I’ve been sitting on this recipe for quite a while. I’m not sure why, probably because I usually make it for an occasion and it doesn’t look great to arrive to someone’s house with a cake that has already been cut! So today I’m making it for a selfish special occasion, I’m off work and tonight is the final of the Great British Bake Off. You have to have cake for the Bake Off final right? Enter – My Favourite Chocolate Cake.
I’ve called this My Favourite Chocolate Cake because that’s exactly what it is. I would never be arrogant enough to say it’s the best, the ultimate or the perfect chocolate cake. You might totally disagree with me. It is based on an Ina Garten recipe which you can find here. Don’t be put off by the cup of coffee in the cake, you don’t taste the coffee when it is baked but it gives the cake a wonderfully dark colour and texture. The cake is intensely flavoured and incredibly moist but the sponge is still light. Sorry for dropping the ‘m’ word there without warning. It is the only word to describe this cake.
I vary the filling each time I make this cake. Sometimes I use buttercream, other times I use fresh cream in the middle. Fresh cream is probably my favourite but using mascarpone cream will keep the cake fresh for longer. I’ve topped it with a chocolate ganache which you can simply pour on top for a glossy coating or whip it up slightly like I have done here for a fluffier coating.
So who else is watching Bake Off tonight? I totally caved after being put out that there was no Mary Berry. I have to say I like Prue Leith on it and I love that Noel Fielding, who I’ve been a big fan of since his Never Mind the Buzzcocks days, has gotten a great prime time role.
Useful tips & links:
- For me this is a real special occasion cake, however I would not make it for a child’s birthday cake, it may be that bit too rich. If I’m making a chocolate birthday cake for a child I usually go with the recipe from my Sponge Cake or Lemon Cake and substitute some of the flour with cocoa powder.
- Use the best quality cocoa powder that you can, some of the cheaper stuff has been sweetened and doesn’t give you quite the same flavour.
- I have used a little vanilla in each element of this cake. You don’t taste it really, it is just to enhance the flavour of the chocolate.
- Make this a real grown ups cake by adding a little rum or Baileys to the cream filling or ganache.
- If you like you can leave out the cream filling and double the ganache recipe, then use this as the filling as well as on top.
- I’ve made a clumsy attempt to explain the different ways to use chocolate ganache in the recipe but Elise from My Cupcake Addiction has a great post here on the subject.
- For more chocolate cake inspiration have a look at Melanie May’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake or Katia from Proper Food’s Sinfully Good Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.
My Favourite Chocolate Cake
- 200g of plain flour
- 200g of caster sugar
- 150g of soft dark brown sugar
- 100g of cocoa
- 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- A good pinch of salt
- 250ml of buttermilk
- 100ml of vegetable oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 200ml of hot coffee
For the Ganache Topping:
- 100g of dark chocolate
- 150ml of double cream
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- A few drops of vanilla extract
For the Mascarpone Cream Filling:
- 200g of mascarpone cheese
- 150ml of double cream
- 1 tablespoon of icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper. It is important to do this first as you want to get the cake into the oven as soon as the batter is made.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and add in the sugars. If using a stand mixer mix on low speed until combined. If doing it by hand just stir everything well together.
- In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until everything is well combined. Add the coffee and stir with a spatula just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl as you go.
- The batter is very wet but this is what will make the cake so moist. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edge of the cake is coming away from the tin and a cake tester comes out clean. Mine takes the full 40 minutes.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. It is a very soft cake so if you try to take it out of the tins too early it can break.
- While the cake is baking, make the ganache and the cream filling.
- To make the ganache, break the chocolate into very small pieces into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup until just before it starts to bubble. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces and add the vanilla. Stir it all together until the chocolate melts and you get a gorgeous glossy chocolate sauce. Put it into the fridge to cool.
- Make the mascarpone filling by whipping the double cream softly in one bowl. In another bowl whisk the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla until combined and the mascarpone has softened. Fold through the cream.
To assemble the cake:
- Put a splodge of ganache on to the cake stand or serving plate. This will hold the cake in place for you. Put one layer of the sponge on to the plate. Spoon the mascarpone filling onto the sponge and use a knife or offset spatula to gently push the filling out to edges and make an even layer.
- Gently lay the other sponge on top of the filling. Take the ganache out of the fridge and either pour it as it is over the cake for a glossy flat finish or whip it a little to make it fluffier. If you whip it, again use a knife or offset spatula to spread the chocolate ganache on top of the cake. Enjoy!