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Dog days


This chocolate cake is TOO GOOD. So good in fact, that when I made one for GS' birthday picnic last weekend, proudly displaying my handiwork on the cool box for all to see, a runaway dog from the neighbouring group dashed over and took a bite out of it. Luckily we diverted disaster (small dog, quick reflexes), only losing a tiny canine corner. We started out serving from the other side of the cake, but I can't vouch for how close G and SS came to the contaminated area once they got the leftovers home. I expect they'll lie about it if quizzed. It was too good to leave.

This has been our family birthday cake recipe since the dawn of time. It's from the American kitchen bible which mama brought over with her from the States in the 70s. Sadly I didn't have access to our old Mickey-Mouse-shaped cake mould this week (also from the states, and the 70s) so a regular, round tin had to suffice.

So, here you have a traditional 'Devil's food cake', made by mixing a melted dark chocolate custard into the rest of the cake batter. This gives a moist and perfect crumb which is worth the extra step. I've slightly tweaked the recipe to give an even more chocolaty result, as the original is perfect for kids but I think lacks a grown-up cocoa hit. Again, we used to go wild for a fluffy buttercream icing, but here I opted for an intense and chocolaty fudge topping. IDEALLY I would have decorated with Smarties rather than Buttons, but Tesco appear not to sell them anymore. Sad times indeed.

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Et en français...

Rich Chocolate Devil's Food Cake with chocolate fudge icing

Serves a crowd, takes 25 minutes, plus baking time

A rich, fluffy, chocolatey and decadent party piece. For kids and adults alike.

dessert / baking / party / perennial / showing off / vegetarian

For the cake

* Egg - 3

* Milk - 1 and 1/2 cups

* Soft brown sugar - 1 and 2/3 cups

* Dark chocolate - 120g, broken into small pieces

* Unsalted butter - 120g

* Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

* Plain flour - 2 cups

* Baking soda - 1 tsp

* Cocoa powder - 4 heaped tbsp

* Salt - 1/4 tsp

For the icing

* Butter - 150g

* Soft brown sugar - 1 heaped tbsp

* Dark chocolate - 300g, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour two 25cm cake tins.

Start by making the chocolate custard. Whisk one egg with 1/2 cup of milk and 2/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat, stirring slowly but constantly, for several minutes - you want to make sure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture starts to coat the spoon, add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.

Cream the butter and the remaining cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the two remaining eggs. Mix to combine.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl (I often skip the sifting step through laziness but it REALLY does help to get an evenly risen cake). Then mix in to the batter alternately with the remaining cup of milk in 3 or 4 batches. Don't over mix.

Stir in the chocolate mixture to combine. Pour into the prepared tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin, then carefully turn them out on to a clean surface or a wire cooling rack.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Bring 125ml of water to a simmer in a small saucepan with the butter and sugar. Stir to combine.

Stir in the chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Leave to cool then place in the fridge to firm up (this will take about an hour) while the cakes cool down.

Once the cakes are cool, you can ice them. Spread 1/3 of the icing on one of the cakes. Place the other cake on top, then use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides. Decorate with Smarties. If you can find them.


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