So you know that funny 'in-betweeny' time betwixt being awake and being asleep? It's the time when you're neither fully awake nor fast asleep; the time when you discover clarity on the most complex of problems; the time when I do my best, most cutting-edge blog post writing. Of course, when you wake up the following morning, you're mostly met with the realisation that the solutions you designed during your semi-conscious state are not just a bit misplaced, they are completely, ridiculously, stupidly unrealistic and in most cases make no sense whatsoever. And the writing that I craft in my head during those sleepy moments? Almost always it's incomprehensible garbage.
I have to say that I find the whole experience very disappointing. Gutting even. Everything feels so achievable, so possible when you're sandwiched between awake and asleep. It must be worth trying to bottle it.
Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, #1 teenage son was home alone for the day. I can't remember where the rest of us were - perhaps something ballet-themed or swimming-themed or similar. Anyway, #1 teenage son had had a heavy week - a tonne of swim training and a tonne of school work to go with it - and so he was having a lazy day ... a bit of TV ... a breakfast or three ... and then there was a bit of extra sleeping too. And as he was falling asleep, he had one of those 'in-betweeny' moments of clarity -
"I'm going to bake a chocolate cake when I wake up."
Now that probably doesn't seem terribly misplaced or completely, ridiculously, stupidly unrealistic but it is certainly unheard of for #1 teenage son to want to bake a cake and unusual to plan it while being home alone.
Needless to say, by the time he'd slept it off, he was over the chocolate cake idea and back to putting his culinary energies into constructing the best ever bowl of Bran Flakes.
But the idea did linger, and when I got home later, he shared his chocolate cake epiphany and wondered whether there was a recipe on the blog, should it happen again.
And you know, there wasn't ... Until now.
Making a perfect, easy chocolate cake is not at all hard, but step-by-step instructions make it seem heaps less intimidating. Hand modelling in these photos is courtesy of 8-year-old Hella and in fact, SHE made this cake - so if it's easy enough for an 8-year-old, it'll be a piece of cake for you too. And, no, that pun wasn't intended but I love it for its cheesiness.
And before we get onto the step-by-step part, I want to emphasise a few golden rules to guarantee a perfect cake every time -
- Use the correct sized tin for the recipe - it's essential.
- Line the base of the tin with baking parchment - it's essential.
- Weigh out the ingredients carefully - it's essential.
- Follow the instructions.
That's all. Making a perfect, easy chocolate cake is not difficult, but precision is a big factor. Baking is more about science than art. This chocolate cake is light, fluffy, moist and tastes wonderfully chocolatey. It keeps well in an airtight container but is at its peak of gorgeousness on the day that you lovingly made it.
You can, of course, decorate your cake however you wish. I am a big fan of 'my chocolate icing of choice' (which I use to sandwich the cakes together and as the topping - one quantity of the recipe is plenty) and my signature cake decorating style is to use a selection of chocolate sweets on the top. I do this at every opportunity.
Here, I also drizzled a little melted chocolate over the top too. You could also fill it with whipped cream, buttercream, add some strawberries or raspberries, top it with white icing etc etc. For this cake, Hella opted for chocolate filling + a layer of caramel filling + Hershey's Chocolate kisses on the top. 'More' is more when you are 8 years old.
So, #1 teenage son ... the next time you dream of baking a chocolate cake, you CAN. But make sure you save me a slice ... and clear up the kitchen afterwards. And that'll be IN the dishwasher - not just in the zone.