They say perfect is the enemy of good.
My chocolate fudge cake recipe is good enough, it’s not perfect.
It isn’t the Nigella recipe that I have followed countless times over the years.
(Can you see the chocolate smudges? That’s the sign of a good cookbook – actual food remnants on the page.)
These days, as my confidence in the kitchen and culinary skills have increased, rarely do I follow a recipe to the letter.
Particularly if doing so means:
a) a special trip to the supermarket
b) there may be additional food waste from buying seldom used ingredients in quantity
c) there’s a cupboard full of alternative ingredients ready to go
With a couple of omissions and alternatives I can create a credible, if not perfect, chocolate fudge cake. The added bonus is this “good enough” cake will also cost considerably less than the perfect version.
*I’d recommend baking Nigella’s chocolate fudge cake at least once in your lifetime, as not only is it superbly perfect, but it also allows you to compare how good, good enough is.
You will need:
(please be aware this recipe is best made measuring in grams, but if using ounces, do not mix and match measurements – stick to ounces throughout the recipe)
400g / 14oz flour (Either self-raising or plain/all purpose)
250g / 9oz caster sugar
100g / 3½oz light muscovado sugar
50g / 1¾oz cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of baking powder (if using plain/all-purpose flour but not with SR as it is not required)
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon of salt (if using plain/all-purpose flour not SR)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or essence
175g / 6oz cooking margarine (melted and cooled)
125ml / 4floz cooking oil – I use extra virgin olive oil
300ml / 10floz cold water
200g of dark chocolate (minimum 50% cocoa solids)
200g cooking margarine
300g icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar)
Another tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 x 8″ diameter or 20cm sandwich tins
Preheat oven to a moderate heat = 160°C / 320°F / Gas Mark 3.
Grease and line the sandwich tins. Or alternatively use cake release as I do.
Melt 175g / 6oz of margarine and leave to cool.
In a large bowl place all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, sugars and cocoa. Mix.
In a jug whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, or jug, whisk together the melted margarine, oil and water until just combined.
Pour the fat/oil/water into the dry ingredients and mix until combined – do not over-mix. I use an electric whisk.
Add the egg/vanilla to your chocolate batter, whisk again till just combined once more.
Pour the batter/mixture into the 2 tins as equally as possible. If you want to get the split fairly accurate you could weigh the tins as I do.
(my tins weighed approx. 850g each when filled)
Place in the centre of the preheated oven and check after 35 minutes. Ovens do vary, and this recipe could take up to 45-50 minutes. Mine were ready in just over 40 minutes.
The cakes should be firm to touch. Test with a cake tester/wooden skewer, if unsure, to check the cake is cooked throughout.
Leave in the tins to cool slightly (and to firm up) before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Once cold the cakes can be covered in the chocolate fudge frosting/icing.
Melt 200g of dark chocolate.
If using a microwave, break the chocolate into chunks and place in a non-metallic dish. It will take approx. 90 seconds to melt in a 800w microwave oven. Stir to ensure all lumps have dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
To make the chocolate fudge icing/frosting beat or whisk together 200g of margarine with 300g of icing sugar. This can get messy!
I use an electric whisk. This creates a crumb like consistency first, which is normal.
Continue to whisk or beat (by hand) until the mixture is smooth.
Pour in the melted chocolate and add a tablespoon of vanilla and beat in by hand.
The bottom tier of the cake may need to be leveled slightly to stop the top tier bowing and even potentially splitting when placed on top – this will depend on how much the cakes have risen.
Once/if leveled, spread the top of the bottom tier with the frosting/icing. I chill my icing for a few minutes so that it has a thicker consistency for spreading – this is personal preference.
Place the other cake on top.
Spread the frosting/icing all over the cake, including the sides. There will be plenty of icing to cover the cake
Chocolate fudge cake, in my opinion, is best baked a day or two before serving. It should last up to 5 days in an airtight container, and there is no need to refrigerate. Cake and extreme cold do not go together!
And there you have it, my adapted version of a perfect cake. I’ve changed quantities, dumbed-down and even removed some ingredients entirely. I don’t feel too guilty though, as Nigella herself confessed to adapting this recipe from Tish Boyle’s Diner Desserts.
Maybe someone will adapt my chocolate fudge cake recipe?
** Please note that I am not a qualified nutritionist or professional cook. My recipes are what I put together at home and all amounts etc… are approximate. What I write is my own experience of cooking the recipe. Ovens and ingredients do vary – just go with it, have fun and apply common sense at all times! Practice makes perfect!**
**There are no affiliate links in this post**