A grown-up chocolate cake for Paul
We celebrated my friend, Paul’s birthday at Hawksmoor last week with a top-notch evening of delicious steaks and wine, attentive service and fantastic company.
For his big day, I wanted to make Paul a special cake, a grown up cake. I know Paul through K as they used to work together. Like us, Paul loves food but is also a dedicated forager and volunteer at his local city farm. Over the years, we have been lucky recipients of his homemade piccalilli, tomato chutney, jam and countless meals – all made with love and dedication. His birthday cake had to be seriously kick-a** good.
Judging from the positive comments and groaning stomachs after our meal, I think this cake from Tea with Bea fit the bill perfectly. Rich sumptuous dark chocolate cake with a luxurious chocolate fudge icing.
Happy birthday, dear Paul.
Bea’s Ultimate Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Icing
Bea’s recipe is for 24 large cupcakes or an 8inch round cake. I used 2x8inch round sandwich cake pans for this cake and adjusted the baking time accordingly.
To make the fudge icing
- 250ml whipping cream
- 65g golden syrup
- 350g high-quality dark/semi-sweet chocolate (I used Green & Black’s Organic 70%), chopped into pea-sized pieces
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
- Put the cream and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Put the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. As soon as the cream mixture has come to a boil, immediately pour it over the chocolate. Set aside for 1 minute.
- Using a small balloon whisk placed in the middle of the bowl, stir with very small motions. Don’t stray from the middle of the bowl.
Bea’s tip: You are making an emulsion by taking a large amount of chocolate at the bottom of the bowl and slowly adding small amounts of cream to it. Stirring in larger motions will incorporate more cream than needed, breaking the emulsion and resulting in a dull, grainy mixture. Do not incorporate air, as that will result in unwanted air bubbles and shorten the life of the icing.
- Keep stirring with small motions – it will look like nothing is happening until eventually a very shiny, thick, glossy mixture forms. Gradually stir in wider motions to incorporate more cream into the emulsion until it’s fully combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and butter and mix until well combined. Set aside to let the chocolate stiffen into a firm consistency before using (I allowed it to cool down before popping into the fridge for about 15 minutes).
To make the cake
- 120g natural cocoa powder
- 250ml boiling water
- 125ml milk
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 275g dark brown soft sugar
- 165g caster sugar
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 280g plain flour
- 1 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of/baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and baseline two 20cm/8inch round sandwich cake pans.
- Put the cocoa powder in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
- Using a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture (about 10 minutes on my Kitchenaid mixer at speed 4). Turn the mixer speed down a notch and slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again.
- In another bowl, combine the flour and bicarbonate of/baking soda and sift twice.
- Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add half the cocoa/milk mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the cocoa/milk mixture. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pans.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the cake pans for 10 minutes.
- Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cakes, then remove from the pans. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.
- Spread a little of the fudge icing over the first layer of the cake and top with the second layer. Spread the remaining icing all over the cake using a spatula.
Recipe adapted from Tea with Bea
Yields 1 large cake serving 8-12 persons