My favourite chocolate cake – and everyone else’s too

My favourite chocolate cake – and everyone else’s too

I thought I was sharing a secret recipe with you all today. I was wholly convinced that I was about to open up your worlds with this chocolate cake recipe that I’ve been making for years and which never fails to impress.

Hmm. Not if this is anything to go by.

Or this. Or this.

Apparently, my favourite chocolate cake is everyone else’s favourite, too. It’s been baked and blogged about so many times that I’m probably not letting you in on any sort of secret at all. But I can hardly blame the other bloggers for beating me to the punch. Deeply fudgy and decadent, this is an impressive cake that doesn’t deserve to bake in obscurity.

This is also a big cake. I’d say it can feed 16 generously, and probably up to 24 in a dessert crisis. Due to the sheer size of this cake, a lot of people got to taste it. And response was pretty much unanimous – it’s good. Very good. So good that two people suggested I look into opening a baking stall at the local farmers' market.

But it’s not my skill, I insist. It’s the recipe, which is just dang fine. (Of course, if it were a disaster I’d park the blame squarely at my own oven door.) Moist, fudgy, complex and not too sweet, it is beautifully paired with a rich, luscious – and again, not too sweet – chocolate ganache frosting.

Looking to impress someone? Wanting to win over hearts and minds? Bake this cake.

Nothing more to say.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Slightly adapted from Epicurious

I use slightly less sugar and salt in my cake – otherwise I follow the original ingredients to the letter. In place of the corn syrup in the ganache, you can substitute golden syrup or liquid glucose. And if you don’t have two 10-inch pans, you can bake the layers one after the other using the same pan. This is what I do and it always works out fine!

Cake:
3 oz / 85 g fine quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose or plain flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ganache frosting:
1 pound /500 g fine quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 T sugar
2 T corn syrup (or substitute golden syrup or liquid glucose)
1/4 cup unsalted butter

For the cake: Preheat oven to 300°F and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment or baking paper and grease the tops of the paper, too.

Finely chop chocolate and, in a medium bowl, combine with hot coffee. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is melted and smooth.

In a large bowl sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand held). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and the coffee-chocolate mixture, beating until well combined. Add the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Note: there will be a LOT of batter.

Divide the batter between pans and bake in the middle of the oven until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. The original recipe calls for 1 hour-1 hour and 10 minutes, but I find it only takes 45-50 minutes.

Cool the cake layers completely in the pans. To unmold, run a thin knife around the pan edges and invert the layers onto a rack. The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept wrapped at room temperature or in the fridge.

To make the frosting: Finely chop chocolate. In a large saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and add the chocolate, whisking until it is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to the frosting, whisking until smooth.

Cool the frosting, stirring occasionally, until it is spreadable. You may need to chill it in the fridge for a short amount of time.

When the frosting is at your desired consistency, spread it between the layers and over the top and sides. This cake keeps, covered and chilled, for several days. It is best brought to room temperature before serving.