Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Chocolate cake

I know it looks a bit weird, you'll see why further down

This is a really fantastic chocolate cake. Like something you might buy in a shop, which is my highest accolade. It's dark and rich but also springy and light at the same time. Bliss.

It's also very, very easy. So imagine my shame when I managed to fuck the whole thing up anyway by picking the wrong-size cake tin, meaning it bubbled up and went everywhere and then generally collapsed and looked odd. Stupid me.


Anyway, it's easy peasy to avoid this kind of disaster - use the right sized tin, which ought to be 2 x 23cm sandwich tins or 1 x 23cm sandwich tin if you're doing this in half quantities.

So here we go - don't be spooked by the long list of ingredients.

Chocolate cake

225g plain flour
350g sugar
85g cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5tsp bicarb soda
2 eggs
250ml milk
125ml veg oil - I used groundnut
2 tsp vanilla extract (I think this is too much - I think vanilla essence makes things taste a bit plasticky - next time I will halve this...)
250ml boiling water

1 Put everything except the boiling water into a bowl and stir until smooth

2 Gradually add the boiling water and incorporate, stirring each sploosh in - it'll end up very wet and this is normal.

3 And that's it! Pour into your appropriately-sized tin or tins and bake for between 30-35 mins at 180C, or 170C for fan ovens

What you do with this after cooking is up to you. You can stick it together with a chocolate ganache if you like (I don't like chocolate ganache with chocolate cake... bit sicky... which is why I haven't done it) or with cream, or top it with cream and fruit, or sandwich together with raspberry jam or whatever, really. But it's quite interesting on its own.


  1. Not only is is springy and light, and dark and rich, but it has stars on it too. How could it be better??

  2. That looks deliciously dark and incredibly easy, which I like! One question, did you use groundnut because of it's flavour? (Is it nutty???) I've never bought or used it before as I usually only have olive oils and sunflower.

  3. Yes yes piss easy.

    Aha, no - groundnut oil is flavourless. But it's a good question.

    I'm sure it's interchangeable with sunflower - but not olive oil, obviously, which has a flavour... xxx although it might make a very interesting cake...?

  4. I love this! I'm going to try it (AND the polenta cake) really soon. It looks quite easy and delicious.
    Ok, I just wanted to say that I'm devoted to your blog, even though a third of the ingredients are hard for me to get since I live in Argentina. There's a real homey feeling to it and I think that's pretty unique for a blog. Thanks!

  5. Do not use olive oil in puddings!! I made this mistake once in a flourless chocolate pudding and oh god, it was awful!
    Stick to sunflower, vegetable or ground nut!
    - I've only started my blog recently but am trying to add as many recipes as I can!

  6. Mmmm this cake looks delicious. I love the spillover bits, perfect snack for the cook (and calorie-free of course, since crumbs don't count).

    I find that chocolate cakes made with oil instead of butter have such a tender texture. I've made a chocolate cake before that uses hot coffee, and it was really good!

    Going to make your orange polenta cake this afternoon, to have for tea tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes x

  7. I've got a question that is probably really stupid, but hey ho. When recipes say to use plain flour with baking soda and bicarb, would self-raising work as well? Or does using the plain with the other bits and bobs make a difference?

    Really love your blog, gives me lots of hope for my own cooking attempts (mainly just planned but occasionally happen). x

  8. Hi Helen

    That's a really good - and not stupid - question. But I'm not sure what the answer is.

    I have in the past used baking powder with plain flour because I didn't have self-raising, but not the other way around.

    What I would say, although I mess about with recipes and substitute different things all the time, there must be a reason for the double powder-usage, especially in a cake like this, which is so fluffy.

    I don't think using self-raising would affect the taste at all, but it might make a difference to the texture, in that you might just get a slightly more dense cake, and I can't see really what the disaster with that is.


  9. Yum. Just made it and stuffed the middle with whipped cream and black cherry compote! Just for information, I had only about 10g of cocoa left so added in 120g of 70% lindt chocolate and only added in 60ml of oil and it worked perfectly. (At this point, I might add that it came out the oven at 7:40 and is already half finished!) nom nom nom. Thanks for the recipe! xx

  10. Ive just made this cake - twice in one weekend. Need advice. The cake tastes amazing - sponge is fantastic but when its cooking its cracking on the top. Have tried it in the size tins you have stated and tried it as two sandwiched together and as one single cake. Both sponges excellent, but a very cracked top. Hasnt sunk, just cracked. Is this normal?

    Loving the blog xx

  11. Yes that is normal - not sure why, but I've had that happen to me before with very wet cake mixes. It's one of the reasons that these sorts of cakes get covered in ganache - to hide the cracking. But personally I think it looks charming x

  12. Excellent - thanks for that! Really think its possibly the best chocolate sponge recipe Ive tasted. I think I might have posted that question twice - think too much chocolate has gone to head!

    Thanks for advice xx

  13. I have a question: I just made this cake and it shrunk quite a bit when I took it out of the oven. That doesn't seem to have happened to you.I used the pan size you recommended. What could have gone wrong? Oven temperature?
    Besides, it smells kind of funny. I used sunflower oil because there's no groundnut oil here. I haven't eaten yet, though.

  14. Esther,

    I've been reading your blog for ages but have never commented before. I felt I had to comment this time because this cake was SO delicious. My Dad's birthday is on the 26th, and because of all the other cooking that goes on at Christmas and then for his birthday, I'm always on the look-out for a celebration cake that is still really easy to whip up among the Christmas / Boxing Day / Birthday kitchen chaos. This cake was a dream - so fluffy and light, really tender and chocolatey, but above all, EASY to make. With cherries in kirsch and whipped cream in the middle, it was a triumph!

    Thsnks so much for posting this recipe. I hope you had a great Christmas and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

  15. Noelia - what a disaster you've had! Without being there, I'm not sure what the "smells funny" means exactly, but I don't think it can be the sunflower oil. It's possible that you, like me, aren't crazy about vanilla extract and that's what's bothering you.

    The shrinkage is almost definitely to do with your oven. If you haven't been too traumatised by the cake this time and want to give it another go, bake it for the same amount of time at 10C lower than the temp you used first time. x

  16. Hello!

    I have a pot of leftover (hot) chocolate and ginger sauce in the freezer waiting to be used, I think this cake may be the one to use it with! Can it be eaten while still hot?

    Love the blog btw!


  17. Natalie - you absolutely CAN eat this hot, in that you can do absolutely whatever you like with your own pudding - but you're not really supposed to, it's not really designed for that.

    Also, this cake is quite rich and with great respect, I think chocolate and ginger sauce might be slight chocolate overkill (in as much as this is possible).

    I think your chocolate and ginger sauce would go much better with the orange and polenta cake that I posted either the day before this or the day after, I can't remember. Sorry, I know that's annoying. That's what my mum does. Rather than just answering a question she sort of doesn't answer it and then pisses all over any plan you've set your heart on.

    Only kidding my mum's great.

  18. I have never baked a cake in my life but this chocolate cake was a bloody fantastic success. Made it for a friend's birthday and everyone was mega impressed. Topped it with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. I can't remember the last time I've felt so bleedin' chuffed with myself so big big thanks xxx

  19. Things about this recipe that I fucked up:

    1) used the wrong sized tin, obs
    2) ran out of plain flour so threw some self-raising flour in
    3) used sugar that somehow had loads of dried chilli in
    4) opened the oven halfway through the cooking time
    5) took the cake out of the oven too early

    Despite my best efforts, it was delicious