Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cockeyed chocolate cake and a selection of toppings

Many years ago, my mom had a recipe book that contained all sorts of shortcuts and lazy ways to do stuff. It was by Peg Bracken, and I think it was called "The I Hate to Cookbook". I still use some of the recipes out of it today. I used this one just last week. My son and three of his classmates pulled an all-nighter in our lounge, watching videos as part of their history studies on counter-culture (they're also planning to visit Jimi Hendrix's house in London... I wish my history syllabus had been so interesting!).

What makes this recipe a bit different is that you mix it up and bake it in the same container, so make sure you choose a container that will work for both activities. You're not going to get a prizewinning cake top sell at a WI stall, here. You're going to get something suitable for the family or for a horde of teenagers.

Oven temperature

750ml sifted flour
45ml cocoa
5ml bicarbonate of soda
250ml sugar
2.5ml salt
75ml cooking oil
15ml vinegar
5ml vanilla extract
250ml cold water

  • Grease a baking tin, preferably a round one, about 23cm in diameter, and about 5cm deep.
  • Put sifted flour back into the sieve with cocoa, sugar and salt and sift it straight into the baking tin.
  • Make 3 hollows. Into one, pour the oil, into the second, pour the vinegar and into the last, pour the vanilla.
  • Dissolve the bicarb in the water and pour it over the whole lot.
  • Mix it all up with a spoon until it is almost smooth and no dry flour is visible.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or so until the sponge is firm to the touch. Test with a skewer for readiness (the skewer should come out dry and clean).
  • Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack for topping later.

You could just eat the cake as is with custard, cream or ice cream, but I'm going to spoil you today with a list of possible cake toppings that you can try with this recipe or any other cake/cupcakes you bake:
  1. After Eights, Matchmakers or peppermint creams (I used Matchmakers on this occasion). Spread chocolates all over the top of the baked cake, pop it back under the grill for a moment or three until they melt, and then spread them with a knife.
  2. 500ml icing sugar, sifted with a pinch of salt. Add 5ml vanilla extract and then beat in a little cream. Add cream until you get the consistency you want. Spread this over a cooled cake.
  3. Remove the cake(s) from the oven about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Allow to cool slightly. Spread with a mixture of 60ml softened butter, 160ml brown sugar,  30ml cream, and 'some' chopped nuts/dessicated coconut. Return to the oven for the last 5 minutes, or until the frosting bubbles (whichever is the longer).
  4. Place a marshmallow on top of each cupcake, or space them evenly across the top of a larger cake and pop under the grill under the marshmallow browns.

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