I am very traditional when it comes to baking cakes, being most comfortable with techniques of creaming and whipping to incorporate air and lightness - so when I found an Ina Garten recipe for chocolate cake I was torn as to whether to try it. It was so different to any technique I had tried, so simple it just couldn’t be true, and so runny (I thought I’d made an enormous mistake)
To my surprise and delight, this technique produced a ridiculously dark, moist, light and chocolate rich cake.
I’ve adapted it even further, adding chestnut flour and honey for flavour and moisture and to give it a festive tone, and using extra rich Valrhona cocoa powder. On top, a generous drizzle of dark ganache and loads of berries (redcurrant are so pretty) and sugared rosemary.
The result is somewhere between cake and pudding with no shortage of chocolate and an all natural Christmas wreath to finish.
Perfectly special for the festive season, but equally good any time you need chocolate cake and so ridiculously quick and easy to boot.
For the cake:
200g plain flour
40g chestnut flour ( I used the Australian, ‘Cheznuts’ brand)
420g raw caster sugar
75g dutch process cocoa powder (or Valrhona if you can get it)
10g bicarbonate of soda
5g baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence concentrate
250ml buttermilk (at room temperature)
115ml oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
1 generous tablespoon honey
1 cup minus one tablespoon hot water
extra cocoa to prepare the pan
spray cooking oil
For the ganache:
150 ml thickened cream
150g dark chocolate callets (or finely chopped good quality dark chocolate)
Red currants (or other red berries such as cherries, cranberries or raspberries)
Fresh rosemary sprigs
1 cup white caster sugar
You will need a ring cake tin or bundt tin for this cake. I used the @bakemaster_au fluted ring cake pan (27cm round) which was just the right size for this volume of mixture with the bonus of being non stick.
For the cake:
Have all the ingredients at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, fan forced
Prepare a bundt or round cake tin by spraying with cooking oil or using melted butter to brush on liberally. Sprinkle over a layer of sifted cocoa and tap off any excess.
Sift together the flours, bicarb soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and use a whisk to mix everything together well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs until combined.
Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is just combined.
Place the honey into a cup measure and add enough hot water to make up a cup of liquid. Mix thoroughly until all the honey has dissolved then add it slowly to the cake mixture set to low speed until just combined. You can also use a hand whisk. The mixture will be quite runny.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt or rind pan.
Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 160 degrees celsius and bake for a further 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool until just warm in the tin before inverting it carefully onto a rack to finish cooling.
To transfer the cake onto a serving platter use the original cake tin. (the cake is quite fragile). Place it over the cake, invert, then place the serving platter onto the base of the tin and turn the cake onto it.
To make the ganache:
Heat the cream until boiling either in a small pan or the microwave oven
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl
Pour the hot cream over the top and allow to sit for 2 minutes before stirring until smooth and combined, and all the chocolate has melted.
At this point extra flavouring such as a tablespoon of honey or liquor can be mixed in until smooth.
Carefully pour some of the ganache over the cake. Reserve extra ganache for serving. If it sets it can be warmed gently until just runny.
Rinse and pat the red currants or other berries dry
Rinse and pat the rosemary sprigs dry. Separate into smaller sprigs. If too dry I like to spray them lightly with a fine spray bottle filled with fresh water. This allows the sugar to stick.
Place the caster sugar in a shallow bowl and toss in the rosemary sprigs until coated. Shake off any excess.
Place a wreath of rosemary on the top of the cake followed by red currants.
Remove the rosemary when serving.