Oh really, you say, a quid, to make a chocolate cake? To make THAT chocolate cake? Oh yes, I reply, a quid. Not, I hasten to add, because I expect a chocolate cake to cost £1 to make; come on; no one’s trying to be Jack Monroe here. A quid is what I expect each thing to cost, per person, maximum.
And I don’t know about you, but when I eat cake, especially one as sticky and rich as this I tend, mostly, to eat one slice. So, since even with all that glossy ganache, this costs about £3 to make (the breakdown of the amounts is below) and this serves at least eight to ten, I’d say this should be called ‘How to feel rich for 36.9p’.
I’ve made it before, for my nephew’s 18th birthday, given it to a not-much-of-a-baker friend who wanted an easy recipe for her work Bake-off then came second with it, and, as soon as I got home, having had the cast off for my once-fractured wrist, I made it again. Not, I should say, because I was particularly craving chocolate cake but because I knew it was so simple that even the recently-one-handed-being-careful could do it without flinching. Birthdays, bake-offs, broken arms: this one is for all occasions.
Nigella’s chocolate cake (adapted from How To Eat)
Cupboard (or things you might already have)
self-raising flour, 225g (or mix the same amount of plain flour with 3tsp baking powder) (12p)
good cocoa powder, 30g (55p)
salt, pinch (I’m not working that one out…)
caster sugar, 200g (32p)
unsalted butter, 100g (38p)
eggs, 2 (33.5p)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C/gas 4, butter and flour a couple of 20cm sandwich tins (line them with parchment if you want; I don’t bother) then fill and boil the kettle.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa and the salt together into a large mixing bowl.
3. Put the sugar, butter, condensed milk, 100g of the chocolate, broken into pieces, and 100ml of just-boiled water into a saucepan and heat gently until melted and smooth.
4. Stir the hot chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients until all completely amalgamated.
5. Lightly beat the eggs and add those to the mixture.
6. Pour into the greased tins and bake for about 15-20 minutes until firm on the top. A skewer won’t come out clean and, as Nigella points out, ‘you wouldn’t want it to’. You want an almost brownie, just-done texture to this.
7. Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave in the tins for 5 minutes then carefully remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
8. When the cake is cool, make the ganache. Chop the remaining 250g of chocolate, either by hand or in a processor and put it in a bowl big enough to mix it and the cream together.
9. Heat the cream to just boiling (so you can see the bubbles coming to the surface) but don’t let it boil then pour it over the chocolate. Leave to stand for 5 minutes and then stir the cream and chocolate together (Nigella says you’ll need a mixer for this but I did it with my (admittedly left) hand and it needed only a stir with a spoon to mix together).
10. Spread the less pretty side of one of the chocolate cakes with ganache then sandwich the other on top of it. Put the cake on a plate or board.
11. Now pour the rest of the ganache over the cake and spread it evenly until it completely covers the top and sides. Tidy the spills away if you want or just leave them and clean them up when it’s set.
12. Leave to set for a couple of hours and you’ll have a glossy, shiny beauty. If you want to splash out or the occasion demands it, club together with some friends and put your respective 63.1ps together for some candles or decorations…