A Very, Very Good Chocolate Cake

 Or, as an alternate title
"How Icing Saved an Ugly Cake"

In the tradition of Sunday-treat-day, I had a craving for a chocolate cake. Deceptively simple, right? I longed for something moist, but not too heavy, with a not-too-sweet icing. After finding the perfect recipe, I bumbled obediently along, until it was time to ice it. I had let the cake chill in the fridge first and thought it would be safe to start decorating it (only to devour it afterwards), but flip, it was a disaster. There's really no other word for it.

Great chunks of cake started falling off the edges as soon as I went near it with my pallet knife. Panicking, I glued bits of cake back with icing, put it back in the fridge, and hoped for the best. You see, I am lazy. I never do a crumb coat for a cake. Slap on some icing, cut, devour. My general modus operandi - which generally works. Except now, I was forced to do things properly.

The verdict? Doing things properly sometimes, sometimes pays off. A little patience and bit of extra icing saved the Frankenstein of chocolate cakes. Which meant it nearly, nearly looked as good as it tasted. My go-to chocolate cake from here on out. And yes, I will always do a crumb coat. Lesson learned.

Recipe from here 


2 cups cake flour
2 cups caster sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the chocolate peanut butter icing:
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
200g milk chocolate, melted


Preheat oven to 180º C. Prepare two 22cm cake pans by buttering and lightly flouring. 

Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl, gently stir to mix until well combined 

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together until well combined. This bit is best done with a stand mixer or electric beater - carefully add boiling water to the cake batter and beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter. 

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

To make the icing, beat the peanut butter and melted chocolate until smooth. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture and beat until smooth and well-combined. Chill until ready to use.

For a great how-to video on a crumb layer - hop over here.


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