A lovely lady I know had a birthday recently, and I was commissioned (in secret) to make a suitable birthday cake for the surprise party (it seems this baking-birthday-cakes-business requires a lot of secrecy…).
The brief was chocolate mud cake with white chocolate frosting – I reckon that’s basically top-deck, right? So, obviously I was kinda excited – it’s basically a lot of chocolate, why would you not be excited?
But of course, it had to be the perfect milk chocolate mud cake (perfectionist? Never). But how does one find the most fantastic chocolate cake recipe going around? Who knows. I still don’t. But I do know that Pinterest is brilliant. Because it’s based around photos, you always know what the finished product will look like (well, most of the time). And because a lot of the recipe on Pinterest are from bloggers (hello, there), there are often brilliant photos that help you with the shall-I-make-this-chocolate-cake-or-that-chocolate-cake decision – in other words, they have photos of the finished cake, but they also have photos of the cake once it’s cut. You can see the inside of the cake! I know it sounds silly, but this is so helpful when choosing a recipe. If the inside of the cake looking pale, overcooked and dry, then you know to avoid that recipe (or try it, but seriously undercook it). But if it looks lush and moist and a fabulous dark chocolate colour, you know it’s probably a winner.
However, this recipe didn’t come from Pinterest (so that last paragraph was an entire waste of time, you’re welcome!). It came from a kids’ birthday cake recipe book! Why on earth do I have a kids’ cake book? Well. Basically, you can trust these sorts of books to have sensible, realistic and yummy cakes – remember, mums and dads are making these cakes, not professionals (although I must say, I’m always so impressed by the mums I know – you know who you are! I could never make the amazing creations they make every year, several times a year! It’s as though they have supernatural cake-making abilities). The recipes need to be easy, straightforward and cost-effective. Which is basically my own mantra when it comes to baking! So it’s a match made in heaven. And it turns out, this really is a brilliant chocolate cake recipe, so there you go – all the theories fit!
Now, I didn’t just need a perfect chocolate cake: I needed the perfect white chocolate frosting too! White chocolate is tricky. Mud cake is one thing – just make sure there’s a lot of cocoa or chocolate and you’re fine. But white chocolate, for some reason it’s different. Maybe it’s the fact that it isn’t technically chocolate (let’s not start that debate), but basically, I think it’s because the flavour is so subtle that it’s easily obscured by other flavours, even unsalted butter, the most demure of them all!
Long story short, the flavour of the cake was great and the flavour of the frosting was fine, but not brilliant (see, I’m totally not a perfectionist) – but I do see a lot of white chocolate in my future…Happy days.
Top Deck Mud Cake
Recipe from this book.
550g caster sugar
350g dark chocolate
225g plain flour
225g self-raising flour
80g cocoa powder
80g (½ cup) white chocolate, chopped
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
200g soft butter
625g (5 cups) icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 160C fan-forced and line two 22cm tins with baking paper or foil.
- Heat butter, sugar, chocolate and water in a saucepan over low heat until the butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Add eggs and milk and whisk well.
- Add flours and cocoa and whisk until combined and smooth.
- Bake for 1 hour, then in 10 minutes intervals until cooked. You don’t want the cake to be fully cooked through – it still needs to be a little bit gooey for maximum yum.
- In the meantime, make the frosting: melt the chocolate with a touch of butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
- Beat butter in a stand mixer until pale in colour.
- Add the melted chocolate and beat well.
- Gradually add the icing sugar and vanilla until the frosting is smooth and thick. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk. If it is too thin, add more icing sugar.
- Once the cakes are cooked, cool completely on wire racks.
- Sandwich the two cakes together with about 1/3 of the frosting. Cover the cake with remaining frosting and style accordingly.