ultimate chocolate cake

So I’ve released myself from revision for a little while to write! I’m currently two exams in; they’ve been ok so far but the ones I’ve been really dreading are happening next week. If you’re revising right now, my heart goes out to you; I feel your pain!

I made this cake for my housemate’s birthday on Tuesday. We can’t turn on the main lights in our kitchen because one set is sparking, so the photographs are a bit dodgy – I apologise! I ended up decorating it on top of the tumble dryer in our utility room just so I could see what I was doing! Ah, student life.

This is the same basic recipe as the chocolate orange cake, but just ALL CHOCOLATE. It’s decadent, fudgey and a very effective stress-buster.

Ingredients:

Cakes:

  • 340g plain flour
  • 525g caster sugar
  • 128g cocoa
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder
  • 2.25 tsp bicarb soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 375ml milk
  • 188ml vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 375ml just-boiled hot water

Chocolate buttercream:

  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 5 tbsp cocoa
  • approx. 5 tbsp hot water/milk

Chocolate glaze:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter

Chocolate letters:

  • 5-6 pieces of white chocolate
  • 100s and 1000s (optional)

Method:

Firstly, weigh your mixing bowl without anything in it – this is how to make sure the layers are all the same height! Line three circular cake tins with greaseproof paper.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced). Measure out all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda + bicarb) and sift them into a large mixing bowl.
Beat the eggs in a separate jug; add the milk, oil and vanilla and give them a stir. Put the kettle on, add the wet to the dry and mix with electric beaters until smooth and combined.
Finally, add the hot water to the cake batter a little at a time, mixing well between additions. By the time you’ve added all of it, it will be very runny.
Now, weigh your mixing bowl again. Subtract your first measurement, and divide what’s left by three. This is a rough guide for how much mix to put in each tin – for me this was approximately 720g.
Pour/measure the cake mix into the tins and put them into the oven, preferably on the same shelf. Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking with a skewer. Annoyingly, mine were all ready at different times! When they’re done, take them out and leave them to cool.
Beat the butter for the buttercream before adding a little sieved icing sugar. Be warned, it will go everywhere {I inhaled a considerable amount, which isn’t much fun}, so it’s good to try and cover the bowl with a tea towel as you start to mix. Continue to sieve in more icing sugar and cocoa, and adding milk or hot water to thin it out. The more you beat it, the fluffier it will get.
Put your first layer on a serving plate and spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Add a second layer, a little more buttercream, and finally your last one. Next, coat the whole thing in a thin layer of buttercream {the crumb coat} and leave it somewhere cool to set – you should still have a considerable amount of icing left for later.
Now for the glaze: melt together the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth and glossy. Leave to cool on the side.
If you fancy making chocolate letters, melt a few squares of white chocolate over the hot water and transfer the melted chocolate to a small sandwich bag. You can put the bag into the freezer for a couple of minutes to make it easier to pipe, but be wary of it turning into a solid block again – not so easy to pipe! Snip off one of the corners and pipe letters onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. I wanted them to be able to stand up on their own, so I piped a couple more layers on top to make them thick enough. I also dug out my 100s and 1000s and got a few to stick 😛 They’re not particularly neat but I liked the effect of them standing up by the candles.
By the way, Squishla is a nickname, not my housemate’s proper name 😛
Ok: assembly time. Retrieve the cake and apply a second coat of buttercream, making the edges as smooth as possible. Pour the glaze on top – mine was a bit more solid than it should’ve been, so it didn’t really ‘run’ down the sides as I would’ve liked! Finally, stick the chocolate letters on top once they’ve set and add candles if you’re celebrating.
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