I have been watching for too much tv lately. The last year that I lived in London I resolutely lived with a tv, but no tv licence. It saved me £142 over the course of a year, and it helped, believe you me. I needed to focus on my books, my writing, and countless other things. I swore it would give me time to pick up my guitar again, but even that was a bit of a stretch. Poor thing’s been oggling me sadly from a corner of the living room for the two years.
I digress. When I moved to Stirling, the question came up: do I leave the tv behind? With the DVD player, which is a luxury so few students have? And the DVD collection I have so jealously treasured and conscienciously added to over the last three years? Over my dead body, my inner hoarder shouted. I concurred, wholeheartedly. The tv had to come.
And the tv licence came back with it. Which meant, of course, The Food Network.
I am once more at liberty to watch endless reruns of Nigella Kitchen, Nigella Express, Nigella Christmas… I’m waiting for Nigellissima to make its appearance.
The other day it was the Devil’s Food Cake episode. I think my brain exploded. So. Much. Chocolate.
I had to make it, of course.
Thing is, I don’t have two springform tins. I already own a lot more tins and various muffin and cupcake moulds than most people, let alone students, possess, but even two identical tins is pushing it for me. The first time I tried this recipe I chanced making one large cake that I would slice in two, sandwiching frosting in between and topping the lot with frosting.
Naturally, that failed.
Devil’s Food Cake is, by nature and by name, tricksy. Don’t mess with it. Play by the rules, be a good obedient little baker, and you shall have your cake. But don’t try to be clever with it. Get two tins. Or divide the recipe in half, make two cakes back to back – which takes time, I know, but just go do 30 minutes of yoga while it bakes or something – and assemble them when they are both done.
Now about the coconut: I ran out of the butter after the first trial, couldn’t be
arsed bothered to walk to Sainbury’s again so instead used some coconut oil. I thought the chocolate would overpower the coconut flavour – naive creature that I am – but surprisingly, the coconut flavour was strong – not overpowering – and actually complemented the chocolate perfectly. I loved it instantly. If you don’t, that’s fine, but I would give it a go if I were you. Notes for substitutions are at the bottom.
Makes one 20cm (8 inch) cake
You will need 2 cake tins (pans)
For the cake:
225g (1.5 cups + 2 tbsp) self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
50g (1.76 oz) good quality dark cocoa powder, sifted
125g (2/3 cup) Demerara sugar
100g (3.5 oz) dark muscovado sugar
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
125g (4.5 oz or 2/3 cup) vegan butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 flax “eggs” (see notes)
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (356ºF). Grease two 20cm (8 inch) round springform tins.
Place the muscovado sugar in a bowl, cover with the boiling water and give it a stir. Set aside.
Cream the butter and Demerara sugar either with a standing mixer or by hand. It’s a short but excellent workout. Fold in the flax eggs, then the vanilla paste and finally the hot, melted sugar. Combine thoroughly.
Lastly fold in the dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly, then immediately pour half of the batter into the first springform tin, the other half in the second tin. Bake for 30 minutes.
Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack for at least ten minutes before removing them from the tins. The cakes will be thin, but remember about half of the finished cake is made purely of frosting. If you haven’t made the frosting and filling already, begin to do so now immediately after the cakes have gone in the oven.
For the frosting and filling:
100g (3.5 oz) room temperature coconut oil, or 100ml melted coconut oil
300g (10.5 oz) good quality dark, dark chocolate, roughly chopped
125ml (½ cup) water
30g (about 1 oz or ¼ cup) dark muscovado sugar
Place a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat. Let the sugar, butter and water come to a bubble, stir them together and remove from the heat. Slip in the chopped chocolate. Let the whole lot sit for a few minutes to give the chocolate a chance to begin to melt. Either swirl the pan or gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine it all into a smooth, glossy sauce.
It will appear very liquid, but you must give it a chance to set. Just leave it be on the counter, or place in the fridge for a short while (no longer than an hour, I would say), until it has become “spreadable”.
To assemble the cake:
Carefully remove the first cake from its tin and place it on a plate or cake stand if you have one, belly-up (top-side down). Spread about a third of the frosting all over its surface. Layer the second cake exactly on top of the first one, this time the normal way up. Spread the remainder of the frosting over the top and down the sides.
I like my cake to look a bit shabby. I don’t bake for a fancy café and probably never shall, so this look is good enough for me, and good enough for my belly.
* A flax egg = 2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp warm water, left to set for a couple of minutes.
* If you wish to use less demarara sugar, 100g (3.5 oz) will do. This cake does not improve with lots of sugar; it is the darkness of the chocolate and the tempting fats from the coconut oil and vegan butter that are its crowning glory.
* If you truly detest coconut flavour in any form, substitute 175g (6.25 oz) unsalted vegan butter for the coconut oil. The same method applies, roughly. Just treat your icing/frosting kindly and with patience, and it’ll do what you want.
* I did my best with the metric to imperial and cup conversions, but sheesh, just switch over to metric already, will you? Thanks.
What’s your favourite TV show?