Growing up my mum almost always home made our birthday cakes, she went to great lengths to make our birthday’s special with a specifically made cake for school and another one for our party. Obviously when we were little there were lots of requests for barbie cakes, ballerina cakes, teenage mutant ninja turtle cakes and the like. And my mum gallantly rose to the challenge:
As we grew up the requests became chocolate, carrot or cheese cakes, much simpler! As a result of all these cake requests my mum kept a plethora of cake recipes with all sorts of notes alongside. Or if she found a better recipe she’d write something like “see Muriel’s recipe for Carrot cake in file no 2” and so would begin my hunt for the carrot cake recipe in file number 2!
In the spirit of keeping family traditions going…it is my husband’s birthday this May and for Alex’s birthday I’m combining two of his favourite things – chocolate and chocolate!
- 225g Soft baking butter (I never remember to take the butter out of the fridge beforehand so I usually have to melt it in the microwave)
- 4 Large eggs
- 15ml Baking powder (I’m going to be honest here… I forgot the baking powder. The cake looks great but is a bit stodgy. This is why it’s always a good idea to take all the ingredients out before you begin so you don’t miss one! :))
- 500ml Caster sugar
- 500ml White baking flour
- 250ml Water
- 150ml Cocoa
- 125ml Milo
*Milo : made by nestle, a bit like hot chocolate but not. The official description is a mix of malt and chocolate powder. It’s only easily available in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and a few other African countries. Milo was a staple for us growing up in South Africa, either served hot with boiling water and milk, or cold with just milk. As my brother would say this stuff always gets me right in the “feels!” #nostalgia
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (A good oven is vital for baking and making sure your cake doesn’t flop. Heat that isn’t at the right temperature or isn’t evenly distributed will mean adjustments to the length and temperature of any recipe. I’ve learnt through trial and error that although my oven gets up to temperature the heat isn’t evenly distributed, so I have to move the cake halfway through, which isn’t ideal as opening the oven too soon may also cause the cake to flop. Fickle things cakes…)
- Cream the butter & caster sugar together until light and creamy
- Separate the eggs, putting the whites to one side. Mix the egg yolks into the creamy mixture
- Sift the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and alternating add the dry ingredients and the water
- Beat the egg whites until stiff (the egg whites should create “peaks” when you lift the beater out of the bowl)
- Fold the egg whites into the mixture (make sure to do this by hand, allowing too much air into the mixture when folding in the egg whites can also cause a cake to flop)
- Separate the mixture into two
- Pour one half into a greased baking tin and bake for approx. 45mins – test with a cake skewer/tester and make sure this comes out clean before taking the cake from the oven
- Allow first half to cool in the tin before upending onto a cooling rack.
- Repeat steps 8 & 9 with the second half of the mixture
I always allow a cake to cool over night, icing a cake before it’s properly cooled is like trying to create an ice sculpture in the summer heat… messy and a disaster!
For a bit of a laugh check out my attempt at an old cinema style video for this recipe:
Icing is something I’ve always made by feel, I put in spoon fulls of the various ingredients until I think the consistency is right. It’s difficult to try and spread something runny onto a cake so make sure the icing is nice and thick, otherwise keep adding dry/wet ingredients to your taste until you reach the desired consistency.
- +/- 100g Soft Butter (make sure it’s soft or you’ll end up with buttery clumps in your icing)
- +/- 100ml Milo
- +/- 60ml Cocoa
- +/- 200ml Icing Sugar
- +/- 30ml Milk
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl
- Add milk and butter beating continually
- Add dry/wet ingredients until correct consistency is reached.
- Using a metal cake decorating spatula spread the icing over the top of the bottom layer of sponge, place the second sponge cake on top and cover the whole cake with the icing
- For decoration/fun I grated some peppermint crisp chocolate on top