Without hesitation, I can say that it is not ideal to catch an ENT bug requiring antibiotics the same week you are planning your significant other’s significant birthday surprise celebration. Being laid up in bed with a 16-month old racing around the house does not auger well when trying to shop, bake and hide the results.
Thankfully it’s still school holidays and luckily for me, teenage nephew was at a loose end. It seemed a mere detail that he’d never babysat nor gardened before – both tasks I’d assigned him. And, I must say it was pretty cute seeing the boys sitting on the sofa side-by-side watching cricket when I returned home from the supermarket (I didn’t realise it was on the telly 24/7). However, a feel of dread quickly overcame me. Cricket is not a sport to actively encourage your child to participate in – well, certainly not my child. It’s an all day affair (or 2, 4 or 5 day marathon if they get really good at it) that takes up valuable cooking time. I’m OK with tennis or football – or most sports really, just please (whoever might be listening) don’t give him the cricket gene.
Boys settled in the living room, I busiest myself in the kitchen getting done whatever ‘secret’ stuff I could think of before birthday boy returned home from his day’s toil. My biggest concern was the cake. I’d made it in a mental fog the previous day and hadn’t gotten around to icing it by mid-afternoon. Eeeek. When you need a reliable rich fudge cake, this is the recipe. I can’t remember where it came from and have altered it over the years. It is pleasingly simple.
(Please, no comments about the candle – all class I know)
What you’ll need
- 1/3 C cocoa
- 1/3 C hot water (off the boil)
- 150g dark chocolate (I use Whittakers 72%)
- 150g butter
- 1 C brown sugar (reasonably firmly packed)
- 1 C ground almonds
- 4 eggs, separated (I use size 7)
How to make it
- Grease 19cm round tin and line with baking paper.
- Turn oven to 160C.
- Combine the cocoa and water in a small bowl or measuring jug and mix until smooth.
- Pop the chocolate, broken into small pieces, and butter into a saucepan. Very gently heat, stirring until chocolate is almost melted. Take off the heat and stir until all chocolate melts. Take care not to burn the chocolate.
- Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture, then the cocoa/water. Mix to combine.
- Sift the almonds into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the liquid ingredients.
- Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time.
- In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peak stage.
- Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture in two-three batches.
- Pour mixture into the tin and bake until firm and “smells” ready – depending on the tin I use, I’ve cooked for anywhere between 50 minutes and an hour fifteen. I usually cover with foil at about 35-40 minutes.
- Cool the cake in pan. (I left it overnight).
- Serve with whipped cream or icecream. Can ice with ganache or chocolate icing if desired.
There is nothing slightly healthy about this treat – however, it is a gluten-free beauty to pull out if you need one. It lasts for days (day four today and still scrummy). I doubled the recipe for this particular cake and cooked it in a 23cm tin – it took just over an hour and a half to cook. It also makes a great wedding cake and, providing you add supports to the bottom tier, you can layer as I did for my sister’s wedding below.
Oh, and the babysitting and gardening went great – I have unearthed a gem. Thanks Damon.