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Ultimate chocolate cake


Serves: 8-10
timePrep time: 35 mins
timeTotal time:
Ultimate chocolate cake
Recipe photograph by Karen Thomas

Ultimate chocolate cake

This rich yet light cake has melted chocolate in the sponge to give it a fudgy texture - meet Nancy Birtwhistle's ultimate chocolate cake!

Serves: 8-10
timePrep time: 35 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories
564Kcal
Fat
30gr
Saturates
13gr
Carbs
67gr
Sugars
55gr
Fibre
2gr
Protein
6gr
Salt
0.5gr

Nancy Birtwhistle

Nancy Birtwhistle

Nancy Birtwhistle won the fifth series of the The Great British Bake Off. Now a grandmother of eight, Nancy's first recollection of baking was making Christmas treats with her own grandmother.
See more of Nancy Birtwhistle’s recipes
Nancy Birtwhistle

Nancy Birtwhistle

Nancy Birtwhistle won the fifth series of the The Great British Bake Off. Now a grandmother of eight, Nancy's first recollection of baking was making Christmas treats with her own grandmother.
See more of Nancy Birtwhistle’s recipes

Ingredients

For the chocolate sponge
  • 50g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), chopped (optional)
  • 100ml milk
  • 30g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125g soft margarine, eg Stork, plus extra to grease
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g self-raising flour, sifted
For the chocolate buttercream
  • 50g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), chopped, plus extra for shaving (optional)
  • 100g soft butter
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • ¼ tsp instant coffee dissolved in ½ tsp boiling water

Step by step

Get ahead
The sponges can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 1 month. Leftovers of the assembled cake keep in a container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

 

  1. Put the chocolate (if using) in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, and leave to melt. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, gradually mix the milk into the cocoa powder to make a thin paste.

  2. Grease and base-line 2 x 18cm loose-based sponge tins. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas 5.

  3. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla, a little at a time. Fold in the sifted flour and a pinch of salt, then add the cooled melted chocolate, if using, and the cocoa paste, and continue to fold in well using a large metal spoon. Don’t be tempted to beat the mixture, as you will lose the valuable air incorporated during the creaming.

  4. Divide equally between the 2 tins, level the tops, then bake for 15-18 minutes until the cakes are risen and springy to the touch. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto wire racks. Remove and discard the base paper.

  5. For the buttercream, melt the chocolate as before, then cool. Cream the butter until really soft, using an electric whisk, then add the icing sugar, milk, coffee and a pinch of salt. Beat until smooth, then mix in the cooled melted chocolate. Add a little more milk if the icing seems too thick.

  6. Sandwich the cooled cakes together with the chocolate buttercream and spread more on top and the sides. Use a vegetable peeler to shave some chocolate over the top of the cake to decorate, if you like.

    Tip

    The twists

     

     

    BLACK FOREST CAKE

     

    Make the 2 x 18cm cakes as above. Instead of the buttercream, spread one sponge with 150g cherry jam, then cover with 200ml whipped double cream. Dust the top with cocoa powder or icing sugar, if you like. SERVES 8-10 V ❄

     

    CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE CUPCAKES

     

    Omit the vanilla from the sponge mixture and add 1 tsp orange extract plus the finely grated zest of 1 orange. Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes. Omit the melted chocolate and coffee from the buttercream and replace with ½ tsp orange extract. Pipe or spread onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with chocolate sprinkles or orange zest. MAKES 12 V ❄

     

    CHOCOLATE SLICES

     

    Bake the chocolate sponge mixture for about 25 minutes in a lined 20cm-square cake tin, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. For the topping, put 100g chopped dark or milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl with 50g butter, 1 tbsp water and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Melt over a pan of gently simmering water and stir until smooth. Pour over the cake (with a tray under the wire rack), spread out, then leave to set before cutting into 12 slices, using a large knife dipped in hot water. MAKES 12 V ❄ ■

Chef quote

‘The perfect chocolate cake is dark, rich and yet light. It took me many attempts but I have finally achieved it! Adding melted chocolate to the sponge mixture gives it a fudgier texture, but you can leave this out and simply use the cocoa paste for a lighter (and cheaper) cake.’

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