Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Mrs Cake's Favourite Chocolate Cake Recipe

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?

Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp golden syrup
250g butter
4 cups flour
6 Tbsp cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
600ml milk
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.


  1. That cake sounds pretty classic - not tooo dissimilar to the recipe which won me 'best cake' at Calf Club in Form 2. Always nice to revisit the old favourites.

    I can't quite work out how the splash guard works, but it sounds like something I could do with - accidentally flung a spoonful of vanilla sugar into my hair today, what a waste!

  2. It was the 'two egg' part of the recipe That I always liked about this. The golden syrup must make up for another egg or two - anyway, generally surprised people that a huge cake could be made with two eggs. Originally recipe came from Audrie Mackenzie.

  3. Laura, it's definitely won me a competition or two over the years too! And it is nice not to ignore the old classics.

    The splash guard is just a lid with a hole in it; you poke the beaters through the hole so most of the flour/icing sugar/milk that leaps up when you start beating is caught by the lid instead of the walls/your hair/any passing pedestrians. Simple concept but have only seen it on stand mixers up till now - take note, bowl makers!

    Mum, I definitely like that, too! Last time I costed it out it was about $15 to make a full size cake and ice with ganache (which is about the most expensive of my standard icing options). :-)

  4. Wow your workmates must love being offered such beautifully presented and no doubt delicious food on a frequent basis.

  5. 3Kg:2Kg Icing sugar:cream cheese
    with two tablespoons vanilla is what we use at work. But it wouldn't ever keep shape like that.

  6. Anon, they definitely don't complain - I have noticed it's a bit dangerous to get into a habit, though, as they'll come to expect it! ;-)

    Cathie, I think icing sugar is almost non-Newtonian; the more you add the more liquidy it seems to become (they actually used to add cornstarch which would help with that, but I don't think they do anymore and I still see this). The butter is what makes it stiff. :-)

  7. Thank-you sooo much used this recipe for my son's 5th birthday cake was easy to make(after changing mixing bowls), and went down a treat :D

  8. I'm glad it worked out well for you! :-) I hope Mr 5 had a magnificent celebration.

  9. wish I'd used my splash guard...... Hehe. That mixture sure can fly!

    Great cake, and makes heaps!! Yay for Mrs Cake's Mother :) (I've put it in my recipe book as 'Fern Cake')

  10. Haha, it can indeed... Slow and steady wins the race. ;-)


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