If you Google “chocolate cake recipe” you get nearly 68 million results, so why on earth did I feel the need to add to that count? What did I possibly think I could show you that all those millions of people hadn’t already?
Well, if you have a tried and tested recipe that you love, probably not much. But if, like many people, you feel overwhelmed by the choice and just want a simple, cheap, tasty recipe that works, then this is it.
Let’s be clear, there are more indulgent, more complicated and definitely more expensive recipes out there and they all have their place. A special occasion torte just can’t be beaten and a black forest gateaux provides a wonderfully nostalgic treat but if you want a simple weekend cake for the family then this might just be it.
There are no clever techniques involved either, just put everything into a bowl and mix it, which cuts down on the washing up too. Using cocoa powder instead of real chocolate helps to keep the cost down and the addition of the coffee really enhances the chocolateyness of the cake. Is “chocolateyness a real word? If it’s not it should be – I’m just going to keep on using it until it appears in the dictionary.
I have had a very happy time trying to perfect this cake over recent weeks and I think that this final version is the dogs doodahs. But that is not why this is called “Winner’s” chocolate cake – the name is a whole different story.
Martin plays hockey for a very lovely team called Duchy Hockey Club here in the Duchy of Cornwall and most weeks I can be found on the side-line, come rain or shine or blizzard, cheering the boys on. (You will of course realise that, as my husband plays for this team I use the word ”boys” very loosely).
So far this season they have been winning games but not necessarily in style. They started the day 3rd in the league and I thought a little extra motivation might be called for, especially as they were playing against Truro; a club that many of them used to play for when Duchy was just a twinkle in ex-manager Kevin’s eye.
So yesterday I got up super early (for a Saturday) and baked this cake before getting on with the rest of the mornings tasks. At the pre-match briefing Chris (team captain, mate and all round lovely bloke) called me over and I broke the news to them. I had made an awesome chocolate cake for the match winners and I really, really, really didn’t want to give it away to the Truro players. As Chris pointed out – it’s cake, not humble pie!
The game started and within 12 minutes Duchy were 2-0 up, both goals scored by my lovely husband. Things were looking good for the cake. Then it all got a bit wobbly, the polo formation wasn’t working (big hole in the centre) and Truro were beginning to get more of the play as was evidenced by their first goal of the match.
A half time pep talk seem to do the trick for Duchy for about ten minutes and then it all got a bit messy again.
Neil Bradford clearly had his sights firmly on the cake and scored a storming 3rd goal for Duchy but then Truro pulled another one back and I was holding my breath all the way to the final whistle.
Phew, Duchy had won 3-2, they had moved up to 2nd place in the league and the cake was safe. We travelled back to the home pub, The Countryman at Piece, for curry, cake and post match beers (not the best combination I’ll grant you but no one seemed to mind).
The cake I made for the Duchy boys was filled and iced with dark chocolate ganache. I only finished icing it 2 minutes before we ran out the door and there was none left for a photo after the match so I had to make it all again this morning. I only had 50g chocolate left so this time I filled it with whipped cream, marbled with ganache and, if anything, I think it is even better.
Please let me know what you do with yours.
50 g /2 oz sifted Cocoa Powder
1 heaped tsp Instant Coffee Granules
90 ml Boiling Water
3 large eggs
50 ml /2 fl oz Milk
175 g / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
100 g / 4 oz Soft Butter
275 g /10 oz Golden Caster Sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
Grease and line two 20 cm / 8 inch sandwich tins (deep ones).
Sift the cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl and add the coffee granules. Pour on the boiling water and mix thoroughly until smooth and well blended. Leave to cool for a minute or two.
Add the rest of the ingredients and use an electric hand mixer to mix to a smooth batter making sure that all the butter and cocoa mixture have been incorporated.
Divide the cake mix equally between the sandwich tins and level the surface.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen. Press the cakes lightly with a finger, if it springs back it is done. Alternatively stick the point of a knife into the sponge and it should come out clean.
Leave to cool in the tins for a minute or two then remove from the tin, peel off the baking parchment and cool completely on a wire rack.
You now have 2 perfect chocolate sandwich sponges to fill and ice as you choose.
Simply sandwich together with a good quality, dark jam. Cherry works well with chocolate.
For more indulgence add whipped cream to the jam.
Chocolate butter cream:
These quantities will make enough to fill and top your cake, halve them if you only want to use it as a filling.
50g Plain Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
100g soft Unsalted Butter
200g Icing Sugar.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water.
Beat the icing sugar and the butter together until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate until evenly incorporated. If the icing is still a little stiff add a tablespoon or two of milk until you have a good spreading consistency.
A ganache is made by melting together chocolate and cream. To ice or fill a cake use equal quantities of each. These quantities will make enough to fill and ice the top and sides of the cake.
150 g Dark Chocolate (at least 70% Cocoa Solids)
150 ml Double Cream.
Break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.
Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost, but not quite, boiling.
Pour the cream over the chocolate. Leave it to sit for a minute or two until the chocolate has melted and then stir gently. If you over stir it you will add air and lose some of the glossy texture.
Use to sandwich the two sponges and then spread the rest over the top and sides of the cake.
Whipped Cream and Ganache
250 ml Double Cream
50g Plain Dark Chocolate (at least 70% Cocoa Solids)
Make a ganache as above but using only 50g chocolate and 50 ml double cream. Set aside to cool.
Whip the remaining cream in a bowl.
Spread the cut side of each sponge with a thin layer of ganache. Marble the rest of the ganache through the whipped cream and use to sandwich the two cakes together.