This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe and I’m obsessed with the dark, moist crumb. It’s incredibly easy to put together, no fancy equipment needed and you can make this a day or two in advance for ease. The fudge frosting is wonderfully rich and intense, and sits perfectly against the tangy blackberries and creamy mascarpone. Think of it as a bit of a riff on a black forest gateau but with a little twist.
MAKES: 1 x 6inch cake
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes cooling
Cook time: 35-40 minutes
Photography & food styling: Benjamina Ebuehi
For the Chocolate Cake:
270g plain flour
65g cocoa powder
300g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
80g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
160ml hot coffee (or hot water)
4-6 tbsp kahlua (coffee liqueur) to soak, optional
Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
150ml light brown sugar
60g cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate
75g unsalted butter
20g golden syrup
pinch flaky sea salt
100ml hot water
120g blackberries, fresh or frozen
60g caster sugar
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
squeeze of orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g mascarpone, cold
2 ½ tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark 4. Grease and line two 6-inch cake tins.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour this into the dry ingredients along with the melted butter and mix until smooth. Pour in the hot coffee and mix to combine. The batter will be quite runny.
Divide the batter evenly between the two tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool completely.
While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan over a low heat and stir gently until the sugar has completely dissolved – rub a little bit of the mixture between your fingers and if it doesn’t feel grainy then its ready.
Pour the frosting into a clean bowl and leave it to cool completely, giving it a stir every 10 minutes or so. As it cools it will start to thicken up, you want it to be a spreadable consistency. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how cool your kitchen is.
To make the blackberry compote, add all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then let it simmer for 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
For the mascarpone filling, mix the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Pour in the cream and beat until it thickens and is spreadable – be careful not to overmix!
To assemble, level the tops of each cake if they are domed. Spoon a few tablespoons of coffee liqueur onto each cake if using. Spread the mascarpone on top of one layer and spoon on the blackberry compote. Top with the second cake, bottom side up. Spread the chocolate frosting evenly all over the sides and top of the cake. You can smooth it with a bench scraper or add some texture with a spatula.
Decorate the top with come fresh blackberries, rosemary and some cacao nibs or shaved chocolate.
There’s definitely more than one way to cake – a simple loaf cake enjoyed with a cuppa, or a lavishly decorated chocolate cake layered with and slathered in rich chocolate buttercream for a celebration. Benji’s book has got you for both, and more.