I was delighted when my friend Stephen asked me to teach him how to bake cakes from scratch. For me, it’s more than a little wonderful to be invited to cook anything with my friends. So naturally I picked up one of the first cookbooks I ever used when I was starting out, and I brought it up to his place. The first cake he picked was the old classic, a Madeira cake. This one was popular with our later guests, but not as popular as the second cake we made, which was also another classic, a mud cake. Both turned out beautifully! I was pleased as punch by our success – especially since this was Stephen’s first time cooking cakes from scratch and he did amazingly well. Both of us were suitably worn out at the end of the session, or rather – I was. But Stephen still had enough zing to whip up a delicious stir-fry for a group dinner.
The cookbook we used for this venture is actually a collection of recipes from the family circle series. It’s older than I am, but these are tried and true recipes that have never, and I mean never, let me down. So if in doubt I turned to this big old book and flip through it for answers. New cookbooks are good, new recipes are good, but there’s a reason my family has never thrown this book out or sold it. It’s a classic, and I hope it will be with us for a few years yet.
Serves: 8-10, Prep: 45 mins, Cook: 2hrs 15 mins
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
- 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- pinch salt
- 300g unsalted butter, melted
- 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup cream
- Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line a springform cake tin.
- Place sugar in large mixing bowl, then add the flour, the cocoa and bicarb soda. In another bowl, or a jug, combine the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually fold in the liquid. Make sure the mixture is well combined.
- Add the butter and chocolate and mix well. Then pour the mix into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 2hrs 15 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave cake to cool then turn out onto wire rack.
- Prepare the icing by combining the chocolate and cream in small pan. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and the mixture is combined and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before spooning the top of the cake.
Serves: 8-10, Prep: 30-35 mins, Cook: 50-55 mins
- 155g unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp finely grated orange/lemon zest
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 3/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted
- Icing sugar, to serve
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a springform cake pan.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the rind and beat until combined.
- Fold in the almond meal and flour until just combined, and the mix is smooth.
- Spoon the mix into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave the cake to cool for 10 mins and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the cake with icing sugar to serve.