When you bake for people who have never really done much home baking, they’re always so impressed. They can’t believe you can actually make something they’ve only ever bought from a shop. And even if it only tastes pretty good, anything homemade probably tastes better than what people get from a factory. They’re so happy to be eating cake at a meeting on a Wednesday, that they don’t pay much attention to how it looks. They just can’t believe their luck. Then someone always says, “You should go on Bake Off.”
I love to bake, and I hope to keep doing it for a long time, but there is no way in a million years I could ever go on Bake Off. Even my husband, who knows how stressful baking can be, and how many failures I’ve had, will sometimes say this to me. It’s a completely ridiculous idea. A quick skim of my recipe archives should be enough to convince anyone that I don’t bake with the precision required for a baking competition show, but I thought I’d convince everybody once and for all that I would be a total Bake Off flop.
Probably once a month, I’ll bring you a new post featuring a Bake Off challenge, and I’ll let you know exactly what Paul, Mary, and Prue would probably say about my bakes. I’m not just doing this so you’ll get off my back about it already, but also to remind you that your home baking doesn’t have to be Bake Off-worthy to be absolutely awesome. Baking for yourself and your friends and family is always worth the time, no matter what it looks like. Every recipe will be delicious and ugly and something anyone can make at home.
The first ever signature challenge on the premiere episode of The Great British Bake Off was for the contestants to make their signature cakes. The judge’s favorite was a layered lemon drizzle, and I think that would have been the slice I chose as well.
I don’t think I have a signature cake, but I had already decided to share this Chocolate Fudge Cake with you, and I thought a light, moist chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting is probably the cake people would most associate with me.
I’m not into fancy flavors. I hate matcha, and I don’t know if I’ve ever tasted yuzu. I like simple, classic, sweet flavors. And if there’s chocolate, so much the better. This is the kind of cake my mom would have baked, and the kind of cake I will always want to eat. If there’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go along with it, even better.
This cake came out of the oven a bit uneven because I slightly overfilled my cake pans since they were slightly smaller than instructed. I trimmed off the edges that crept out onto the lip of the pan while baking, but I didn’t bother to level the cake, which I’m sure Mary Berry would have found mortifying. This cake is totally wonky. It’s also ever so slightly underbaked because my oven is the worst. Paul would have been sure to mention this. I also didn’t bother to get out my piping bag because I’m lazy. I covered the ragged edge at the bottom of the cake with Cadbury buttons, but other than that, I just smoothed the frosting on with a small offset spatula. Prue would have given me low points for effort and technique.
This cake is totally achievable for a beginning home baker, and it tastes absolutely beautiful. You can even freeze the layers and frost them later if life gets away from you. Everybody will want to eat this, and they’ll probably tell you to go on Bake Off. We don’t need that kind of judgment. We just need to eat cake and be happy.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
- 400 grams plain flour
- 250 grams caster sugar
- 100 grams brown sugar
- 50 grams cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 140 ml sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 175 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 125 ml vegetable oil
- 300 ml water
For the Chocolate Frosting
- 175 grams dark chocolate, melted
- 250 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 275 grams powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter two 20 cm round cake tins and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In another bowl or a measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until well combined.
- In the bowl of your freestanding mixer or in yet another large mixing bowl, beat together the melted butter and vegetable oil to combine, then beat in the water.
- Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed to combine.
- Add the egg mixture, and beat again until everything is blended. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it another mix with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is completely mixed.
- Divide the batter between your waiting pans and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, make sure to melt your chocolate first so that it can sit and cool a few minutes before it gets mixed in. The easiest way is to do this in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for a couple of minutes to lighten it up, then beat in the powdered sugar until it’s smooth and fluffy.
- Finally, add the melted but slightly cooled chocolate and the vanilla, and mix until fully combined and beautifully brown.
- Frost and decorate your cake however you like. No matter how it turns out, it will taste amazing.
Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson