Monday, 13 August 2012

Dana's Chocolate Cake

It's been a chocolate cakey week. A friend of mine hosted a mini-gathering to test out chocolate cake recipes for an upcoming event, and a few of us were happy to do the research for her and provide our opinions. Her original online plea for "best chocolate cake recommendations" resulted in an absolute stampede. It seems there are some great recipes out there, or at least some strong opinions.

It's a topic I have been thinking about a bit lately - the idea of finding the best recipe for some favourite foods, and chocolate cake is not surprisingly on the list. But I am realising this could be more complicated than I originally thought, and have struggled to put this idea together. How exactly do you define chocolate cake? It's a very subjective topic, who decides what tastes best (well, me. And you can see if you agree...)? But, most awkwardly of all, a friend pointed out the other day that even when you hit on a really good recipe (which she and I believe we have) if you have it too many times (which perhaps she and I have) it can start to get a bit boring.

But I want to plough on anyway. Most importantly, I think this "best recipe" idea will have to never be definitive, it will be a moving feast, if you will. Your submissions will be welcome, requested even, and even when I think I have come across the best I can find, I look forward to you topping it with something better (recipes are good, samples in my letter box are encouraged).

So, chocolate cake. The samples I tried on my friend's sunny back deck were outstanding. One of them I have made myself, and I was eager to see it again. The other got better and better the more I ate (always a problem). And not only because my friend hand-ground all the hazelnuts herself! But I'm not sure if they quite fit the definition that I need to put in place. Mainly I think because they don't have flour, and once you leave the standard cake ingredients behind, you can go a long way off course and where does it end? So I will leave you with some photos and references (click on the links) to these great cakes from my friend's sunny back deck, and then suggest to you what I believe to be the best basic chocolate cake recipe around at the moment: Dana's Chocolate Cake. The recipe is found in Sophie Gray's Destitute Gourmet Stunning Food from Small Change, and the sample below was made earlier this week to celebrate the third birthday of the best little guy around.

So this is best chocolate cake recipe part one. I think there may be more.

Dana's Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
100 grams melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in to a food processor and mix.
Grease and line a 20cm cake loose-bottom cake tin (it's quite a liquid mix and you don't want it leak in to the bottom of the oven).
Bake for 50 mins at 180 degrees.

Nigella's Nutella Cake

Chocolate Cloud Cake


  1. Fabulous!

    I second the Dana's recommendation. When I asked facebook for recommendations for a choc birthday cake last year it was nominated by about 30 per cent of respondents :)

    I can also attest to it being deliciously dairy-free-able, should anyone be interested. Swap butter for Olivani or similar, and milk for soy and the result is excellent.

    1. Oh good - testing for the dairy-free population is always welcome!

  2. My favourite used to be Dana's but i've upgraded to Annabelle Langbeins One Step Chocolate Cake which is also a throw everything at the food processor version. It makes an enormous 30cm round cake which feeds 20+ people which I find really useful and the best thing is that the cake always comes out flat so it's a breeze to ganache the top and decorate it - no hills on top that need trimming!

    1. Aah, this is interesting. I remember you did something large and flat and chocolatey and amazing for a party at RVR's 3-4 years ago... you haven't had the recipe for that long have you?

    2. yes i've been using the recipe for about 5 years, and it has never disappointed!

  3. Hmm, interesting. This Annabel Langbein's recipe was the one I used for Clara's 3rd birthday that you sampled, Angela, and it made a 20cm cake plus 16ish cupcakes. It is a good recipe, especially for catering for many, but I still love Dana's for flavour and decadence. Filling it with her delicious buttery icing probably has something to do with it. Love that they're both "throw in the food processor" recipes though.

  4. I know the food and the gorgeous photography are really the main deal, but can I just say how much I enjoy your writing? Lots of laughs and smiles.


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