This is the chocolate cake of my childhood. One mouthful and I am transported to happy memories of chocolatey cake crumbs and ice cold milk.
But the chocolate cake of my childhood was not this large. It was not supersized. Nothing was in the 80s. In fact everything was small and dainty, for that was the trend. But there is integrity in good sized bakes. I am not a dainty girl, nor do I wish to be. I’ve never knowingly ordered a small portion of anything. Disappointment is mine when something bird like appears in a restaurant.
So, to celebrate cake week on the Great British Bake Off (which I was a finalist in, ooh, FIVE years ago) I am giving you my all time favourite chocolate cake recipe. This supersedes anything I have given you before. All the others are mighty fine, this though, this is the best. (So far… I reserve the right to produce an even better chocolate cake at some point in the future).
I thought I would use this blog to answer some popular questions I get asked about GBBO (as the Bake Off is commonly known in social media world). Here goes.
Is Paul as scary as he seems?
Yes. If he isn’t keen on you and your baking style, yes.
Is Mary as lovely as she seems?
Mary IS lovely. Yes she is. BUT – she is also quite business like, which I really respect her for. She is fair and does not get close to the contestants, which is admirable. Having said that, I have seen her twice since GBBO and she has been friendly and asked after the boys.
What happens to all the cakes and bakes?
The crew and contestants eat it. I put on at least half a stone from day 1 of filming to the end of episode 8.
Why do you wear the same clothes on both days of filming?
For continuity purposes. There is a common held belief in TV land that the general public will not be able to cope with seeing different contestants in different outfits.
Did you enjoy it?
At the time, I found it hard. It is VERY stressful. You make mistakes you would never, ever make at home. I forgot to add vanilla extract to my sponges in the final. I weighed ingredients out incorrectly more than once. You are under pressure. You’re aware every week this amazing experience might come to an end. You don’t want to leave the party early. (I never do). I got ill at about week 6 point and ended up on antibiotics for a chest infection. I have never been good with stress. I also lost all hearing in my left ear. It came back the day after we filmed the final. Go figure. I also had a very young family when we filmed. Max was 6 months old and Charlie 2 and a half. I missed them. I had a lot of guilt. But that’s mothering really, isn’t it?
How long does it take to film?
In 2011 there were 8 episodes filmed in 6 weeks. We started off filming each weekend and then towards the end we sped up and only had a couple of days off between filming. It is no shock to me that when everything sped up I got ill.
What’s the application process like?
No idea these days but back in 2011 it was long. A paper application (7 sides of A4), a phone interview, a face to face presentation of 2 signature bakes to Mary and Paul, a screen test, a filmed bake in a kitchen with other applicants including taking two Hollywood bakes with you to have them critiqued by the man himself in front of a camera. Then an appointment with a psychologist. Then you’re in. Phew!
Do you enjoy watching it now?
Hmmm. I do watch it, but I view in an empathetic way. I know how they are feeling. I wince at their mistakes, as they are my mistakes too.
Are you pleased you did it?
Hell yeah! Of course I am. It was bloody hard work but it changed my life forever.
Are you all friends from your year?
Ha ha ha. No. I am very good friends with Jo. Some of the contestants were not as nice as you might think they were once edited for TV. But that’s life isn’t it? Not everyone’s a good egg. And you never know what each person’s story is, so you rise about it. (Sorry, bad baking joke).
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available through Amazon).
Two years ago: Salmon and asparagus quiche, Rosemary chicken Dijon stew, Lemon, blueberry and white chocolate cupcakes, Apple, ginger and maple syrup cake and my Grandma’s Cornish ginger fairings from my book
- For the cake:
- 150g butter, salted or unsalted but I tend to use salted
- 250mls water
- 250g dark chocolate, finely chopped (not NOT use milk, it will not work)
- 300g plain flour
- 60g cocoa
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 550g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 30mls olive oil
- 90mls milk
- 10mls lemon juice (from a bottle is fine)
- For the ganache icing:
- 300mls double cream
- 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas mark 3 and line 2 x 20cm round tins. Melt together the butter, cold water and chocolate for the cake in a saucepan. Once melted remove from the heat and set aside. Mix together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and sugar. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the dry mixture along with the eggs and oil. Beat for 4 minutes until smooth. In the meantime add the lemon juice to the milk to sour it. Add this to the cake mixture and beat for another minute until really creamy and smooth. Divide equally between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 50 - 55 minutes until well risen a toothpick comes out of the centre of the cakes clean. Cool on a wire rack, out of the tins. Make the icing by scalding the cream in a saucepan (where it bubbles at the outer edges) and then stir in all the chopped chocolate until smooth. Leave to set at room temperature. Once thick use to sandwich and ice the cake.
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