20 February 2014

Nicki's Chocolate Cake

After a lot of attention on Instagram I think it's finally time to let this one out of the cake tin. I've mentioned it a few times (here and here... oh and here) but not actually let you in on the secret. The secret is that this recipe is so simple. Put it this way... I was learning to play the piano for around 8 years and never once remember the simplest tune off by heart. Despite making one particular cookie recipe well over a dozen times last year, I still couldn't tell you how many eggs it requires. BUT. This recipe I know. I know it like riding a bike, like singing Happy Birthday, like brushing my teeth.

It has so many happy memories attached to it and not just for me but for a lot of family friends. Every birthday Nicki would make her chocolate cake (Hi Mum!). There were a few Birthdays when I was little dissapointed that I didn't have a caterpillar cake or a photo cake like everyone else, but... I tried one once (a caterpillar cake) and the whole "Nicki's-Chocolate-Cake-Situation" was neurtralised - I realised that my Mum had been treating me to one of the best chocolate cakes ever... annually!

It's a not a deep, dark, rich, complex number. It's a spongey, sweet milk chocolate, warm-with-ice-cream-and-topped-with-smarties number. Always smarties. Placed on top in a letter or a number. How could I forget to mention that you really should adorn this cake with smarties? Just like when you use naturally dyed sprinkles for a funfetti cake, the colours run after a day or two and the smarties look like your fingers when they have been in water too long - shrivelled, as the colour seeps. It's all part of being a very special Nicki's Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Cake*

9oz margirine (stork is a familiar choice in my household)
9oz caster sugar
8oz self-raising flour
1oz cocoa powder
3 eggs

Preheat oven to around 175 degrees centigrade.
First cream the marg + sugar together til light and well-combined.

Weigh out your self-raising flour and cocoa powder to a separate bowl  Add one egg and a third of the flour/cocoa mixture to the bowl containing the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined.

Add another egg and another third of the dry ingredients and combine. Do this with the remaining egg and dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Divide between two 15cm cake tins.

Bake in your preheated oven for between 25-40 mins. Try not to open your oven until the cake looks nicely domed. If you open the oven too early your cake may sink. Try to open the door as little as possible - peering in often does the trick.

How do I tell when my cake is cooked? Help!
The best way to tell if you cake is cooked is by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick in to the cake - if it comes out without batter on it, then you cake is cooked.

Alternatively my Mum uses the tip of her finger to test the cake. If the cake bounces back when pressed lightly, then it is cooked. Be careful though - you are touching a cake straight from the oven... Not so wise.

Butter Icing (for the middle)

160g Unsalted Butter (not marg)
160g Icing Sugar
100g Drinking Chocolate
1-2 tbsp milk (as required)

Beat your butter to soften.

Add the icing sugar and drinking chocolate a bit at a time. 

If the icing still seems too stiff to spread, add 1tbsp of milk at a time to achieve the correct consistency.

Put a small blob of butter icing on your plate and place the first cake layer on top - this will stop the cake from sliding about.

Spread the icing with a knife... right to the edge.

Runny Icing (for the top layer)

300g Icing Sugar
100g Hot Chocolate
Water (as required - start with 4 tbsp)

Mix - that's it!! You will need to add water 1 tbsp at a time and mix REALLY thoroughly before you add more water - it quickly turns from a powdery muddle to a brown puddle.

Halve the recipe if you don't like such a thick layer. Add 1 tbsp of extra water if you want the icing to literally run off the side of the cake rather than 'sitting neat'.

To help spread the icing, dip your knife in boiling hot water and spread - this stops the icing from sticking to the knife.

*Although I'm a metric girl, I'm giving the ingredients in ounces as this is how I learnt them - plus it makes the recipe so easy to learn off by heart and that is what I would love - for someone else to learn this recipe and pass it on.

How did you get on? How did your chocolate cake turn out? I'm desperate to know what everyone makes of the recipe - good or bad.

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