Writing about food is something that I’ve thought about for too long, but somehow there was always something standing in my way – until now, that is. Just last week, the final hurdle between me writing and you reading this was overcome as a shiny, new, functioning oven was installed in the cubby-hole I call my kitchen.
From the moment I met my former oven, we didn’t get on. Droning and loud with a temperamental thermostat, I couldn’t bear the thought of posting photos of cremated cakes for the world to see; even the mighty powers of Instagram couldn’t hide the char. I am most definitely ashamed to admit that at my very lowest point I plunged to the murky depths of microwaving a Victoria sponge sandwich in order to cook the eggy ooze outpouring from a crusty, black shell. Knowing that I’d crossed a terrible, terrible line, I abandoned baking for months.
Now, however, I’m free to resign that sad saga to history. But what foodie marvel could justify my debut blog post from the Kitchen on the Kelvin? I quickly concluded that it had to be something season-appropriate and, as an agnostic Scot, Easter means only one thing – CHOCOLATE.
The recipe for these chocolate fudge sponges and cupcakes was tweaked from the BBC Good Food’s highly rated Naughty Chocolate Fudge Cake – I felt compelled to drop the ‘naughty’ – although I’ve swapped their chocolate buttercream for a more intense, grown-up ganache.
The cake recipe itself is unrivalled, though. The use of oil instead of butter leaves it scrumptiously moist and the all-in-one method makes it almost foolproof.
Ideally, I’d have topped these with speckled Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, but after hopelessly searching the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents for more than 90 minutes, I was forced to accept that I should probably be spending my time attending to more pressing and important tasks like picking up my dry-cleaning and going to the Post Office. I settled for Cadbury’s Flake dust and some inedible fuzzy chicks to add a much-needed injection of colour.
For the cake:
[This deeply filled two mini 11.5cm sandwich tins and six generously-sized cupcake cases but would equally suit two standard 18cm/7″ sandwich tins]
175g self-raising flour
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
150ml (1/4 pint) sunflower or vegetable oil
150ml (1/4 pint) semi-skimmed milk [I’d use whole milk if I had it handy]
2 tbsp golden syrup
For the ganache:
[These quantities left me with a ramekin-full left over – perfect heated up and poured over ice cream for a satisfying and instant mid-week dessert]
150ml double cream
150g good quality dark chocolate [or substitute half for milk chocolate to lessen the cocoa intensity for kids/adult wimps like my boyfriend]
- Preheat your oven to 180°c (160° fan) or gas mark 4 and grease and line your tins.
- Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarb and add the caster sugar. Mix well.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and add the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth with an electric freestanding or hand mixer – unless you’re looking to build biceps.
- Pour into your tins or cupcake cases – the batter will be quite wet – and place in the oven. Leave until risen and firm to the touch. The cupcakes should only take around 15 mins while the sandwich tins will be ready in 25 – 30 minutes.
- Leave to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.
- You can start on the ganache right away if you wish as it requires an hour or two to cool. Add the cream and broken up chocolate to a pan on a very low heat and stir gently until the chocolate is melted.
- Remove from the heat and beat until smooth and glossy. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- I levelled off the rise on each sandwich with a sharp knife – allowing me the benefit of a sneaky taste test – before spreading on the ganache with a flat-edged pallet knife. Sprinkle with Flake dust created by venting your pent-up anger on a sealed Flake with a rolling pin. And if you’re lucky enough to source Mini Eggs – where did you get them!? – they’ll add an unmistakable Easter charm.