(Bruce Bogtrotter's) Chocolate Fudge Cake


Suddenly the Trunchbull exploded. “Eat!” she shouted, banging her thigh with the riding-crop. “If I tell you to eat, you will eat! You wanted cake! You stole cake! And now you’ve got cake! What’s more, you’re going to eat it! You do not leave this platform and nobody leaves this hall until you have eaten the entire cake that is sitting there in front of you!”’ Roald Dahl, Matilda


Bruce Bogtrotter’s triumph over the chocolate cake was perhaps my most read passage in any book throughout my childhood. It’s the cake that stands for cake itself, with two thick layers of moist, dark chocolate sponge smothered in fudgy frosting. And if you can turn eating it into an act of defiance against the Trunchbull, or diet culture, or whatever: all the better.

Chocolate is the very essence of this cake, so using a reasonable-quality bar will make a big difference. I do not, however, subscribe to the rather priggish school of cooking that blusteringly dismisses anything but the finest single-origin, artisanally-crafted Peruvian chocolate. I’ve made many a chocolate cake with nothing more fancy than a couple of bars of Bourneville and had no complaints thus far.

Makes one two-layer chocolate cake

200g dark chocolate
200g butter, cubed
4 large eggs
200ml milk
100g soft dark brown sugar
160g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Two 20cm round cake tins, preferably loose-bottomed or spring-form

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line the tins with baking parchment.

2 Melt the chocolate either in short bursts in the microwave or in a bowl suspended over (but not touching) simmering water in a pan. Take off the heat then stir in the butter until melted. Whisk in the eggs, milk and both types of sugar.

3 In another bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add all this to the wet ingredients, gently whisking in for just as long as it takes to combine. The batter will be thick and satiny, inviting you to take first a little finger, then a teaspoon, then a ladle to it.

4 Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 25–30 minutes. Chocolate cakes suffer for being even slightly over-baked, so be vigilant: test at 25 minutes and keep a close eye on it thereafter. If a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with no more than a couple of crumbs sticking to it, it’s ready.

5 Let the cakes cool for a few minutes in their tins before turning them out onto wire racks to finish cooling to room temperature. Sandwich and ice with the following chocolate fudge ganache.

Chocolate Fudge Ganache

This dark, fudgy ganache is an event in itself. The same goes here for the chocolate as in the cake recipe above: one with a high percentage of cocoa solids (65% or more) will give a richer, more chocolatey ganache while a lower-quality chocolate will create a frosting with a very different (but no less interesting) flavour — more mellow, caramelised and sweeter.

Makes enough to fill and cover one 20cm sandwich cake

200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
100g soft dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons golden syrup

1 Finely chop the chocolate and set aside in a large bowl.

2 Heat the cream, sugar and salt in a pan over a low heat until scalding — it needs to be steaming hot but you mustn’t let it boil. Pour it slowly over the chopped chocolate, let the mixture sit for a minute, then stir to combine. The chocolate should have melted into the cream, leaving a smooth, shiny ganache mixture. If any chunks of chocolate remain, heat very gently over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Stir in the golden syrup.

3 Let the ganache cool to room temperature before using some to sandwich the cake layers together. Then spread the rest on the top and sides. It’ll set too firm to use if you keep it in the fridge, but you can put the whole cake in the fridge once iced if you want a firmer set.

 ©Nato Welton, 2014

©Nato Welton, 2014

Crumb: The Baking Book
By Ruby Tandoh