Some of my cake recipes start with a batch of Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, like my homage to Jaffa Cakes and Erik’s birthday treat Coconut Ice Cake. I made up 1 metre of cake for Marc’s birthday (he’s the MD for my choir, BGMC – decorating the cake blog to follow!).
I make the cake in advance and freeze it undecorated as soon as it is cool, this makes the sponge richer and fudgier and improves the texture. Working with the cake frozen makes shaping or trimming easier, cold cake will be more cooperative! Nigella’s recipe has to be one of my favourites, it’s fool proof, she bakes her sponges in two round tins, I use one Swiss roll tin and that means there is some tweaking.
To make Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake you will need
- 400 grams plain flour
- 250 grams golden caster sugar
- 100 grams light brown muscovado sugar
- 50 grams best-quality cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 142 ml tub sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 175 grams unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 125 ml corn oil
- 300 ml chilled water
Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Yes, sift – I know some people moan about having to do this but it really is a good thing to do. Light muscovado sugar often has larger crystals that need to be sifted out and as this sugar contains molasses you could get the unattractive clumping. Cocoa is horrid if you do not sift it – so just get it done. Then mix all of the dry ingredients together.
In another bowl whisk all of the wet ingredients together, Nigella does this in stages combining various items, but if you work quickly I find my way is fine. If you’d like to see how Nigella does it then do visit her site.
Empty the bowl of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk with a hand held machine (you can use one on a stand if you prefer). Get this combined before the wet ingredients start to separate. Once the mixing is underway it is important to scrape around the bowl to ensure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Mix until totally smooth, you will end up with a semi fluid cake batter – not a stiff cake mix. You do not need to whip and whip until you incorporate lots of air – there is enough raising agent in the mix.
Empty the mixture into a Swiss roll tin lined with baking parchment, bake at 170 centigrade (fan oven) for 20/24 mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take care that the edges of the cake do not catch, as this is a thin layer. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 mins to cool slightly, transfer it to a wire rack to completely cool – leaving the baking parchment attached to the cake. Once fully cool wrap the cake in the tin and freeze it.
When you are ready to make up your cake it is best to work with a frozen cake as cutting and icing is so much easier when it is frozen – don’t worry it is not hard to get the knife through the cake. Cut the slabs of cake down the middle, (trim a little of the edges if they are a bit thin), peel off the backing paper from one half lay one half on the cake board and the other half beside it (leave the second piece with it’s backing paper attached.
To make ONE batch of the frosting you will need
- 250g soft butter
- 275g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
- Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 175g Dark Chocolate, Melted And Cooled
I made up 1 metre of cake for Marc’s birthday (he’s the MD for my choir, BGMC – decorating the cake blog to follow!). For the 1M of cake I made up 4 batches of fudge cake and 3 batches of the frosting. I’m guessing that for most projects 1 batch of cake and 1 batch of frosting should be enough.
Whisk together the soft butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy, add in the vanilla essence and the cooled melted chocolate. Whisk on high speed until the mixture is very light and a soft shade – with the appearance of milk chocolate. Even though you are using dark chocolate the incorporated air makes a lighter texture and in turn a lighter shade; so a quick whisk with the mixer is not enough. Take some good quality jam and pile it into a piping bag, then put the frosting in another piping bag. Pipe a line of jam down the middle of the cake and a couple of rows of frosting either side. Take the second piece of cake (paper still attached), turn it over and push the top of the cake into the lines of frosting – hopefully some of the frosting will squidge out – that’s a good thing! Peel off the baking paper from the top layer.
Crumb coating, this is a technique that a lot of home bakers miss out, but it is a useful tip to take on board. The idea is that you cover your cake in a thin layer of frosting – allow it to set a little and then ice the cake properly. What this does is trap the loose crumbs close to the cake so that the finished surface is crumb-free.
Pipe zig-zag lines of frosting onto the sides of the cake, smooth with a palette knife. Repeat on top of cake. Work along sections of cake until all is covered with a thin layer of icing. Don’t worry if bits of cake poke through, this layer is gluing the loose bits of cake in place – you need to let this layer set a little.
Once set ice the cake again with a finishing thicker layer, smoothing it out. Getting a mirror smooth finish is not easy, so deliberately adding a little rough texture to the final finish with your palette knife will enhance the finished look.