Tag Archives: economical

It’s snowing…only chocolate cake will do

5 Feb

Nowadays, chocolate cakes are usually made with melted chocolate. But back in the days when I started baking from my mom’s old recipe books, chocolate cakes were always made with cocoa. I really have no idea why this is – perhaps it was  just a more economical way of baking.

I’ve decided to get back to the old cocoa-based recipes and had a go at one today. A nice heart-warming choccie cake is perfect on a snowy day.  Actually it’s perfect on any sort of day but I needed an excuse. Or a reason.

I use cocoa in two ways – either by mixing it into a paste or by removing an equivalent amount of flour and replacing it with the powdered cocoa. The paste, I think, gives a richer-tasting result.

These quantities will make one large round cake (about a 23cm tin) or a rectangular tray bake – use a brownie tin – or divide the mixture between two 20cm round tins and sandwich together. Today, I simply made one large round cake.

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons cocoa (proper cocoa, NOT sweetened drinking chocolate!)
5 tablespoons boiling water
230 g butter
230 caster sugar
280 g self raising flour
2 teasppons baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons milk

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and prepare the tin or tins with baking paper.
  2. Place the cocoa in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Mix to a smooth paste – it may take some time to incorporate all the lumpy bits but persevere. Leave the bowl on a window sill to cool down.
  3. Chuck all the other ingredients in a mixer and beat to a smooth batter. Don’t you just love a beat and mix cake? I do.
  4. If you don’t have a standard mixer or a food processor you can do it quite easily in a large bowl. Beat the butter first with a wooden spoon, then beat in the sugar, and finally everything else. Give it a good thrashing to get it smooth and light.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin or tins and bake for 40 minutes (one cake) or 30 minutes if using two tins. Test for done-ness but remember, slightly undercooked is better than overcooked where a cake like this is concerned.
  6. Turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
chocolate cake
ICING
For one cake – 200 g icing sugar, 100 g butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.
For two cakes, sandwiched together –  300 g  icing sugar, 150 g butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder.
2 tablespoons apricot jam
METHOD
  1. Weigh out the icing sugar, then remove 2 (or 4) tablespoons from it.
  2. Add 2 (4) tablespoons cocoa to the icing sugar.
  3. Place in blender with the softened butter and whizz until smooth.
  4. Warm the apricot jam in the microwave for 30 seconds, then brush over the surface of the cooled cake. This is helpful in two ways – it makes the cake nice and moist, and forms a crumb-free barrier between the cake and the icing. I remember an old auntie telling me about brushing cake surfaces with apricot jam and it works brilliantly! Nobody ever tucks in and says, “Ooh, this chocolate cake tastes of apricot jam!”  they just say, “Mmmmmsnarfelnomnom.”
  5. When the jam has cooled on the cake, slap on the icing and spread it around with a palette knife. I like to flick up little peaks with the tines of a fork, then sprinkle on chocolate sprinklies for added overkill.
This cake is best eaten on the day it’s baked. That’s a joke actually, because it’s always eaten on the day it’s baked. I’m sure it will keep in an airtight tin for a couple of days. 😉

Chocolate cake

Banana Loaf – what’s not to love?

15 Nov

You know how there are always two or three bananas that stay in the fruit bowl and turn mushy and black? You ignore them for a day or two and then you throw them away? Terrible waste! But no need for it to ever happen again, because soft and squidgy bananas with seriously blackened skins are ideal, nay, perfect for banana loaf.  To make it even more wonderful, this is a really easy cake to make, fantastically economical, and yes, my favourite thing – minimal washing up!

INGREDIENTS

120 g butter, softened
1 cup golden caster sugar
3 large,very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 large eggs
2 cups plain flour
65 ml warm water
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a loaf tin.

  1. Cream the butter and sugar really well until light and creamy.
  2. Stir in the mashed bananas, and beat thoroughly.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time and blend well.
  4. Stir in the flour and the baking powder.
  5. Dissolve the bicarb in the water and stir it into the mixture.
  6. Now pour this batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.
  7. You should have only one big bowl to wash up, along with a wooden spoon and some measuring spoons. And to make life even simpler may I recommend the gorgeous loaf tin liners which I buy from John Lewis (others are also available!) – these make lining the tin and subsequent washing up a doddle.
  8. This sort of cake needs no embellishment in the way of icing sugar or anything else. Just enjoy a slice, still slightly warm,  with a cup of  tea. Perfect.
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