The Best Chocolate Fudge Cake

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!

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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...

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 🙂

Ingredients

  • 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!

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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 🙂

They’re not Terry’s…they’re mine!

You may have already gathered that I like to bake on special occasions (birthday bash baking bananarama coming up – if that doesn’t sound exciting I don’t know what does), and these Chocolate Orange Brownies are no exception. Last Sunday marked one very happy year of being in a relationship with my boyfriend, and he is currently a fan of Terry’s chocolate oranges…you can see where I’m going with this. They turned out quite well and really do taste a lot like a chocolate orange, which was the ultimate goal really, so mission accomplished!

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Ingredients:

  • 200g butter (real or margarine, but bearing in mind margarine will make the mixture runnier)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 50g Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange
  • zest of 1 large orange (2-3 tsps approx)
  • 4 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange

Step 1: Melt the zest, butter, dark chocolate and orange chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (a bain-marie). Obviously the zest won’t actually melt but heating them together infuses the chocolate with the zesty flavour and aroma.

Step 2: While the melted chocolate mixture is cooling, whisk the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until they are thoroughly combined and a pale colour. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix gently.

Step 3: Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold. Chop up the 100g of chocolate orange and stir in.

Step 4: Pour the brownie mixture into a tin lined with baking paper. Bake for around 40-50 minutes – do check them if you know your oven is quite fierce (mine isn’t) but be patient, as these take a while to cook through! They should have a slight wobble, be crisp on the top and have risen a little. Cool completely in the tin then cut up and keep in an airtight container. Yuuuuuuuuuummmmmmm.

These brownies are incredibly rich, slightly chewy round the edges and nice and crispy on top – what’s not to like? A VERY indulgent but wonderfully chocolaty gift or rainy day treat. If you like you can use dark chocolate, or maybe even white chocolate/with popping candy/bacon flavoured (that one is made up) Terry’s oranges – experiment or just use the one you like best. Even though I’m a huge dark chocolate fan, I love the original milk chocolate, but then the popping candy is fun…and the white chocolate version would be pretty awesome in these brownies I reckon…in short, they’re all delicious. Many thanks, Terry.

Source: BBC Good Food, ‘Chocolate Orange Brownies’, with a few of my own alterations based on personal preference and comments from other bakers on the page, so thanks reviewers of the world for those. And of course thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, who effectively inspired this post by hanging around long enough for there to be cause for celebration – and therefore baking! Who says you have to choose between love and chocolate?!

Middle Brother’s White Chocolate-Chunk Brownies

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My second oldest brother is quite the opposite of the eldest – he is not at all fussy where food is concerned, has a truly enormous appetite (what is it about teenage boys that allows them to eat like their stomachs are bottomless and stay as skinny as beanpoles?!) and loves all things chocolatey and/or cakey. Double chocolate brownies it is! These are not complicated but they do take a little more care and effort to make…Oh my goodness they are worth it though. Comments on these delights have so far included ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’ and simply ‘Oh My God’. Clearly this is a recipe to impress and who doesn’t like brownies? The flapjack connoisseur doesn’t actually, but I have yet to meet any other skeptics. Here are the ingredients before you burst with anticipation:

  • 185g unsalted butter (I tend to only use real butter in pastry or shortbread where it really does make a difference, otherwise margarines or spreads can make bakes lighter, less fatty and generally cheaper) 
  • 185g decent quality dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g caster sugar 

 

Step 1: Melt the butter and dark chocolate together either in a bain-marie (a bowl or pan set on top of another pan of boiling water) or in a  bowl in the microwave. Be careful not to overcook the mixture; it should be just smooth, glossy and one colour like in the delicious picture above. Leave to cool at room temperature.

Step 2: Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a separate bowl and set aside. You can also line a tin with baking paper* and preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 at this point while you wait for the chocolate to cool.

*The original recipe says to use a 20cm square cake tin, but whatever not too shallow tin you have (within reason) should work – I’ve used all sorts of containers before and its been fine. Just remember to think about how deep the tin is and adjust the baking time to more or less accordingly.

Step 3: Whisk the eggs and sugar together in another bowl (a fair bit of washing up with this one, don’t be put off though – get your boyfriend or similar to do it in return for a sample of the finished product. This is NOT what I did…). Use an electric mixer if you have one, or a balloon whisk if you don’t, and keep going until the mixture is ‘thick and creamy, like a milkshake’. Or for as long as you can by hand, because apparently this stage can take 3-8 minutes to reach with an electric mixer. Mine was fairly frothy and worked fine, I think the longer you whisk it the more rise you get during baking though. Ideally the eggs and sugar should turn a lot paler and double in size.

Step 4: Carefully, and with patience, fold the melted chocolate and butter into the fluffy egg and sugar mix. I did this by making a figure of eight with the spatula, starting at one side of the bowl and scooping across to the other, and turning the bowl at the same time. Sounds tricky I know, but once you get into a rhythm its actually quite relaxing. The second photo down from the top shows this stage of mixing. When they stop looking like two separate mixtures, shake in your sifted flour and cocoa powder, and fold in the same way again, nice and gently, until the magic happens and your mixture gets a lovely gooey texture and you can’t wait to bake it.

Step 5: Chop your white chocolate into chunks (the BBC recipe adds milk chocolate as well, in which case do 50g white and 50g milk chocolate chunks) and stir in. Everything should be just combined now, so resist the temptation to do any more mixing as you want to keep the air in so the brownies will rise in the oven.

Step 6: Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven (best on a middle shelf for even cooking) for 25 minutes, at 180C/Gas Mark 4 as preheated to earlier. Check that there’s no wobble when you shake the tin gently after the 25 minutes – if there is, give it another 2-5 until the top has a nice crust (papery is how Good Food described it, a nice fitting word) – and leave to cool completely before cutting into squares and devouring.

Brownies keep well for up to two weeks in an airtight container, and they also freeze okay for up to a month. Useful to know, if they ever last that long… 

Source: BBC Good Food, ‘Best-ever brownies’. Thanks to my middling brother for eating and appreciating, and all the others who tried and enjoyed them – they’ve got a pretty good rep thanks to some very eager taste-testers.