Originally published on the Blog of Blore on 4/3/14
When I was a kid, my mum used to bake me a chocolate cake for every birthday*. It was a chocolate sponge filled with chocolate buttercream, and firmly established my idea of what a birthday cake should be. At some point in my teenage years, she gave up this habit, and started serving Sara Lee chocolate gateaux from Iceland. It was never the same.
Over the years since then, I’ve tried a few times, with a few different recipes, to recreate the glory of my mum’s chocolate cake, but without much success. Until last year. For my daughter’s fourth birthday, I struck upon the perfect recipe, at least for my tastes. It’s dark, moist and achieves just the right balance between the cocoa and the sugar. I feel bad for saying it, but I think it’s better than my mum’s.
Anyway, this year was Izzy’s fifth birthday, and she requested that we make the same cake again (she’s a creature of habit). I was happy to oblige. In fact, I have every intention of making this cake for her every year, until she’s at least 30.
I make the chocolate buttercream filling first. In fact, I made twice the quantity shown below, but it was a bit too much – maybe just add 50% to these figures.
110g butter, softened
170g icing sugar
55g cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp milk
Put the butter and half the icing sugar in a food processor and blend.
Add the remaining icing sugar, cocoa powder and one tablespoon of the milk and blend till creamy.
Add a little more milk if necessary to loosen the icing.
Now for the chocolate sponge.
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g cocoa powder
175g butter, softened
2 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 ml sour cream
Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line and butter two 20 cm sandwich tins with removable bases.
Put all the ingredients into the same food processor you used for the buttercream (no need to clean it) and blend till you have a smooth, thick batter.
Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the tins.
Bake for around 25 – 35 minutes until a knife comes out clean. I switched the two cakes around in the oven after 13 minutes, check after another 13 minutes, and then left it for another 2 minutes, but it will depend on your oven and your tins.
Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks.
Once the cakes have fully cooled, choose the largest/ugliest and use it as the bottom half.
Spread the butrercream thickly on it, using a spatula, so you have a 1-1.5cm layer (depending how much you decided to make).
Place the other cake on top, dust with icing sugar and you’re done!
* At least, that’s how I remember it. As I was looking through the family photos for this post, there was definitely evidence of other cakes. But those are not the ones I remember 🙂