The credit for this cake goes 100% to Deb from the Smitten Kitchen blog. This is one of my favourite food blogs out there, and when I saw her picture of this cake on Instagram a few weeks ago I knew straight away that I had to make it. Happily, it coincided with my other half’s birthday and with his only request for his cake being “chocolate, chocolate, chocolate” this seemed like it was the only and ideal solution.
This cake was a complete success. Although it’s really all about the piles of sweet chocolatey buttercream on top, the sponge itself was delicious. It’s dense, almost like a brownie, but the overall effect is not too overwhelming as it’s a fairly thin sponge cut into small pieces. Instead of using buttermilk as in the original recipe, I went for Deb’s suggestion of substituting for red wine. On the day I baked it, we didn’t think the red wine flavour came through strongly, although it did add some much needed acidity to cut through the rich chocolate flavour, but on the second and third days after mellowing in the fridge you could definitely taste the red wine. If you’re baking this cake for little ones (it would be the perfect birthday cake for a kids party, and the quantities can easily be increased to make a larger cake) then just switch back to the buttermilk.
Ingredients (cuts into 12-16 small pieces)
85g softened butter
145g soft dark brown sugar
25g caster sugar
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
175ml red wine
40g cocoa powder
125g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
55g dark chocolate
180g icing sugar
115g softened butter
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp whole milk or cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
Topping of your choice – I used rainbow chocolate beans from Sainsburys
1. Preheat the oven to 175C/150C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 20x20cm cake tin and line it with a square of baking parchment.
2. Tip the soft butter and both dark and caster sugars into a large bowl.
Use a hand whisk to mix until the mixture is fluffy and turns lighter in colour.
3. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla extract and beat again until fully combined.
4. Pour in the red wine and mix again. At this point I had a minor panic as the mixture looked split. However, Deb says in her original recipe “don’t worry if the batter looks uneven”, so I decided to put my full trust in her and continue. Sift the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt) into the bowl and give one final mix to combine.
And lo and behold I had a smooth, unctuous cake batter. Never doubt the Smitten Kitchen.
5. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth the top out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
6. Bake for 25 minutes until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn the sponge out to cool completely.
7. While the cake cools make the icing. Melt the dark chocolate in a bain-marie and then set aside to cool to room temperature. This is important, because if the chocolate is still hot when you add it to the buttercream then it will melt the butter and ruin your icing.
8. Whisk the butter and icing sugar together until very light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on the time you give to this step as this is what gives the frosting a gorgeous texture.
9. Add the melted chocolate, salt, milk or cream and vanilla extract and whip again for 5 minutes until well combined.
10. Carefully move the sponge onto your serving plate or board and pile the frosting in the middle of the cake.
Using a palette knife or the back of a butter knife spread the chocolate buttercream over the cake. Start in the middle and push the icing towards the edge of the cake, swirling as you go.
11. Finally, liberally sprinkle your cake with the topping of your choice. Don’t hold back: chocolate sprinkles, flakes, buttons, popping candy are all more than acceptable here.
The cake will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days, and longer in the fridge – after the first day the texture of the sponge became even fudgier. This recipe really is chocolate heaven.