Oh crumbs, it's been months since my last blog post! When I first started A Cup of Tea Solves Everything, I promised myself that I would do at least one post a month. No doubt you’ve all been crying into your pillows with every passing day, wondering what’s happened. What can I say, I've let us all down; I can only apologise, but for what it's worth, I have genuinely been kind of busy. You see...
I got married!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's right, I am very happy to report that I am now officially Mrs Rana Darbyshire, (although I also answer to Lady Darbyshire should you so prefer). I got engaged shortly after my last post and, as you might imagine, life since then got somewhat bonkers, especially as we gave ourselves all of only four months to arrange our wedding.
I realise I’ve been somewhat remiss in not mentioning the ever so lovely and wonderful Dr D to you before, but whilst I am happy to share much of my life with you, dear reader, there are some aspects of it that I’ve always been rather circumspect about. I can only hope that the steady(ish) stream of cakeage up until now will prove enough for you to forgive me. Now that we’re married though, I think we can take it as a given that you’ll be hearing more about the good Doctor (PhD. Physics before anyone decides to start emailing me their ailments) in due course! For now, suffice to say, he’s everything I’ve ever hoped for and more.
Moving swiftly on before I make anyone too nauseous, husband included(!), I can’t say I pushed myself particularly hard in terms of baking skills for my first post-wedding blog bake, but there is a fitting reason that I chose to make this particular cake.
You see, our wedding cake was a beautiful rustic - or ‘naked’ - chocolate orange (what else?) mud cake, filled with ganache and decorated with fresh berries, flowers and a light dusting of icing sugar. In case you’re wondering, a naked cake is a wedding cake that isn’t covered with icing, so you get to see the sponge and filling in all its glory and don’t have to faff around with peeling off sickly-sweet fondant icing that anyone above the age of about 10 seems to loathe before you get to dig in. Simple, elegant and yummy in one’s tummy!
So this first post, albeit not a mud cake, is a tribute to our glorious wedding cake. It’s ridiculously simple to make and seriously delicious when filled and topped with a ganache and studded with some hidden nuggets of chocolate in the midst of the loaf. Even yummier in one’s belleh if the sophistication is taken down a notch and you opt to drown a doorstep-sized wodge of it in a huge puddle of custard! Mmm, custard…!
Adapted from Jo’s Blue Aga’s Very Squidgy Moist Chocolate Loaf
Yields about 10 slices, plus a few extra muffins
For the cake:
- 175g softened butter or Stork (I used Stork)
- 175g soft light brown sugar
- 75g cocoa powder
- 150ml just-boiled water
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4 large eggs
- 250g plain chocolate (40-50% cocoa), chopped into chunks
- Zest of an orange
For the ganache:
- 150ml double cream
- 150g plain chocolate (40-50% cocoa)
- 30g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed into roughly 2cm blocks
- Zest of an orange
Pre-heat oven to 180C (fan oven) and grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. I used a 2lb tin (21 x 8cm if you need dimensions), which was just about big enough for the sponge but the cake did come out somewhat over-sized and lop-sided as a result of me overfilling the tin, so I would recommend lining a muffin tray with a few cases in addition to preparing your loaf tin. That way, rather than pouring all the batter into the tin, you can save about a quarter of it and bake a few muffins on the side.
Place the butter or Stork, sugar, cocoa and water into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted, the sugar has all dissolved and your ingredients have combined, stirring as you go. Once everything is a glossy liquid, take it off the heat, stir in 100g of the chocolate chunks (which will melt in the heat of the molten gloop) and allow to cool, for at least 10 minutes.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs lightly, then pour the chocolate liquid from your saucepan and the eggs into the flour all in one go. Beat together with a wooden spoon or a spatula until smooth. Now add in the remaining 150g of chocolate chunks and the orange zest and mix through the batter.
Pour about three quarters of the cake mix into the prepared tin, using the rest in your muffin cases. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes at 180C, then reduce the temperature to 140C and bake for another hour or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. As the baking time for the muffins will be very different, I would bake these separate to the loaf cake (about 25 minutes on 160C fan should be enough, or again, until a skewer or knife comes away clean when inserted into the centre of the muffins).
Leave the cake to cool completely.
For the ganache, break the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl and add the cubes of butter. Heat the cream in a small saucepan on a gentle heat until it starts to bubble around the edges. At this point, take it off the heat and pour it straight over the broken chocolate. Leave to stand for 30 seconds, then beat with a spatula or wooden spoon until the chocolate has all melted and you have a shiny liquid ganache. Add the orange zest and stir through, then leave to cool and thicken slightly.
Once the cake has cooled, slice it in half and spread half the ganache over the top of the base layer. Sandwich by placing the top layer back on top, then spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cake.