Hello hello hello – I have returned at long last to the bloggosphere with a new recipe offering and a short précis of my life as it stands at the moment. You lucky lot!
In pride of place on the kitchen table
I am aware that my last post was in March; you know how all those things that you have to do end up getting in the way of things that you like to but don’t have to do? That’s pretty much what happened. Not to say I haven’t baked at all in the last few months – I have – but not as frequently as before and without the time really to turn the results into halfway decent blog posts. But now it’s August, it’s sunny, I’ve graduated, I don’t currently have a job but I do have a lovely little kitchen of (half) my own in the splendid flat my boyfriend and I have recently settled in. The plan is to do a Creative Writing MA, still in Sheffield, this coming year whilst I try and decide what path I think I want my real, grown-up life to take. Scary stuff. But exciting! I’m really starting to look forward to it actually – the decision has been a long time coming but the more I’ve thought about it (and these sessions have been extensive and involved drawing up lists of pros and cons) the more right it feels.
Meanwhile, I’ve had rather a lot of time on my hands since I finished my temporary job at the end of July. Luckily, August has turned into holiday month for me – I’ve been away camping with my dad, next week I’m camping with my mum, the week after that I’m visiting one of my best friends for her 21st and then getting to go to Harry Potter World – yeah!! – and THEN to a hotel in Devon to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday. Phew! I honestly would be crazed with boredom if this wasn’t all in the pipeline – how do people live without going to work of some kind and/or being in education?! It seems that I certainly thrive best on a healthy diet of things-to-get-done rather than endless hours of choice and freedom – how strange. You always crave one whilst living on the other don’t you?
Yesterday I watched a very good film called The Magdalene Sisters, about a convent for ‘fallen girls’ – you know, the ones who get harassed by their male cousin and it’s obviously all their fault, or when they look at a boy, God forbid. It was quite harrowing, especially the ending, but well worth a watch as it’s actually based on a true story and, upsetting though it may be, I think it’s important to know about past atrocities so you can be aware of them re-occurring in the present. As you can probably tell, after it finished I felt like I needed a bit of comforting, so I turned to – yes, the only possible solution – cake. Delicious, icing-smothered, glossy, rich chocolate cake. Mmmmmm.
The recipe is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, appropriate seeing as The Great British Bake Off has returned to our screens (Hurrah! Who are your favourites?! I’m already rooting for Martha and Chetna, and Norman is just great – so devil-may-care. I love it) and the first episode was based around the timeless delights of cakes in their many guises.
It’s actually an incredibly easy, simple cake – perfect to whip up when you want the comfort of the calming process of weighing out ingredients and gently melting ingredients together but not the stress and rigour of a difficult or fiddly recipe. Plus, you get a fantastic treat at the end; who doesn’t like a lovely, big, round chocolate cake (except my brother – a vegan AND a chocophobic) that you can nibble a slice of at work, after tea or even in bed (as we did last night after I finished icing)?
A pair of slices mysteriously disappeared as soon as I finished icing it…
Here is the recipe; I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I did 🙂
- 50g cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons boiling water
- 3 large eggs
- 50ml milk
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 100g softened butter
- 275g caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
- 150g plain chocolate (the best quality you have – there isn’t much, if anything, to disguise the flavour in the icing)
- 150ml double cream
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas Mark 4 and grease two deep 20cm sandwich tins, lining the base with baking paper.
Step 2. Blend the cocoa powder and boiling water together in your mixing bowl, then plonk all the other ingredients in* and beat thoroughly until you have a smooth, thick paste. I used a wooden spoon and then a whisk (an old-fashioned manual one, but you could use electric if you wished of course) to achieve this. *I whisked the eggs up in a separate bowl first to make it smoother
Step 3. Pour the mixture into the two tins, dividing it evenly between them. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. When done, cool slightly in the tins then turn out onto a wire rack. Don’t forget to remove the baking paper bases before icing!
Step 4. Make the icing/filling. Heat the apricot jam a little (short bursts in the microwave worked for me) until runny and when they are cooled completely, brush over the top of both cakes with a pastry brush. This is to stop any crumbs getting in the icing. TIP: If your cakes have a bit of a peak in the middle, like mine did, it’s a good idea to slice off the top so you have a flat surface to place your top layer on. The cook gets the offcuts!
Step 5. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl with the cream. Either heat in short bursts in a microwave – if you do this stir after every 10-20 seconds as it will burn otherwise – or place over a pan of simmering water to melt the two together.
Step 6. When the mixture is properly combined and melted, leave to cool until almost set, then spread over the top of both cakes, sandwiching them together with the filling and smoothing the icing over the top with a palette knife. (If you put the icing on when warm it will run off and look messy, as well as making the cake too moist.) Keep in a cool place – I put my cake on the lid of a large tin, then placed the tin on top so it’s basically upside down. It makes it much easier to cut the cake and take it out the tin when you need to. Serve on the day, or it will keep in the tin for 3-4 days I reckon without losing too much yumminess. Tuck in!
And that’s it! I’m going to stop making promises I can’t keep and just say I don’t know when I’ll post again next, but I hope you liked this one. Happy Baking 🙂