You know it is funny how things never turn out like you planned, oh, in a good way I might say. I have no intention of making these chocolate cakes at all; in fact I had been planning to make mooncakes over the weekend for the Mooncake Festival this week. As it happened I was swamped with a heavy workload the last couple of weeks and did not have the energy nor desire to spend hours of the weekend in the kitchen making pastries and wrapping mooncakes.
Incidentally I had also bought a stack of these cheap takeaway aluminium foil containers a few weeks earlier because they were for sale at a steal of 10 cents each! Thinking of finding a simple bake that can be done quickly, I remembered a couple of allegedly no-fail chocolate cakes I had found after watching the Nigella Lawson episode of MasterChef Australia earlier this year, I decided on this one to try out. The recipe used milk powder instead of fresh milk and I needed an excuse to use up that half package of the milk powder in my fridge anyway.
I wanted to make the cake differently as stated in the original recipe because I never like the throw-everything-into-the-mixer-and-whiz-away method as they never turned out as well risen as the old-fashioned creaming method, for me anyway. I had also decided to use the foil containers to bake so they can be transported easily if you want to make them to raise money at fêtes (and you should be able to double, triple or increase to whatever amount of the recipe you need to make), as gifts or take them for picnic. Otherwise you can easily eat one first and freeze the other one for later. You can also make an easy ganache, or a quick whipped cream to serve with the cakes if you so desired.
Finally a note for the newbies to baking if you want to try out this recipe – in fact these rules applied to all cake baking – make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting. For example, the butter should be soft which means you should be able to make an indentation easily with a bread knife when you lightly press it down the butter; that is, the butter should be at a soft spreadable stage. In cold winter weather, it is advisable to warm the butter (cut into smaller pieces) in the microwave at the lowest heat setting until soft before using – don’t worry if a little of the butter melts while warming, it will still work. Eggs should be taken out of the fridge for at least 4 – 6 hours in winter time to return to room temperature, or a couple of hours in warm weather, before using. In really cold weather, I would even put the sugar in the stainless steel mixing bowl and leave it in the preheating oven (with oven door ajar) for a couple of minutes until warm before using – the reason being the cold sugar will harden the soft butter very quickly making creaming difficult. If milk is required for a cake recipe, warm up the milk to room temperature or even lukewarm, this help to reduce the chances of cake batter curdling.
Makes 2 small loaves
250g (1 2/3 cups) cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons bicarb. of soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
40g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
50g (1/2 cup) full-cream milk powder
125g butter, softened
280g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250ml (1 cup) water, at room temperature *
* In cold weather, mix 1/4 cup hot water with 3/4 cup room-temperature cold water so the water is not too icy cold.
1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Spray the inside of two aluminium foil containers – base measurements of 15½ cm (L) x 7½ cm x 6½ cm (H) each – with canola oil cooking spray. Sift cake flour, soda, salt, cocoa and milk powder together into a mixing bowl; stir to mix well and set aside.
2. Beat softened butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Mix in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
4. Add 1/3 of the sifted flour mixture and fold in with a spatula. Mix in half of the water. Repeat with the next third of the flour mixture, then the remaining water and finally fold in the last of the flour mixture.
5. Divide the cake batter equally between the two prepared containers; each container should hold about 540g of cake batter if you want to weigh the batter in the case of doubling or tripling the recipe quantity.
6. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours (75 minutes) or until a skewer comes out clean when tested.
Taste: A good soft & fluffy chocolate cake
Consume: Best within 3-4 days
Storage: Store in airtight cake container; may be frozen
Recipe Reference(s): Easy “No Fail” Chocolate Cake