Tag Archives: flapjacks. easy

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.


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


  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
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
  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


Easy-peasy Posh Flapjacks

29 Oct

There’s something so homely and wholesome about flapjacks. They’re perfect for a rainy afternoon, they even smell warm, and it’s easy to be convinced that they’re really rather healthy. All those oats and good nutritious things in them – we’ll just keep quiet about the butter and the sugar and the syrup, ok?

Like many of my favourite recipes this one has evolved from several others and I think I’ve finally cracked the combination of wet to dry ingredients. I don’t like my flapjacks too dry or crumbly, I prefer them with a  moist stickiness. And I adore the fact that I can make them with the bare minimum of fuss and washing up. The mark of a great recipe 🙂


260 g butter
120 g golden syrup
100g dark brown sugar
250g porridge oats
40 g pistachio nuts
60 g dessicated coconut
60 g sultanas (or cranberries)


Grease and line a 30cm long tin, the sort you’d use for  brownies. Preheat the oven to 190C.

Place the butter and the syrup in a large bowl and melt them together in the microwave.

Place all the dry ingredients in another large bowl and mix them together really well with your hands. This helps to break down the lumps in the sugar and also, it’s fun.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until beautifully combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top, and bake for 25 minutes. It will still feel soft when you take it out of the oven but will firm up as it cools.

Leave it to cool on a wire rack. After about ten minutes, while it’s still in the tin, cut into squares, but leave until completely cool before removing.

If the addition of pistachios isn’t posh enough for you, you can drizzle over some melted chocolate, which takes it to a whole new dimension of yumminess.

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