Today's recipe can probably be accredited with putting the 'Cake' in 'Mrs Cake'; it's my Mum's chocolate cake recipe and I don't know when I first made it but it was a looooong time ago. It's chocolate cake, just chocolate cake, but it's good. Simple, basic, great with nothing or ice-cream straight from the oven, or with ganache or cream cheese icing once cooled. It does a great birthday or celebration cake and equally awesome cupcakes. It's not fussy, just a few simple steps.
With all that in mind, I can't believe that in over six months of blogging my go-to chocolate cake hasn't featured - so it's time to put that right. I thought some cupcakes would be the perfect vehicle for my butterflies.
As with most cakes, the first step is creaming the butter and sugar. I always use caster sugar in my baking, with the exception of when I'm melting it (e.g. for toffee), as I like the very marginal improvement afforded by the finer grain. ;-) That doesn't mean you have to - just thought I'd better give full disclosure! Along with the butter and sugar go the eggs and some golden syrup - yum...
Then you throw all the remaining dry ingredients except the baking soda in, and give it a bit of a mix. It'll be the consistency of slightly dry cookie dough once combined, and tastes fantastic. Not that I would dream of eating the batter. *cough*
In a microwave proof jug, combine the milk, baking soda and vanilla, and give it a quick zap (about 2 minutes) in the microwave. This activates the baking soda - an important step to avoid that nasty bicarbonate-y aftertaste that can happen.
Beating the liquids into the batter can be a bit messy - I was very pleased to have my jazzy splash guard (Tupperware definitely has some excellent products; this bowl was expensive but just saved our kitchen from being decorated in chocolate cake). If you don't have a splash guard just go sloooowly and you should be all right. :-) The batter is reasonably sloppy when it's ready.
The full mixture makes a 25cm round cake or about 32 cupcakes - but you can easily make a half-batch if you're not wanting so much - half the batter will make a 20-22cm round cake.
The part of the process that requires the most attention is how long you bake the cake(s) for; the knife above is when I took my cupcakes out; this is about perfect. If the knife is clean they might be a bit dry (make a syrup and drench the cake(s) if you think it might have left them a bit long) so just check the crumbs - it's pretty easy to tell the difference between batter (i.e. goo) and crumbs. :-)
I have made cream cheese icing about a billion times on the blog already, so I'll spare you the details of that. I will tell you, as you may not know and it occurred to me I always pipe my cupcakes but never proffer this information, that the piping tip I use for the gorgeous swirls is a Wilton 1M tip (a large drop star tip). This is actually a brand new one, as my previous one met an untimely death in the insinkerator about two weeks ago. Oops!
I topped the cupcakes with butterflies - so tomorrow will reveal how much my workmates embrace their inner children. ;-)
Some of my cupcake swirls were obviously a bit generous, as I ran out of icing to go all out for the last few, so I did a more sensible spatula version and popped some of my buttons on top. Which ones do you prefer?
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
4 cups flour
6 Tbsp cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 25cm cake tin or line 32-36 muffin pans with cupcake papers (you can do two batches if, like me, your oven isn't big enough/you only have two muffin tins).
Cream butter, sugar, golden syrup and eggs together. Add flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix to combine.
Warm milk, vanilla essence and baking soda in a microwave-prrof jug for about 2 minutes, and then gradually beat into the rest of the mix until the batter is smooth (but not longer than you need to).
Pour the batter into the cake tin or spoon into cupcake papers. Bake for about an hour for the cake, or 14-18 minutes for cupcakes. Check cupcakes by pressing lightly - if they spring back they're ready, or use a knife or skewer to test either cake or cupcakes. The skewer doesn't have to be clean - so long as the crumbs that come out are cooked.
Cream Cheese Icing
500g cream cheese
100g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Cream butter, then beat together all ingredients until creamy and smooth. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.