I decided to make a chocolate fudge cake this week. I had a cold that felt like it had been sent by the Dementors. It had sucked all the enthusiasm out of me, and had me smearing the soles of my feet with Vicks VapoRub (someone told me that they knew someone who knew someone who swore that this worked – something to do with the principles of reflexology apparently – whether it worked for me, I’m not sure). I really needed cheering up.
I used the Classic Chocolate Fudge Sandwich Cake recipe from the Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking. There were 500g of chocolate in this cake. Surely a cake with that much chocolate in it was bound to taste great…
I made the cake over two days. Sponge first, and then the icing and decoration. I was going to make my own modelling chocolate for a fancy rosette to go on the top. I’d even bought some gold powder to make it look really swish. This would involve a level of concentration that required the children to be elsewhere.
I thought that making the sponge was easy. That is until I woke up in the middle of the night and realised I used far too much chocolate. I whisked up four eggs, vanilla extract and caster sugar in the KitchenAid until the mixture was thick and left a ribbon-like trail when I lifted the whisk out. The Baker’s Guide, at the beginning of the Big Book of Baking says that this will take 4-5 minutes of high-speed whisking. I still don’t trust my KitchenAid at very high speeds, but I got it up to 6 and whisked for about 8 minutes (I had to give it longer than 5 because I was melting my chocolate and butter at the same time, and this was taking longer than I thought).
Once the chocolate and butter had melted and cooled a little I put the whisk on the lowest speed and added the chocolate to the egg mixture. Once it was all combined, I added self-raising flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt and folded it in. I divided the mixture between two 20cm tins and put them in the oven (at 160 fan). I handed the bowl and spoons over to my spoon-licker-and-bowl- scraper-in-chief to deal with.
I checked the cakes after 30 minutes. They needed about 5 more minutes. When I took them out they had risen well, but they were quite crusty on the top. I didn’t really give this any more thought until 4.00am when I woke up and realised that I’d used 75g more chocolate then I should have. Would this have caused a crusty top? Who knows?
So, I didn’t have enough chocolate to make the recipe quantity of icing, or modelling chocolate. I could either take a trip to Tesco and get some more, or be lazy and see if the recipe would work using less chocolate. Well, I took the lazy route. I won’t be doing that again.
The icing may have worked if I hadn’t misread the recipe (again). The book gives two options for filling and icing the cake; a chocolate fudge (which I was making), and a vanilla buttercream. The chocolate fudge required 300g of icing sugar, the vanilla 500g. I read the wrong bit of the recipe and, when I’d put about 350g of icing sugar into the mix I started to wonder why my chocolate fudge was so stiff. I had too little chocolate and too much icing sugar. I’m not sure whether it was a good idea or not to add two decent-sized chunks of softened butter, but it did make the icing a bit easier to work with.
While the cake was chilling, I started on the modelling chocolate. This involved melting some chocolate, stirring in some liquid glucose and waiting for it to set. This took quite a while, at least 45 minutes. I shaped it into a ball and kneaded it in my hands as per the recipe, and rolled it out between two sheets of clingfilm. I was then supposed to cut it into strips and make it into a rosette by pleating along one edge. Here is the result of my effort.
The chocolate wouldn’t bend. I don’t know whether it’s because there wasn’t enough chocolate, whether I didn’t work with it enough, or whether it’s just one of those things that any sensible person would just buy ready-made. I don’t think I’ll be trying it again.
Anyway. Here is my finished, and unadorned cake.
My icing was too hard and I just couldn’t spread it smoothly onto the cake. I had no rosette, and, although the cake did taste pretty chocolatey, I’m afraid it just wasn’t right. The worst thing is, is that it’s all my own fault. If only I’d made that short trip to Tesco…