Easter came early this year and took me a little unawares I have to admit. Seems silly, I know, but normally it falls in with the school holidays in NZ and we have heaps of time to plan, but not this year. All of a sudden the shops were filled with chocolate and I only got to enjoy my first hot cross buns last weekend! Let’s hope they stick around in the shops for a few more weeks. I have my own ones that I make, but haven’t even had a chance to make them this year. I really must get myself into gear!
This isn’t one of my normal cakes. It is a chocolate oil cake with a tiny bit of almond essence added. The egg whites are whipped separately and folded into the mixture, so not your standard “butter-and-sugar-creamed” cake. The cocoa is also mixed into boiled water and then allowed to cool, so a little more fiddly so I keep this one for special occasions. It is, however, well worth the wait and delicious. It is quite a dense cake so this time I opted to bake it in a single cake tin, slightly larger in diameter than the 2 x 20 cm round ones that the recipe calls for. My plan was to pour the hot chocolate fudge icing over the top so it runs gooily down the sides of the cake and then smother it in crumbled flake chocolate bar and Easter themed characters and eggs on top. Looks pretty darn good if I say so myself. Can’t wait to tuck in.
My suggestion would be to allow the cake to cool for a few minutes in the tray before removing to a cake rack where it should be allowed to cool down completely before adding the fudge icing. You can also add whatever icing you prefer, I just haven’t made this rich fudge icing in a while and by pouring it over the cool cake while the icing was still slightly warm, it creates a thin coating so a great option for those who might otherwise find the fudge icing too rich if spread on too thickly. But – if you prefer a thicker covering, then allow the icing to cool completely before using a off-set spatula to spread it onto the cake.
Another tip would be to ice the cake while still on the cooling rack, but place the rack into a baking tray first so any icing that runs over the sides, is caught by the tray and can either be used again or stored for something else. Then when you’ve made it look gorgeous and the icing has set somewhat, you lift the cake carefully and position it onto your serving platter so no mess around the edges.
20 g cocoa powder
100 ml boiling water
140 g cake flour
a pinch of salt
10 ml baking powder
180 g icing sugar
60 ml oil (mild flavour – wouldn’t advise olive oil as too strong)
5 ml (1 tsp) Vanilla extract
2 ml (½ tsp) Almond essence
For the fudge icing:
100 g milk cooking chocolate
50 g butter
175 g icing sugar (sifted)
- Preheat your oven to 200°C. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm round cake tins or 1 slightly larger tin (make sure the sides are deep enough to accommodate the rising cake if you opt for a single tin).
- Blend the cocoa and boiling water until a smooth paste forms and set aside to cool.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.
- Beat 1 egg and 3 yolks well and gradually beat in the icing sugar. Continue beating until the mixture thickens and is creamy. Add the flour mixture, oil, cocoa/water mixture, essences and stir/beat briefly to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whip the 3 remaining egg whites until they reach the stiff peak stage (mixture must be thick enough that when you lift the beaters out, the mixture forms a stiff peak where the top doesn’t fall over). Do not over beat or the liquid will separate – not good.
- Using a metal spoon, fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Do not stir, you want to keep the air and volume the whipping has incorporated.
- Pour into the prepared tin/s and bake until firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.
- Remove and cool on a wire rack.
For the icing:
- Place a heat resistant bowl (I prefer a glass bowl so I can see the water through it) over a pot of gently simmering water. The bowl should fit snugly so no steam escapes and the base of the bowl should not be touching the water.
- Place the butter and chocolate into the bowl and stir gently while it melts.
- Add the egg and beat until combined.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and beat in the sifted icing sugar until the mixture is smooth.
For a smooth finish, as mentioned, pour over the cake when still warm. For a thicker covering, allow the icing to cool and then ice as normal.
Then decorate as you see fit with a selection of themed treats. in this case, more chocolate to celebrate Easter.