I have been baking since I was a very small girl, my mother always had a cake on the go and can whip up a lemon drizzle cake in a nearly impossible short time. Baking is such an important part of any childhood and many bonds are formed over cookie dough and cupcake batters. I adore baking and was always drawn to the pastry dept at work. It felt like my natural habitat in the professional world of cooking and I love the beautiful attention to detail that all forms of baking demand. But no matter how much training and experience I have had, it always boils down to one recipe.
When I was training in Paris, many years ago, I was entered into a culinary competition. I was up against six young French, boy chefs (I was also young at the time!). I was the only girl and a Brit. No hope! I won, can’t remember what I cooked for the starter or main course, I do remember one of the others made a ring of crispy, fish skin to go on top of his fish main course and I panicked so it can’t have been that good. But I won it on the back of my pudding and much to the surprise of the pastry dept I made a simple ‘Quatre Quatre’ cake with pistachio cream, raspberries and candied lemon zest. This sponge recipe is traditional of most British cakes and the first recipe I learnt off by heart.
‘Quatre Quatre’ refers to the quantities of the 4 main ingredients. Butter, Sugar, Eggs and Flour. I work in grams but if you work in ounces its the 4 ingredients, the number of eggs is half the number of ounces. So 8 ounces = 4 eggs, 6 ounces = 3 eggs etc etc….Get this right and your a cake genius forever after.
Chocolate cakePrint Recipe
- For the sponge
- 250g Stork or baking margarine
- 250g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 250g Self-raising flower
- 2tbs cocoa powder (I use Green & Blacks)
- 2tbs hot water
- For the icing
- 300g dark chocolate
- 180ml double cream
- 10g butter
Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time
In a separate bowl dissolve the cocoa into the hot water until you get a paste
Sift the flour into the cake batter and add the chocolate paste, fold the whole thing together, by hand using a spatula or wooden spoon.
Grease two cake 8inch cake tins, divid the batter between the two tins and bake at 180oC for approx 35 mins. As soon as you can smell the cake baking its done. Test with a skewer if you need.
Remove from the tins and leave to cool on wire rack
For the icing
Heat the cream to almost scalding
Break the chocolate up into pieces
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for a couple of mins
Gently stir the cream and chocolate together and add the butter
Leave the whole mix to cool, it will thicken as it cools
Use the icing to sandwich the sponges together and on the top.
You can add scents that compliment chocolate to the cake. I used orange zest but you could add any red berries, alcohol, nuts or other chocolate.