There are two types of cakes: cakes and Cakes. The difference is in the taste; cakes are just cakes, when they are technically properly made, they are tender, they are sweet, they are always a treat. On the other hand, Cakes are game changing. They are full of mmms and uhhhs, they thrill your taste buds, they elevate you to a baking star in the eyes of your social scene.
The secret in making a Cake lies in the ingredients. Any given cake consists mainly of flour, sugar, fat, eggs and liquid. And for chocolate cakes, cocoa or chocolate, or both. As a cake is the sum of its parts, it seems only natural to think that the better the ingredients, the more tasteful the cake. But before setting out to buy the most expensive chocolate, organic eggs, Normandy butter and flour harvested from ancient wheat varieties, let me tell you two secrets for this Chocolate Cake, which is actually a Cake, without using any of the above.
Firstly, instead of regular white sugar, it calls for Dark Muscovado sugar. You can read more about it here, but for now let me tell you that this is the number one reason this Chocolate Cake has a stellar taste. Dark Muscovado’s rich and exotic taste combines perfectly with the tropical taste of chocolate and transforms this otherwise simple cake into a Cake. Second, in place of the liquid, it calls for buttermilk instead of milk. Buttermilk, being a cultured product, has a special taste and makes a cake shine.
Dark Muscovado Chocolate Cake recipe
This Chocolate Cake is lovely, easy to make and straightforward. I offer substitutes, so you can still make the cake, if you do not have Dark Muscovado sugar or buttermilk. It will be a cake instead of a Cake, but still a good one. Note that Dark Brown Sugar is not Dark Muscovado sugar. For the richest taste, use the one labeled as Dark Muscovado sugar. If not available, you can use Dark Brown Sugar, or any sugar you have handy; see substitutes in the footnotes.
If using Dark Muscovado sugar, know that the flavour of the cake changes as it sits. The first day the dark muscovado sugar is more pronounced in the cake, whereas the next day the flavours mellow to a more complex taste.
For the topping you can use any type of ganache or glaze you like. Here, I give you my go-to option when it comes to treating little creatures, which is Milk Chocolate ganache; this makes it the perfect Chocolate Cake for Little Hands.
You will need a 23 cm (8-inch) square pan
Ingredients for the cake:
- 125 gr / 4.4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 300 ml / 10 fluid ounces buttermilk, divided into 100 ml + 200 ml ( 3 fl.oz. + 7 fl.oz) substitutes
you can replace it with any kind of dairy milk, full fat or skimmed. Another choice is nut milk (almond milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk etc.). Important note: if using another milk instead of buttermilk, substitute the 1 tsp. baking soda with 1 tsp. baking powder
- 250 gr / 8.8 ounces dark muscovado sugar , softened
If your muscovado sugar has hardened, you will have to soften it first. Start by measuring the quantity you need to use and put it in a container with two slices of apple (no need to peel). Close tightly with a lid and let it soften, the sugar will absorb the apple’s moisture and become soft again. This may take a few hours. A faster way to soften it is by using a microwave oven: place in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a wet kitchen paper towel and a plate and burst for 40 seconds and then in 10-sec until softened.
- 125 gr / 4.4 ounces butter, cut in slices
- 2 large eggs
- 250 gr / 8.8 ounces all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda (or baking powder if using milk instead of buttermilk)
Ingredients for the Milk Chocolate Ganache
- 170 gr milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 100 gr heavy cream
plus, sprinkles or decoration of your choice
Step 1 – Prepare the ingredients
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
In a bowl, place the softened dark muscovado sugar with 100 ml (3 fl.oz.) buttermilk. Using a soft silicone spatula, stir to dissolve the sugar. Leave it for at least 10 minutes to hydrate, stirring often and pressing any undissolved sugar clumps.
Lightly grease a 23 cm (8 inch) square pan. Line with baking paper 23cm (8 inch) in width and long enough, so that it goes up the sides to the rim (around 50 cm length). This will help to remove the cake from the pan, when baked.
Mix the flour with the baking soda and sift.
Step 2 – Prepare the cake base
Place the butter In a medium saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir to melt. The subsided heat should be enough to melt the chocolate. If not, return to the heat for a few moments to fully melt. Using a whisk slowly add the dark muscovado-buttermilk mixture, while whisking to combine. Check if the temperature is tepid. If not, wait for a while to cool before adding the eggs.
Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well before each addition. Add half of the flour and using a spatula, gently fold it into the mixture. Then add half the buttermilk and fold. Repeat with the rest of the flour and buttermilk, until no traces of flour remain. Do not overmix.
Step 3 – Bake the cake
Bake for around 30 minutes, checking for doneness after this time. A knife inserted in the cake should come out clean. Do not overbake, or the cake will be dry. Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. After that, invert it on a plate, remove the baking paper and return it back on the wire rack to cool completely before adding the ganache.
Step 4 – Prepare the ganache
While the cake cools, prepare the ganache. In a bowl, place the milk chocolate. In a small saucepan add the heavy cream and warm till hot and steamy. Pour it over the chocolate, let sit for 30 seconds and stir, for the chocolate to melt and the ganache to become smooth and shiny. Let cool and thicken.
Step 5 – Ice the cake
Using an offset spatula, cover the cake with the ganache. Sprinkle with the toppings of your choice, if using. Let the ganache set completely before cutting into neat squares.
Unfrosted, the cake keeps well, covered, for up to 3 days in room temperature. For longer storage you may cover tightly with aluminium foil and freeze up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours before icing.
Frosted: If using the milk chocolate ganache I would not recommend leaving it at room temperature for more than 1 day.
For any other ganache or glaze you may be using, check the recipe to see for how long you can to leave at room temperature. The rule of thump is that the more dairy (like heavy cream) in the glaze or ganache, the less time it can be stored at room temperature.
For Dark Muscovado substitutes
you can use any type of sugar instead of dark muscovado sugar. You can use white granulated sugar, raw cane sugar like demerara or turbinado, light/dark brown sugar or mixes of any of the above. Substitute in the same amount given for dark muscovado, in terms of weight. Sugar substitutes like stevia or any other are NOT recommended for this recipe.