Recipes: Chocolate Sponge

30 Jul

Hello! Isn’t this exciting? The first issue of Yellow Bunting is here at last. Before I get properly started I just want to explain what we’re going to be writing about in the recipes section. Unsurprisingly there will be recipes (!) but I’ll also be talking about healthy eating – it’s not all salad I promise – and about the role food plays in our lives. Whether you’re an enthusiastic cook or a total beginner I hope that you’ll enjoy this section and that it’ll tempt you to get into the kitchen.

Shall we start with chocolate cake? It seems like a good place to begin – you don’t win friends (or readers) with leafy greens after all.
Some of you are probably thinking “didn’t she just say she was going to write about healthy food?!” which I did and I am. Here’s the fun part though; I count chocolate cake as health food! Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I do think that there’s a place for chocolate cake (and crisps and biscuits and whatever else you fancy) in a healthy diet. Particularly on special occasions (which this is – Happy first issue of Yellow Bunting!)

Whoever first said “everything in moderation” had it spot on. I don’t eat cake every day, even I haven’t yet worked out a way to justify that as healthy (but believe me I’m trying). But if I want some cake I’m not going to feel like I’m being unhealthy if I have a slice (or two). Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle; you can’t work out the whole picture from one piece, likewise you can’t judge the way someone eats as healthy or unhealthy based on one slice of chocolate cake.

When I was googling for cake recipes one of the results I got was “five guilt-free recipes to combat your chocolate cake craving” with things like chocolate mousse made out of avocado and cocoa powder. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think avocado mousse is going to combat any cravings (apart from, perhaps, a craving for avocado mousse and I’m not convinced that anyone ever craves that). Not to mention I’d probably feel quite guilty subjecting my taste buds to avocados when they wanted chocolate cake.
I only have one recipe for you today, but I promise it will combat your chocolate cake craving in the way that only chocolate cake can.

Chocolate Sponge

This is a fairly plain chocolate sponge cake but it’s one of my go to recipes for birthday cakes (and magazine launch celebration cakes!). The recipe below is for a double layer cake, although as you can see in the pictures I halved the recipe for a single layer. If you need any clarification on any of the steps in the recipe just ask in the comments, hopefully over time I’ll be able to get some articles up covering some of the basic techniques in cooking and baking.
50 g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
100 g soft butter
300 g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
175 g self-raising flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and grease and line two 8-inch cake tins with baking parchment (or well greased greaseproof paper). Most recipes tell you to use butter for this but I prefer to use a flavourless oil such as sunflower or vegetable.
In a small bowl or mug mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water into a smooth paste. Leave to one side.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, beating continuously. Once the eggs are all in add your cocoa and water paste to the mixture and beat in well.

Your mixture will be full of tiny air bubbles which help give structure to the cake once it’s cooked. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix them in, trying to be as gentle as possible to keep the air in the mixture.
Mix in the milk (and the vanilla extract if using).

Divide between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. When it’s ready it should feel firm and bouncy when you poke it, you can also test by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the centre of your cake, it should come out clean with no raw batter attached.
Once cooked remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack in their tins. After about 20 minutes remove the cakes from their tins and leave them to cool further. Meanwhile get on with the icing…

60 g butter
75 g cocoa powder
350 g icing sugar
80 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Melt the butter (the microwave is easiest), and mix in the cocoa powder. Beat the icing sugar and milk (and vanilla extract) into the butter bit by bit (add all the icing sugar at once and you’ll end up with a cloud of sugar over the kitchen!) Once the icing is smooth it’s ready to go onto a cool cake – never ice a hot cake!
I would normally do a layer of icing between the two cakes and a layer on top. Jam is a nice addition between the layers too; raspberry or cherry are my favourites!

About the writer: Catherine is a biology geek by day and cake baker by night. When she’s not in the kitchen you’ll be able to find her writing, tending to her tomato plant or curled up reading one of her many cookbooks.

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