Happy twentieth birthday to me!
I am the sort of person prone to bouts of nostalgia and there’s nothing I can do about that. Hitting the big two-oh brings with it a flood of reminiscences and reflections. All the things I’ve accomplished so far in my life; all the obstacles I have yet left to tackle; things I regret, things that make me proud of who I’ve become, and things in my life that have rocked me to my core. The last two years have been tumultuous to say the least. The next one is looking to be even more hectic, but no less amazing.
In the midst of so much turmoil, it is comforting to know that some things never change. For every birthday I have ever had the pleasure to celebrate on this planet I have begun a new year in my life eating a bite of my mother’s famous cake. This is the cake I want to have every birthday until I die; my children will eat this on their birthday; whoever I marry is going to have to set aside his cake of choice to make room for a plateful of mine. Because this is THE Cake. There simply is no other cake worthy to be my birthday cake.
Thank you Mum for all the wonderful birthday cakes I’ve had so far and for teaching me how to make them. If there was but one thing I needed to learn to successfully make it through this life, this is it.
I’ve had to adapt the recipe since March last year, when I decided to go vegan, but I promise you the recipe tastes no different. The most important ingredient–and I realise this is beyond cliché, but it’s absolutely true–is simply love. This cake comes from the heart, first and foremost.
Look how thick that is!
Mum's Chocolate Birthday Cake
250g (1 + 2/3 cups) self-raising flour
150g brown sugar
200g (7 oz) dark chocolate (cooking chocolate)
250ml (1 cup) almond or soya milk
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp tepid water)
60ml (1/4 cup) coconut oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a rectangular cake tin (pan) with baking parchment. (Roughly 15cm x 30 cm / 6 x 11 inches.)
- Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to aid in melting. Set aside when the chocolate is melted.
- Gently warm the milk in the microwave for a few seconds, or in a saucepan for a minute. You don’t want it to boil; it just needs to be warm. Cold milk would set the coconut oil as soon as it got in contact with it.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Fold in the melted chocolate, flax egg and warm milk. Stir until just combined (overmixing can quickly toughen up a cake).
- Pour into your lined cake tin (pan) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack before tipping the cake upside down onto a tray.
200g (7 oz) dark chocolate
75ml – 100ml (1/3 cup – just under 1/2 cup) almond or soya milk
- Gently heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. DON’T LET IT BOIL. Break the chocolate into pieces and let it melt in the milk, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The melted chocolate should be glossy and contain no lumps. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before pouring over the cooled cake.
- Leave the cake to set in the fridge for about an hour, then decorate as you see fit.
- Use only the best quality cook’s chocolate. 70% dark chocolate is perfect.
- Make sure your oven is pre-heated well.
- Use a medium-sized rectangular cake tin.
- You can use cream (soy or coconut) for the ganache, but in a pinch of soya milk or almond milk is fine too.
If you have any birthday traditions in your family, do share them, I’m curious to know what other people do!