Holidays are over and a new school term is about to begin. Time to resurrect the weekly ritual of baking something for my children’s school lunches. What to bake? Chocolate Cake!
This chocolate cake is a firm family favourite and ticks all the boxes. Its moist and delicious, decadent and chocolately, virtually foolproof to make, and disappears fast. My mother used to bake it for my school lunches and I have a clear recollection of the original tattered recipe clipping from the back of a packet of Cadbury’s Bourneville Cocoa circa the nineteen sixties. Sorry Mum, the secret’s out.
This recipe is a little unconventional in that it calls for the butter, sugar and cocoa to be cooked in a saucepan first, but it works. The bicarbonate of soda makes the mixture fizz as it heats, and as children we loved to take turns stirring the pan and watching the “volcano” form. There was always a delicious sense of danger that the volcano might cause the contents of the pan to overflow. It’s funny how history repeats itself, my children love to make the volcano too! I was very tempted to name this the Chocolate Volcano Cake but thought that might be too confusing . In my mind this conjures up images of another type of equally delicious chocolate cake – Chocolate Molten Lava Cake .
I’ve used this recipe to make cakes of all shapes and sizes; cupcakes, layer cakes, round cakes, square cakes and once even doubled the ingredients and tipped the mix into my roasting tin to make a cake large enough to feed a hungry horde of teenage boys. It’s adaptable and works every single time. No wonder its my go to recipe when I need to whip up something in a hurry.
Whilst the original version of this recipe called for the cake to be iced with a chocolate buttercream, I’ve tweaked the recipe substituting the buttercream with a topping of melted dark chocolate. Why? For no other reason than I can’t always be bothered to make buttercream. The chocolate topping is an easy cheat, and delicious to boot.
Simply the Best Chocolate Cake
For the Cake
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150 g butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
For the Chocolate Topping
200g block dark chocolate; chopped into pieces
3 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
PREHEAT oven to 180C
GREASE and line a 20cm square or round cake tin.
COMBINE water, sugar, butter, cocoa and bicarbonate soda in a saucepan and bring to a simmer but do not boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. You will need to watch the pan like a hawk at this point as the bicarbonate of soda will cause the mixture to fizz, keep stirring to stop it from overflowing.
TRANSFER mixture to a bowl and leave to cool for 30 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour and mix well.
POUR into the greased and lined cake pan. Be warned, the mixture will seem a little runnier than a regular cake batter.
BAKE in a moderate oven 180°C (not fanforced) for 50 minutes or until cooked. Centre rack position is best.
COOL for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
PLACE chocolate and olive oil into a clean and completely dry jug and microwave on low for about 90 seconds. Stir every 30 seconds until melted. Pour over cake and refrigerate until firm.