We all have our favourite recipes – the ones we know will never fail us. Today’s recipe is one such staple: my Ultimate Go-To Chocolate Cake. This recipe has been halved, doubled, cupcake-d, tray-baked or a combination of the lot. The oil in it makes it incredibly moist, staying fresh for up to a week (honestly – try it!!!) and it has the added bonus of being egg and dairy free. This three-tiered naked beauty was made, on this occasion, for my lovely Mom’s 69th birthday. Why don’t you give it a try for Mother’s Day? Get as creative as you like with the decorations… please let me know how it turns out!
YOU WILL NEED
Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, sieve, additional heat-proof bowl, cake tins as preferred*, greaseproof/baking paper, Bake Even strips**, plastic straws (if using flowers, to facilitate safe placement of flower stems)
For the chocolate cake:
3 (4½) cups cake flour
4 (6) teaspoons baking powder
1 (1½) teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150 (225) ml cocoa (the darkest you can find)
2 (3) cups sugar
Pinch of salt
2 (3) cups boiled water
1 (1½) cup oil
50 (75) ml vinegar
2 (3) teaspoons vanilla essence
Just enough vanilla frosting for the naked look:
200g butter, VERY soft but not melted
400g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Flowers or other decorations of your choice (we used begonia and eucalyptus)
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC and prepare your baking tins by lining with greaseproof paper (or cupcake wrappers if you’re opting for cupcakes and wrapping in Bake Even strips.
Instructions for the cake:
- Sift & mix all the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl.
- Combine all the wet ingredients in your heat-proof bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix on low until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared tins/cupcake wrappers, making sure they’re about equal depth.
Note: If you’re using different sized tins as I did, the cakes will obviously bake at different speeds. I decided it would be less disruptive to the baking process to quickly add the smaller cakes to the oven mid-bake than it would be to test them and have to possibly put them back. This worked well for me.
- Put the largest tins in the oven first and bake for 25 minutes.
- Once 25 minutes has passed, quickly add the smaller tins to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.
- After this time, check all by inserting a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. If any of the cakes need a little longer, extend the bake by 5 minutes at a time until done.
- Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Instructions for the frosting:
- Combine all the ingredients in your electric mixer and mix very well. The more you beat the frosting, the lighter it will become!
- Start by levelling cakes where necessary, then sandwiching the two large cakes with a little frosting.
- Place a blob of frosting in the middle of the top tier and spread to cover an area roughly the size of the next cake, then position the mid-size tier.
- Again, create an area of frosting roughly the size of the smallest tier and position your final cake on top.
- Once all the tiers are assembled, proceed to apply a very thin coat of frosting all over. You may, like me, find this counter-intuitive… I’m so used to always trying to cover a cake impeccably.
- Decorate to your liking.
If you choose to add flowers to your cake, here are a few tips!
- Choose flowers that are safe to come into contact with food. Things like roses are perfect, or other edible flowers.
- Just to be safe, use straws to keep the stems away from the cake. Burn the ends of the straws and pinch it to create a closed tube.
- To ensure that the flowers stay fresh and pretty, decorate the cake just before serving.
* I made the recipe up 1½ times (see quantities in brackets) and I used two 21cm cake tins, one 15cm cake tin and a 10cm tin. My large tins have loose bottoms, so I didn’t line their sides, but I seriously recommend lining the sides of any tin without a loose bottom.
** Bake Even strips help achieve level cakes with minimal doming. If you don’t have proper Bake Even strips, you can use dampened tea towels or strips cut from old towels. Simply fasten them around your tin with paper clips. I actually did this for my two smaller pans as I only have two strips… it worked a charm!
*** For this “naked finish”, I used a simple vanilla frosting, but I’m including the chocolate frosting recipe for you anyway as that’s what I normally use. The recipe, made up once, will make one tray-bake or a decent twin layered round cake using 21cm tins, or it yields 48 cupcakes. To make enough chocolate frosting for a 2-tiered round cake, combine 400g butter (VERY soft but not melted), 800g icing sugar (sifted) and 80ml cocoa. Mix very well as per vanilla frosting instructions above.
Happy Mother’s Day!