I am not good at making things look pretty. I mean this in a very general sense, not just with food. I am a haphazard, cumbersome, chaotic kind of person and it bleeds into more or less everything I do. I don’t really have a delicate touch and I don’t have a very good “eye” for anything. This slightly gets in the way when you start trying to take attractive photos of food. Everything I make tends to look kind of unappetising (not really the idea you want to conjure up when serving food). The wedding cake experience made me seriously want to hone my non-existent beautifying skills, so I’m on a mission! This cake is an amalgamation of about four different recipes and a made up frosting. I saw a picture once in a food magazine of a cake that was so black it didn’t look natural and a frosting so white it might as well have been bleached. The contrast between the perfect white icing and then cutting into this tar- like fudginess was so awesome I decided to try and imitate it.
Chocolate fudge cake. You can’t really argue with that, can you? Actually I have one friend who, despite being impossibly amazing in almost every way, does not like chocolate. He’d probably argue with that. But no one’s perfect. That is his flaw. Forgetting my weird chocolate hating friend, I am pretty sure that the decadent satisfaction of chocolate fudge cake makes most people smile a little wider. Chocolate fudge cake plus salted caramel frosting probably makes most people smile a little wider until they realise that all of their teeth have fallen out from excessive sugar consumption. So close your mouth, keep eating cake. It’s all good.
In researching chocolate cake recipes, it can be hard to decide the one that’s right for you. Three eggs here, twice the sugar there, cocoa powder versus melted chocolate. Basically the only solution is to bake ALL the cakes and pick a winner. I decided long ago that chocolate cake isn’t worth eating unless there’s sour cream in the batter. It does so many wonderful things. The most important of which being to add extra moisture to the sponge, and to cut through some of the sweetness with a cheeky tang. The recipe below is so sweet it’ll make your spine tingle so it’s good to have just one tiny little element of something else.
For the cake:
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light brown muscavodo sugar
50g coco powder (probably worth getting nice stuff…)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
142ml sour cream (or buttermilk, or crème fraiche)
1 tbsp of really good vanilla (never get essence, it’s synthetic and disgusting)
125ml oil (like corn or vegetable)
300ml chilled water
200g dark chocolate (good stuff too is poss)
For the frosting:
I am a horrible, lazy person and I bought a tin of Carnation caramel because I don’t have the patience to make my own, but if you want to go right ahead and then you can feel all proud ‘n stuff.
Also, tinned caramel is VERY sweet. I have not added any other sweetener to this because it definitely does not need it. I had a piece of cake I a cafe earlier in the day and it was baked fine. The cake was moist and the frosting was creamy but all I could taste was sugar. It hurt my brain. That is not what a cake should be. It’s a sweet thing, yes, but you want to be able to identify the flavours you’re actually showing off, not just sugar.
1 tin Carnation caramel
600g full fat cream cheese
1 tbsp good vanilla
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp salt (this is to taste. The last thing you want to do is add so much salt to it that you’ve ruined it straight away. However, if you want it to have a really salty punch, obviously just add a little more)
So preheat the oven to 180/ 160 fan and butter and line to 20cm sandwich tins.
Melt the buttter gently and set aside to cool.
In one bowl mix the flour, sugars, coco, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and vanilla.
In ANOTHER big bowl, mix the melted butter and oil, then add the water.
Add the dry ingredients to this and mix it gently. Then add the egg mix.
Cut the good chocolate into small chunks (or buy choc chips!) and stir them into the batter.
Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 50 minutes until a skewer comes out all batter-free.
Let them cool in their tins for a while, then turn them out to cool completely. Pop them in the fridge for a bit and when they’re cooled good ‘n proper and really sturdy, cut each cake in half again so you have four.
To make the frosting, simply whip up the cream cheese, then gradually whip the caramel into it. Add the vanilla, salt and cornflour. Taste it, make sure it’s got enough of everything you need and let it sit I the fridge for a bit before assembling the cake. Get your palette knife (and if you don’t own one, go to the shops and buy one because they are the most glorious invention on the face of the earth) and frost him!
You gonna need a strong cuppa tea with this beast and probably a visit to the doctor.