I've been wanting to develop my own reliable chocolate cake recipe for some time, and I think this is it! It's a fairly traditional, all-purpose chocolate cake, just with a couple of twists in the form of dark brown sugar and honey in place of the usual white sugar. It's made extra delectable by the addition of a luscious chocolate buttercream that is sandwiched in the middle and slathered on top. What more could you want?
Note: For gluten-freen, substitute an all-purpose gluten-free flour for the plain flour.
for the cake:
200g unsalted butter, softened + 1 t extra
200g (1 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
90ml (just under 1/4 cup) honey
1 t vanilla extract
200g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour, sifted (or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
55g (3/4 cup) cocoa, sifted + 1 t extra
1/2 t baking powder
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
100ml hot water
for the icing:
250g unsalted butter, softened
500g (3 1/2 cups) soft icing sugar mixture, sifted
55g (3/4 cup) cocoa, sifted
100ml (just over 1/3 cup) milk
1 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 160°C and prepare a 20cm cake tin. To do this, cut a circle of non-stick baking paper to fit the base of the tin, then thoroughly coat the inside walls with a teaspoon of softened butter, before dusting with a teaspoon of cocoa, making sure it is evenly coated and tapping out any excess (do this over the sink).
In a large mixing bowl using a handheld beater or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, honey and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine sifted cocoa, flour and baking powder. Add to the butter and sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk and mixing on the lowest speed to just combine. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Still on a low speed, mix in the hot water. Do not overmix. With a large spoon or spatula, give the batter a final few stirs to ensure there are no dry pockets of flour and the batter is of an even texture. It should have a mousse-like consistency.
Spoon into the prepared tin, smoothing the top as much as possible, and bake for 60min or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out (mostly) clean. A couple of moist crumbs are fine. Leave to cool in the tin for 10min before turning onto a wire cake rack to cool completely. Don't be concerned if a few cracks appear, they will close up slightly as the cake cools and sinks, and they will be covered with icing later anyway.
While the cake is in the oven, make the icing. Again using a handheld or stand mixer, beat butter until light and creamy. Gradually add icing sugar and mix on a low speed to combine. Add cocoa powder, milk and vanilla and beat again, gradually increasing the speed and mixing until the icing is silky and voluminous. Add a dash more milk if the icing is too stiff.
When the cake is completely cold, place on a cake stand or turntable if you have one and split into two halves. To do this, use a long-bladed serrated knife and position it horizontally at the half-way point on the side of the cake. While applying gentle pressure but keeping the knife still, slowly turn the cake. Keep gently pushing into the cake as you turn until you have cut all the way through. Remove the top half of the cake to a clean board or plate.
Dollop half the buttercream onto the bottom cake layer and gently spread out with an offset spatula or other wide, flat knife to within a centimetre or so of the edge. Carefully position the top layer over the bottom, pressing down gently, and dollop on the remaining portion of buttercream. Spread icing to the edges, making large swirls as you go. Serve.
This cake will serve for any celebratory occasion, (though I'm posting it now in time for Father's Day), and can easily be fancied up with berries, flowers, or even doubled, cooked in two tins and stacked to make an impressive towering cake (though I haven't done this, so proceed at your own risk!). You could also substitute white or light brown sugar for the dark if that's what you have, but the dark brown sugar does add a seductive, molasses-mood, and the honey adds a subtle floral complexity (please use a good, raw honey if you can). What I like about this recipe is that while it's indulgent, it's very accessible. By only using cocoa powder it is easy to make with store-cupboard basics, and less expensive too. Nothing is lost by this approach, however, as this cake is intensely chocolatey and fudgey, but not heavy. I did test this with a gluten-free flour and it worked just the same, so go ahead and substitute the wheat flour for a gluten-free alternative if required.
I hope you enjoy it, whatever the occasion, or even if there is not occasion at all. Sometimes you just need chocolate cake. I know I do.
You don't need to be a dietician to know this is good for you, but that's not all it has going for it. Food, for me, has to be delicious first and foremost and I love the more complex, nutty flavours you get here in contrast to plain oat porridge. Porridge, of course, can be made from any grain, and you could certainly substitute your favourites here, some brown rice, for example, would be lovely. I happen to love this combination and I hope you do too.
Approx. 150g, or 3/4 cup dry weight is sufficient for two adults, depending on appetite. On that calculation, this quantity will yield around 9 serves.
200g rolled oats
100g steel-cut oats
100g pearl barley
100g whole buckwheat
100g cracked (bulghur) wheat
100g amaranth (substitute quinoa)
Apple cider vinegar (optional, substitute lemon juice)
Sea salt flakes (optional)
Combine grains and store in an airtight jar. The night before you want to make porridge, measure out the required amount, and put in a glass jar or jug with half a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per person and enough water to cover by about 2cm. Cover with a lid or cloth and leave on the kitchen bench overnight.
The next morning, place porridge, the soaking liquid and more fresh water (enough to cover) into a saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes if desired. Stir over moderate heat, adding more water if necessary, for 15-20min or until you have a porridge consistency to your liking. Serve with whatever you like.
If so inclined, I encourage you to add some live yoghurt and fresh or stewed fruit for sweetness to your bowl, which makes for a pretty awesome, power-packed, and gut-friendly breakfast. I am not so virtuous as to eat this every day, and I only eat it because I love the flavour and texture, as well as the slight smug feeling of having made something from scratch, as basic as it may be. I use the rolled oats to ensure the final product is lovely and creamy, so although I have six grains listed, it's only five different grains in total. I consider porridge a winter breakfast exclusively, and I think this is the perfect foil to all the delicious poached or baked fruits you can have at this time of year - quinces, pears and apples especially - but any fresh or cooked fruit would be delicious, I like this combination of soft, sweet-sour quince with the crisp apple matchsticks. Not something I would bother with every day, but when you feel like being a little bit fancy…But really, the classic brown sugar and cream, or milk and honey are also sublime. Add cinnamon for good measure.
I can't recall where I read the tip on adding vinegar to the soaking water (and it was such an excellent website!), but from my cursory reading since, I know that the acid helps to break down the phytic acid in the grains. It is this phytic acid which inhibits the bioavailability of key nutrients. I am certainly not trained in nutrition, and am not presuming any expertise, but it is widely accepted that soaking grains both improves the uptake of essential nutrients, and increases their digestibility. It also has the obvious benefit of making the cooking time shorter, and as long as you remember to soak them the night before, this porridge couldn't be simpler. I hope you try it, do let me know how you go if you do!
I developed this recipe in response to the flour and egg shortages we were experiencing due to the small numbers of people panic-buying at the height of the anxiety about COVID-19. However, it is a really good recipe, and obviously great for those who avoid gluten or eggs for allergy-related reasons also! I hope you enjoy them.
Makes 22-24 cookies
125g softened unsalted butter
175g (1 cup) brown sugar, lightly packed
1 t vanilla extract (optional)
200g (2 cups) rolled oats, 1 cup ground into a semi-coarse flour
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1 t fresh grated ginger
180 g (1 cup) raisins
Preheat oven to 170C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla, if using, until pale and creamy.
Add oat flour, remaining rolled oats, ground spices and baking powder. Stir to combine. Stir in grated ginger and raisins.
Roll mixture into ping-pong sized balls and place onto baking tray. I prefer to cook one tray at a time to control the results.
Bake for 10min or until just coloured around the edges. Leave on the trays for 10 min to allow the cookies to set, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.
About The Daughter's Table
The Daughter's Table is a living archive of recipes and stories. It is inspired by my daughter, and the desire to create a food legacy that connects us to what we eat and why.