I’ve said yes to making the pudding at my friend’s annual Christmas dinner. I am barely a month into learning even the basics of cooking and yet here I am Googling impressive cake to serve to 5.
I’ve quickly come to realize that this needs to be a people pleaser. I shouldn’t try anything too fancy (and really, with my limited skills, why would I even bother) and nothing too old-fashioned (no one under 60 is that keen on fruit cake). So it has boiled down to just one ingredient that pleases everyone: chocolate.
When I am baking for myself Mary Berry is my guardian angel – reliable, easy to make and, dare I say it, a little boring. Me in a nutshell. But when baking for other people I always pull out the Primrose Bakery book.
After deciding on their Chocolate layer cake I sent out a flurry of panicked texts to my professional cake-making friend. I begged her to let me in on the secrets of perfecting the perfect, moist cake. My Bake Off show stopper. Her secret? A ramekin filled with water, placed under the cake at the bottom of the oven. My face – 😕
It turns out that making a two layer cake is hard work – I’ve discovered I only have one cake tin. For both layers I set the ramekin of water at the bottom of the oven with a degree of skepticism. Would this actually work?
Primrose Bakery chocolate layer cake recipe:
Makes 2 20cm layers
230g good quality dark choc
170g unsalted butter, at room temp
350g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated
370g plain sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
500ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temp
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
Pre heat oven to 170c (fan),190c/375f/gas mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl, melt on a medium setting in 30-second bursts until completely melted, stirring well in between. Alternatively use a bowl over a saucepan, set the bowl to one side to cool.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until its pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 mins using a electric hand mixer. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat for several mins, slowly add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and beat well. Add the choc to this mix and beat again.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla in a jug, add one third of the flour to the creamed mix and beat well, pour in one third of the milk mix and beat again, repeating these steps until all the flour and milk has been added.
In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites, with clean beaters, until soft peaks start to form. Carefully fold in the egg whites to the batter using a metal spoon. (do not beat as this will take out all the air). Divide between tins and bake for 30mins. Insert a skewer in the middle if it comes out clean its done.
Once both layers are cooked, I decorate the top with the gaudiest Christmas cake toppings I could find and put the cake in the fridge ready for tomorrow’s party. Pray for me.
I don’t know if you can say this about your own cooking but HERE I GO: It was perfect. There, I said it. Perfect. I think I may have actually cried out in surprise. It was moist (thanks, ramekin), and thick with chocolate.
The only downside was I had polished off about 4 bottles of wine and the only photographic evidence I have of the cake is this, a photo of me and my boyfriend, cake almost out of shot.