On sunny winter days, it’s always a good idea to drag a little table and a large chocolate buttermilk cake into the garden for tea.
Hot tea and large slabs of cake keep hands and hearts warm. This chocolate cake makes a party out of any day — actual birthday optional! It really is a pleasure: no illusions of grandeur or unfulfilled promises, just good, honest chocolate cake. BYO birthday candles.
MAKES ONE 18CM LAYER CAKE
225g plain flour
50g Dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
27g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
250ml buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
125g unsalted butter, softened
20g Dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder
240g icing sugar
Sprinkles or chocolate buttons (melts)
to decorate, optional
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-forced. Grease three 18cm round cake tins well with butter and line the bases with baking paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb soda into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the salt and caster sugar and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, place the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix on low until smooth. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then beat again, this time on medium speed, for 1 minute or so, until the mixture is smooth, fluffy and lighter in colour.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the cakes have risen and are cooked through. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes or so, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are cool, make the chocolate buttercream by combining the butter, cocoa and half the icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix until smooth before adding the buttermilk and remaining icing sugar. Beat well, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times, until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
To assemble, place one of the cakes on a serving plate and spread with one-third of the buttercream. Top with the second cake and spread with another third of the buttercream. Sandwich the final cake on top and swirl on the remaining icing. Decorate with sprinkles or chocolate buttons if you like; otherwise, slice and eat as is.
Any leftover cake will keep happily in an airtight container in a cool place for a day or two.
TEA & BLOOMS MATCH Earl Grey and mixed winter blooms.
Images and text from The Plain Cake Appreciation Society by Tilly Pamment, photography by
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