A cake that makes crap days better? You’d better believe it. Lorraine Pascale introduces the ultimate chocolate bake.
First up, a warning – things are about to get very chocolatey.
There are days when you just need chocolate in your life. Personally, chocolate comes in no better form for me than when it’s doused in more chocolate, frosted and baked.
So much so, that I’ve created what I think is the ultimate chocolate bake – the death by chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache drizzle.
As I’ve described in my new book, BAKE, it’s one of those cakes that just makes you go “yessssss!” as you sink your teeth into it. It’s rich and it’s unforgiving. But for me, this cake offers a lot more than just a chocolate fix. It has this almost magic-like ability to turn around even the worst of days, just from the sheer joy it brings.
We all have those moments when there is no answer but to simply indulge. I’m doing a psychology degree, which involves many late nights in front of the laptop and wading deep through textbooks. During those all-nighters there’s nothing better than knowing I’ve stashed away a couple of slices ready for yet another study break.
It’s also perfect for that random Tuesday afternoon when things just aren’t going the right way. It’s pouring down with rain and you’ve realised that your favourite shoes have a hole in the sole, or you step out of the supermarket and one of the bags splits, scattering your weekly shop across the car park. We’ve all been there. But this cake really does have the power to make even those days seem manageable.
This chocolate fudge cake guarantees some serious friends and family points; my daughter absolutely loves it and I forget the amount of times we’ve put the world to rights armed with a slice or two. Its power to unite is one of the things I love the most about it.
Having said that, it is just as tempting to keep this bake a secret. Officially, it serves 12 to 20 people, but that’s only if you tell anyone you’ve made it. Sometimes it tastes even better when you’re the only one who knows it’s there.
Now that’s a bad day we can all sign up for!
Ingredients (serves 12–20)
For the cake:
200g butter, softened
350g soft light brown sugar
seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Camp coffee essence (optional)
6 eggs (at room temperature)
280g wholemeal or regular self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g cocoa powder
210g crème fraiche (at room temperature)
For the chocolate frosting:
120g dark chocolate, melted
180g butter, softened
375g icing sugar
2 tbsp double cream
For the chocolate ganache drizzle:
140ml double cream
140g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, plus extra for grating
3 x 20cm round cake tins
stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4) and line the tins with baking parchment.
Put all of the ingredients for the sponge into a bowl and whisk well until combined. You can do this in a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric whisk. You can also do this by hand, but it does take time and lots of elbow grease! Using a spatula, divide the mixture between the lined tins, smoothing down the tops.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
When the cakes have cooled, mix together the chocolate frosting ingredients. I use my stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat it for a good five minutes, until light and spreadable. You can do this by hand but it will take longer.
Smear a little of the frosting on your cake stand or plate – just a splodge to secure the first sponge. Place a cake layer on top and spread it with a little more frosting. Cover with another cake layer and more frosting.
Top with the remaining cake layer. Very lightly press all the cake layers together, then use a palette knife to spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake so that the sides are nice and straight and the top is flat. I like to do a thin layer first for a crumb-coating, and then place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes for this layer to firm up.
TIP: I like to flip the top cake over, so that you end up with a good flat base for frosting the top and sides.
Take the cake from the freezer and add another thicker layer of the chocolate frosting, having a good play around with the knife so that it is really smooth. Sometimes it helps to run the palette knife under warm water and then carry on smoothing the frosting. Leave it to set a little while you make the ganache drizzle.
Heat the cream in a pan until it is just steaming, but don’t boil it. Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate, leaving it to melt for a few minutes, then stir the chocolate gently and let it cool down a little.
Pour the chocolate ganache drizzle over the cake so that it forms a smooth layer all over the top and then drips nicely down the sides of the cake. Grate over the chocolate and serve.
TIP: For a clean finish, don’t press down too much on the cakes as you’re frosting, as this can cause frosting to bulge out between each cake layer.
Lorraine Pascale’s new book, BAKE, is out now (Bluebird, £20)5446 Views
I’m an ex-model turned baker who feels lucky to be doing the job I love. I’m a TV presenter and judge in the UK and US, and have just released my seventh book. Also studying for a masters in psychology.