Those weeks after the comfortable and snug carpet of being a student is yanked from underneath your feet have to be the worst. Followed closely by realising that you won’t be getting student discounts ever again so you become broker than you thought you were because everything costs an arm and a leg. Plus the daily panic of not finding a job takes its toll and before you know it you’ve lost your mojo. Things I used to enjoy doing like running, working out, eating well and baking became somewhat boring to me and realising that I didn’t care as much added to the gloominess.
But somehow I became happy again and things started to fix themselves. I say if you’re going through that dark phase, keep pushing, keep going and remember that trying a little bit is better than not trying at all. So this cake signifies a celebration of happiness (and of my friend Naomi’s birthday).
This cake is definitely a massive upgrade from the Mint & Chocolate Cake I made a few years back. In comparison, the texture is moister, the chocolate taste is richer and the process is 1000% simpler. If you need a chocolate cake recipe, do not follow any recipe but this one. Hey, I’m just looking out for you. It holds its shape perfectly well too and has minimal crumbs when frosting. Honestly it’s perfect.
A few tips when making this. If you can, use soft dark brown sugar. I promise you, it will add a slight coffee-y, toffe-y, caramel-y taste to the cake which is delicious. I know other recipes tell you to add espresso which I don’t think is necessary if you use brown sugar. Also use the microwave when heat is required, it will save you a lot of time and effort. Lastly sift all the dry ingredients. Okay I’ll stop yapping now and give you the damn recipe.
500g soft dark brown sugar
3 tbsp vanilla extract
400g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
560ml whole milk
120g cocoa powder
For the ganache
280ml double cream
300g dark chocolate
1. Preheat your oven to 220C and line your tins. Heat your milk in the microwave for 4 minutes then slowly pour and stir into the cocoa powder as if you were trying to make a paste. Once it’s incorporated, set aside.
2. Beat the butter on the highest setting for 5 minutes, until it looks pale, fluffy and slightly silky. Add the sugar and extract then beat for 5-7 minutes. It should look fluffy and taste incredible.
3. Now add the eggs one at a time whilst mixing then pour in all of the dry ingredients and mix. Lastly pour in the milk and cocoa powder mixture and mix gently for about a minute until well incorporated. As long as you’ve followed the recipe, don’t worry about the mix being watery.
4. Divide the mixture into 4 tins weighing 450g each.
5. Bake for 25 minutes. Forget the toothpick method. You’ll know it’s ready when you pat it and you hear it squish under your fingers. Or when the edges of the cake shrink from the tin. It’s all about your senses baby!
6. Take out the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then flip it out and leave to cool completely.
7. Make the ganache by heating the cream in the microwave for 4 minutes. Add the chocolate pieces and shove it back into the microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk until the mixture looks utterly and completely chocolatey then leave to cool completely. Mine took ages to thicken so I put it into my mixer, whisked for about 3 minutes then left it in the freezer for 10 minutes. It came out nice and spreadable.
8. Layer and crumb-coat the cake with the ganache, stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes then frost it properly. To get the dripping effect, melt a little ganache and let it cool before pouring it on top of the cake then pushing it to the edges with a spatula/spoon.
Obviously not everyone wants a six-layered cake so just split the recipe by half and you’ll get two 8 inch cakes and then some which you can use for cupcakes. Bon appétit!
What’s your go-to cake on gloomy days?