All-in-one chocolate cake
This easy chocolate cake is a family favourite and often-requested recipe. It couldn’t be easier or more reliable to make. I have baked it many times over the years for my children and recently for my grandchildren.
It is a great recipe to use for a child’s birthday cake as it can be baked in in one tin or two and in different shapes. Simply halve the quantities for a smaller or regular-sized cake or for cupcakes.
170g (6 tbsp) very soft butter
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
4 free-range eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (4 tbsp) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of salt
For baking the cake, you need a large spring-form tin, a square or rectangular cake tin or two smaller tins. I generally use a 23cm (9”) square tin. Line the bottom of the tin with baking paper and brush the tin with butter, dust with plain flour and tap tin to remove the excess flour.
Preheat the oven to 160C fan or 180C regular.
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat for five to ten minutes until well blended.
Tip the cake batter into the prepared tin or tins and spread evenly. Tap the tin on the bench to remove any air pockets. Bake in the centre of the oven until firm to the touch in the middle. This will take for 30 to 40 minutes for smaller tins or up to an hour or longer for a larger one.
Allow the cake to stand in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool. When cool ice the cake all over to or just on the top. The cake can be split and spread with raspberry jam before icing.
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp milk or milk and black coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
Place the butter, cocoa, milk and vanilla in a small saucepan and place on the stove. Stir as the mixture comes to a simmer. Take off the heat and allow it to cool.
When you are ready to ice the cake, beat the icing sugar into the chocolate mixture. Using a pallet knife and working quickly spread the icing over the cake. If the icing becomes too thick add a splash of hot water; similarly dip the knife into hot water to help spread the icing if it starts to set.
Chocolate flower pot cake with spring flowers
The terracotta pot we used to bake the cake was 16cm high and 18cm across the top. Line the pot with damp, crumpled baking paper and then brush with butter. Tip the cake batter in to three quarters full (or a little less) and bake until firm. It will take a long time to bake. Cool in the pot sitting on a rack.
Carve out the centre of the cake and fit in a tall thin jar for the vase. Carefully ice the top of the cake around the jar. Fill with spring blooms.