This cake recipe is the taste of my childhood; it’s the classic go-to Caldecott chocolate cake, that makes an appearance at virtually every special occasion. My mother never really liked baking, so she relied on the speed and simplicity of this recipe whenever a cake was needed, and we loved it.
After years of playing around with the basic recipe I’ve realised that it can be adapted in various different directions: if you use plain flour, you get a very dense, gooey, brownie-like texture that’s particularly great for a single cake, served simply with a dusting of icing sugar. Made this way, it tastes a lot like the classic French moelleux au chocolat. Or, if you want a more “cakey cake”, you can make it in two smaller round tins with self-raising flour, sandwiched together and finished off with buttercream icing. The cooking time for these two options are slightly different, but both work really well.
Prep time: 15 mins // Bake time: 20-35 mins
Ingredients for the cake:
– 6 oz (170g) good quality dark chocolate
– 2 oz (57g) butter
– 4 eggs
– pinch of salt
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 7 oz (190g) caster sugar
– 4 1/2 oz (128g) self-rising flour or plain flour
Ingredients for the icing (optional – and, I do the amounts by eye):
– Butter (approx. 3 oz)
– Icing sugar (approx. 6 oz)
– Good quality dark chocolate (approx. 4 oz)
– A dash of boiling water if you need to create a more malleable, spreadable consistency
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl or jug over boiling water. Set this aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
Beat the eggs with the salt, vanilla, and then sift in the caster sugar, and give it all a good stir. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs, and mix well. Now sift in the flour, and combine it all gently.
Pour the mixture into a large lined/greased cake tin or two smaller sandwich tins and bake for about 15-20 minutes in the centre of the oven (make sure the rack’s not too high up in particularly hot ovens!) if you’re using two tins, 30-35 minutes if you’re using one tin. The cooking time varies slightly based on how hot your oven tends to run, and how gooey you like the centre of your cake; so, if you love a gooey cake and are baking a single cake, it’s safest to set an alarm for 25 mins and then check how the centre is looking at that point. When it’s ready, the top should have a fine shiny crust that will have bubbled and cracked slightly, and the centre should be ever so slightly gooey still (but not pure cake batter!).
If you’re sandwiching two cakes together, whip up some simple buttercream icing for the centre and the top. You can use your own favourite recipe for this, but I like to melt some more chocolate with some butter, then leave this to cool slightly, before adding a touch more butter and lots of icing sugar. I stir it all up well, adding a little splash of hot water if it gets too stiff, and some more icing sugar if it’s not stiff enough. If you’re going for one, simple cake you don’t even need to worry about icing; you can just dust the cake lightly with some icing sugar once it has cooled. It’s lovely served with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sour cream, and whatever berries are in season.