Chocolate cake is one the best, most decadent desserts out there. Do you remember when you went to a birthday party as a little kid, and the cake was chocolate? I remember the utter joy, bliss, and excitement that gave me.
I think that holds over into adulthood because even now, there’s a part of me that feels such incredible excitement at chocolate cake, and I’m sure that part’s in you too.
There are a few tips and tricks to make sure you make your chocolate cake the best it can be. Let’s go through the recipe together, and then we’ll talk about the best tricks to make your chocolate cake perfect!
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 200g unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 200g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk
- Heat your oven to 190˚C, or 170˚C fan. Butter the base and two sides of two twenty centimeter round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
- In a large bowl, beat together 200g golden caster sugar, 200g softened unsalted butter, 4 large eggs, 200g self-raising flour, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp milk, and a pinch of salt. Beat them until pale, and taste to see if you need to add any more salt or sugar.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. Bake for roughly twenty minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
- Leave to cool in the tine for ten minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool, you can add buttercream to the sponges, before sandwiching them and decorating to your heart’s content.
Making a basic, easy chocolate cake is a very simple affair indeed. To make it truly great, however, there are a few things to bear in mind: the chocolate flavor, the rise, and the potential extras.
The Chocolate Flavor
For your chocolate flavor, you have two options. Either you add unsweetened cocoa powder, or you add a more conventional hot chocolate powder. If you go with the first option, the resulting cake will be much darker, and it will have a richer, more powerful taste. If you go for the second option, your cake will be much sweeter and lighter in flavor. It’s completely up to you which one of these you go for. In order to achieve a ‘best of both worlds’ cake, you could opt to use unsweetened cocoa powder, and then supplement the mix with a few grams of melted chocolate chips. This sweetness and milkiness will come through in the final cake.
The rise of a good cake is an important part of the final execution. In failed experiments in cake-baking, I’ve fallen victim to a poorly-risen sponge on many occasions, but, thankfully, there’s a couple of tips to remember. Firstly, ensure you’re using the right ingredients for your leavening agent. In this recipe, you’re using baking powder, so you don’t need any additional ingredients beyond the liquids in the recipe. However, if you were using baking soda, you would also need an acid to activate it.
In this recipe, either buttermilk or natural yogurt would be great options: they would activate the leavening agent, and they wouldn’t adversely affect the taste of your cake. The second tip is a little more tricky, and can only be honed with practice: don’t open the oven until your cake has finished rising! During the rising process, carbon dioxide is being made in your cake which puffs it up. As the bake continues, the cake around the carbon dioxide bubbles becomes firmer and the rise is maintained. If you open the oven while the cake isn’t firm internally, then the cake won’t rise well. The only way to become good at this is through practice and lots of it.
Your potential extras are where you can get creative with your cake. For example, will you change the flavor up a bit and throw in a few teaspoons of instant coffee powder? That can really set off the powerful, rich flavors inherent in chocolate, and can give you a powerful flavor. Alternatively, consider adding a little chili powder to your batter – chili and chocolate work surprisingly well together!
However you decide to make your chocolate cake, it’s tough to go wrong with the basic recipe we put above. Happy baking, and even happier eating!