Recipe 144 – Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is the first recipe in the Section Celebration Cakes in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and I must admit the first line sold it to me … “This is a very close-textured ‘fudgy’ cake that needs no filling”.  Fudgy did it for me, I needed no more persuasion to why I should make it.

Having been shopping and bought some  chocolate as I had intended on making this at the weekend, but due to the fact that somebody had found my hoard of chocolate and eaten quite a lot of it, I was unable to.  However, with my husband at work and the children at school there was no stopping me today!

This recipe has no flour in it at all, instead ground almonds are used to give flavour and texture.

First things first, the oven was put on to preheat at 170°C.  You were meant to use a 23cm (9″) tin for this, but I don’t, as you know from other posts I’ve done, have a tin this size, so I had to use a slightly smaller one.  I had actually looked at cake tins when I went shopping this week, but I had a complete blank over which size I needed.  I decided not to buy one as I knew it would be a size I already had when I got home.  I will make a note and put it in my handbag so next time I’m shopping, I will get the right size – although there are probably no more recipes in this book that require a 23cm tin!  With the tin greased and the base lined it was time to get on with the cake.

6 large eggs are required for this recipe.  I wish my chickens were back to laying again, I hate buying eggs and they seem so expensive now too.  Five of the eggs had to be separated and the egg yolks put into a bowl, together with one whole egg.  The whites were kept back for use later on in the recipe.  To the yolks I added 215g caster sugar.  That seemed an odd amount!  This was beaten together with my good old hand mixer – I think I’m going to have to purchase a new one soon, or perhaps treat myself to a stand mixer as I think it’s seen better days and has been a little overworked recently.  However it coped and the mixture was whisked together until it was thick and light in colour.

The next stage was to melt the chocolate.  265g plain chocolate was weighed out and broken into pieces and put into a bowl.  This was gently heated over a pan of simmering water and stirred occasionally until dissolved.  To this you were meant to add 1 level teaspoon of instant coffee granules that had been dissolved in a teaspoon of hot water.  Instead I used a teaspoon of  Camp Coffee and warmed it very slightly as I did not want my chocolate to seize when it was added.  This was mixed in and then left to cool slightly.

Whilst the mixture was cooling I weighed out 150g ground almonds – I don’t know if anybody else is like me but I always seem to have bags and bags of ground almonds in my cupboard.  The worrying thing is I don’t remember buying them, it must be something that I always put in my trolley when I’m shopping!  The ground almonds and cooled chocolate were added to the egg mixture and stirred in until blended.

In a separate bowl I now had to whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  I carefully added a good spoonful to my chocolate mixture and folded it in before adding the remaining whisked egg whites.  Once they had been folded into the chocolate mixture, it was time to turn it into the prepared tin.  Mary does say to gently level the surface, but my mixture levelled itself!

The cake was placed in the oven for 50 minutes.  After this time it looked very similar to a chocolate brownie on the top, slightly cracked.  A skewer put into the centre came out clean, so it was removed from the oven and left in the tin for 10 minutes to cool.  A near catastrophe was avoided when turning it out.  For some reason I forgot it was a loose bottomed tin.  I slid the tin across the worktop onto my hand and picked it up, out popped the cake, but luckily I managed just in time to flip it onto the cooling rack.  A few of the ‘cracked’ bits from the top broke off, but otherwise it was ok!

My daughter had wanted me to make a chocolate cake for ages and as she finished school at lunchtime, I was hoping to get this done by the time she came home, but unfortunately although the cake was cooked, I hadn’t iced it – much to her frustration – she’d have to wait a little longer.

After taking the dog out for a walk and returning home to finish making the Bath Buns, I finally got round to icing the cake.

4 tablespoons of apricot jam were warmed and melted and then brushed over the cake.  I actually think 2 tablespoons would have been adequate as I had quite a lot left over even though the whole cake had been covered.  The icing was made by melting 225g plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Once the chocolate had melted it was removed from the heat and 100g unsalted butter was added.  I had cut the butter up into tiny cubes so it would melt quickly.  This was stirred until all the butter had melted and the icing had the consistency of thick pouring cream.

Mary suggest standing the cake on the wire rack and placing a baking tray under the middle to catch any drips – my daughter and I had other ideas, we didn’t want any waste, so the cake was put straight onto a plate and any drips would be collected at the bottom and eaten with the cake!  The icing was poured over the top and smoothed with a palette knife over both the top and sides.  It was then a case of leaving it to set – much to my daughter’s horror as she had been waiting all afternoon for this!

Mary does say to decorate the cake with crystallized flowers and the book does tell you how to do this.  I think if it had been summer and I had flowers out in the garden I would have liked to try this, but the only thing flowering in the garden at the moment are snowdrops, which I think are poisonous, so I decided against this.

Tastewise, the cake was as it says in the heading absolutely ‘divine’, it did indeed have a very fudgy texture.  Everybody agreed it was the best chocolate cake they have ever tasted – it won’t be around for long I’m sure.  Will I make it again – most definitely!

Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

Date baked – 30th January 2013


7 thoughts on “Recipe 144 – Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

  1. It does indeed look divine. I have a very similar recipe, the only difference I can see is mine has no coffee in it and I don’t ice it. So I know it really is one of the best chocolate cakes.

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