warm up slightly so it is easier to work. Beat it lightly to get it moving again.
Remove the greaseproof rounds and sandwich the cakes together with some of the filling, aim for a layer of filling about 7mm (1/4") between each cake. This will then leave you with plenty for the top and sides. Try to get it s even and flat as you can ...there is no rush at this stage, as you are laying the foundations for your masterpiece, a blank canvas if you will. You can see I worked on a breadboard (...no a wooden one, not an Arduino one - this is cooking not Fritzing!!!) this was for two reasons: its easy to turn to get a nice finish and all the mess stays on the board and not in the cake stand/container/box.
1. Chocolate buttons can sometimes have a white-ish layer; this can be polished off with some clean kitchen roll...
2. Chocolate buttons can be cut without shattering if you warm the knife gently, e.g. over a gas flame, the expression "like a hot knife through butter" springs to mind...
Step 7: Here's One (or Two) I Prepared Earlier!
As you can see, I have been making variants of this cake for some time (... I've even had a new kitchen in that time [we had green worktops, we now have brown...]) The most bizarre was a cake I labelled as "After Salvador Dali" featuring jelly babies dying of ecstasy in a chocolate lake!
The first three shown above were various birthday cakes, the fourth - the "Hill of Life" was one I took in to work for my 60th Birthday celebrations, featuring a milk chocolate cradle (with pink jelly-baby in a white chocolate "nappy"/"diaper") and at the other end a dark chocolate coffin (with a white jelly baby I adapted with a sharp knife to look skeletal) and a chocolate tomb-stone. Oddly someone took the coffin first and the cradle was left (and ended up as the centrepiece on a variant my wife took to work for her Christmas party.) The versions with the chocolate Easter Bunnies should be obvious! (Its also my Facebook banner in case you though you'd seen it somewhere before)
Step 8: Health Warning!!! (Don't Try This at Home)
This cake keeps brilliantly, you can make it a couple of days before you want to present it. You just need to keep it cool... not frozen, not chilled, just cool.
If you do make the mistake of putting it in your refrigerator you may find it goes a little too firm. Just take it out and, ensuring it is covered, allow it to come back up to room temperature...
The WARNING!!! Do not be tempted to put a slice in a bowl, sprinkle on some milk and micro-wave it until the ganache starts to melt. Do not then apply squirty cream.... or if you do, do not be tempted to eat it. My Wife's Sister says this is "to die for" ... Mortum Chocoladum? Yes, its soooo goood!!!! In fact, having eaten it, you may be tempted to try it again, just to convince yourself that you don't really like it... and what do you do when it has all gone? Everyone who tries this agrees it is just the best ...so what can you eat after it, what will compare?
As I said, don't try this at home!