I made this as it was Halloween. Yes, this Halloween will be a bit more subdued, but hey any excuse for chocolate cake.
This is by all accounts a really old recipe that was originally developed by Hershey Chocolate, to highlight their cocoa powder.
I used supermarket own brand and it worked fine. Please don’t be tempted use powdered drinking chocolate, it will not taste good.
You’ll see there is coffee in this cake, don’t worry about this. I don’t like coffee flavoured desserts either. I promise you won’t taste the coffee, but it does bring out the flavour of the chocolate.
Yes this is very rich, but its not something that you’re going to eat everyday. You won’t be disappointed, this is definitely going in the pure filth file.
For the cake
230 Grams Plain flour
70 Grams Cocoa powder
400 Grams Sugar
2 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2 Tsp Baking powder
1 Tsp Salt
250ml Buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, a 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to ordinary milk and allow to sit for a few minutes)
250ml Strong black coffee (or 1 Tbsp of instant coffee dissolved in 250ml of hot water)
125ml Vegetable oil (Best to use a flavourless oil like sunflower oil)
1Tsp Vanilla extract
For the icing
200 Grams Dark chocolate
175ml Double cream
50 Grams Butter
This is a super easy cake to make. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 x 8 inch cake tins
For the cake part, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
Add the wet ingredients and mix for 90 seconds with an electric whisk
Pour the mix evenly between the two prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling wrack and allow to cool completely before adding the icing
For the ganache icing, break up the chocolate and add to a heat proof bowl.
Heat the cream in a saucepan until just before boiling and pour on top of the chocolate, and whisk.
Melt the butter and whisk into the cream and chocolate and you will soon have thick and glossy icing. Allow to cool to room temperature
Place one of your cake layers on a plate or cake stand. Spread about one third of the icing on top of the cake and spread evenly with a palate knife
Top with the second cake layer and pour one third of the icing on top, spreading evenly with a palate knife again. Spread the remaining icing around the sides, and add any other decoration you might want
Halloween is a big thing in Ireland. Before all the commercialised plastic jack o laterns, fake cobwebs and Americanised trick or treating, Holloween was an ancient Celtic festival. According to legend Halloween was the night your ancestors souls returned to earth. Mischief and mishaps could occur, and there is also sorts of folklore that changes depending on where you go in the country.
Barm back (bairin breac in Irish, and apologies to all Irish speakers if I’ve misspelled this) was traditionally eaten at this time. This roughly translates as speckled loaf. The loaf is speckled with raisins and sultanas plump from being soaked in tea. There are stories that people would include different items and if you got it in your slice of the bread that would be your fortune for the year. These included things like if you got a ring you would get married, a dried pea meant you would stay single, and piece of cloth foretold poverty. There are various recipes, some use yeast, this one doesn’t and is much more straightforward. I used ordinary tea in this recipe, but you can also use teas like Earl Grey, or fruit teas. Some people include treacle, but I don’t like it so I left it out. The grated orange zest isn’t traditional but it’s what I like.
275 Grams Raisins
100 Grams Sultana
50 Grams Mixed peel (some supermarkets sell mixed fruit, so you can just total up to 425 Grams and use this instead)
300ml Black tea
200 Grams Brown sugar
225 Grams Self raising flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 orange
The night before you make the barm brack, make 300ml of black tea. I just added a tea bag to hot water for a couple of minutes, don’t let it stew for too long or it will get bitter. You don’t need to leave this overnight, but try to leave it at least 3-4 hours
In a bowl, add the sugar, flour, spices and orange zest and combine. Add an egg and then add the tea and soaked fruit and mix well.
Transfer to a round 8 inch baking tin and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for 90 mins. Because there is quite a lot sugar in this loaf, it goes quite dark. This is how it’s meant to be, but about half way through I cover the top with some tin foil to stop it taking on too much colour before it’s fully cooked.