Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Cake

I'm an absolute lover of chocolate, maybe I'd even go as far as saying I'm a chocoholic. Whenever I see a chocolate cake I always find it too tempting to say no to a small slice. A chocolate cake also happens to be one of my favourite cakes to bake because it's simple, quick to bake, and what I love most is the heavenly aroma of melting chocolate wafting throughout the kitchen. This isn't a recipe for a heavy fudge cake or even a mud cake but instead it strikes a balance between being indulgent, while being surprisingly light in texture. It's what I call a good Weekend Cake - you know, the kind of chocolate cake made for a lazy, leisurely Sunday afternoon sitting comfortably alongside a pot of tea while catching up with family or friends.

As with everything in cooking - or even baking - a chocolate cake recipe is only as good as the ingredients you use but that doesn't mean you have to pay a small fortune to bake it. Take the Green & Blacks Organic Cocoa Powder for example, it's the best and surprisingly it's a lot less expensive than other leading brands. Similarly when it comes to dark chocolate, there are so many really great varieties of dark chocolates to choose from including: Valrhona and Callebaut at the luxury end of the market, to a less expensive but still good quality Lindt at the more reasonably priced end of the market. Of course not forgetting good quality Irish Kerrygold butter over margarine which will always give you better results when baking!




Ingredients:

- 225ml Glenisk Organic Milk
- 150g Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa)
- 1 Vanilla Pod Split
- 225g Unsalted Butter
- 275g Caster Sugar
- 85g Cocoa Powder (sifted)
- 225g Plain Flour
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- ½ Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- Pinch Sea Salt
- 150g Free Range Eggs (3 Large Eggs)

Filling*:

- 250ml Glenisk Organic Cream
- 75g Icing Sugar
- 50g Green & Blacks Organic Cocoa Powder (sifted)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Line the base of two 20cm / 8 inch cake tins with melted butter and greaseproof paper before lightly dusting the edges with flour. Measure all your ingredients out placing the baking powders, cocoa powder and flour into one bowl. 

2. Over a gentle heat, warm the milk in a pan to the shivery stage before taking it off the heat and place the split vanilla pods into the pan allowing it to infuse. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, melt the chocolate with a pinch of sea salt in a Pyrex bowl ensuring the water is not touching the end of the bowl while keeping the heat to a simmer.

3. Sift the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda three times onto a clean sheet of greaseproof paper. Sifting the mixture three times will incorporate the cocoa powder and add air into the mixture giving the cake a good rise during baking and a nice dark finish.

4. Cream the butter really well with an electric hand whisk or KitchenAid before adding the sugar in stages until pale and light in texture. Add in an egg one-by-one to the mixture, adding a tbsp of flour to each addition to prevent the mixture from curdling. Add in the sugar in stages, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time and gently fold in the cocoa flour mixture.

5. Gently fold in the melted chocolate with the milk and divide the mixture evenly into the two cake tins and bake for 35 - 40 mins. Half way through baking, switch the tins to ensure an even bake throughout. Test the cake by sticking the tip of a sharp knife in the centre and if it comes out clean; it's baked. If not don't worry, ovens vary so just pop the cake back into the oven for a further 5-10 mins. 

6. Allow the cake to cool completely. Meanwhile make the filling by gently whisking the cream with the icing sugar until it reaches soft peaks. Ensure the cream is only slightly whipped as the cocoa powder will thicken the mixture. Alternatively, fill the cake with chocolate ganache (recipe below) and double the recipe to ice the cake completely (great idea for a birthday cake).

* Alternative Filling - Chocolate Ganache:

Melt 250g chocolate and slowly pour in 250g of cream stirring continuously to avoid splitting. Leave to cool for at least 2 hours. Simple.