I have a chocolate cake recipe that is tried and true and tested and, dare I say, faultless. It is so good, a couple of friends and I once decided to start turning down any requests for it on the basis that it was an old family secret. I like to think we built up a bit of an aura around this cake. In actual fact, the recipe first came to me from my sister, who got it, I believe, from a book called 'Kitchen' by Michele Cranston. It was the recipe I used when my friend Aimee asked me to make her wedding cake. I turned to it again for my own wedding cake. It has been a birthday cake, dinner party dessert, just-because cake and, most recently, swathed in white plastic icing, a christening cake.
I'm not sure why it is so good. It's not overflowing with chocolate or eggs, though it feels as luxurious as if it had a kilo of one and a dozen of the other. I think the coffee gives it a bit of something special. And the nearly half kilogram of sugar probably doesn't hurt. But it's easy to throw together, hard to stuff up, and while it may look ugly when it comes out of the oven, it settles down into a nearly smooth surface for ease of decorating. It freezes well and is actually better after a stint in the fridge. It is my go-to perfect chocolate cake. And now, from me to you, an old family secret recipe, passed down through the generations...
200g dark chocolate
375ml strong coffee
450g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a saucepan, combine butter, chocolate and coffee over low heat until melted together. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Whisk in flour, baking powder and cocoa (sifted), then whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Pour into a lined and greased 20-23cm tin. Bake for one hour.
Note: It's better if the chocolate is excellent and the coffee is real, not instant. Believe me, I've tried. I used to always bake it in a 23cm springform tin. Most recently I did it in a standard 20cm tin. I think the extra height and density made it all the better.