To be honest, I just wanted an excuse to try out these wonderful paper loaf-tin liners. You can pick them up at any respectable supermarket or Swedish furniture warehouse, and they just make lining a loaf tin a whole lot easier. But then I get to show you my failsafe chocolate cake recipe too. You don’t need to make this loaf-shaped if you don’t want to – if you bake in cake tins, just turn the oven up by 20C and check to see if it’s done after 20-25 minutes.
Making a chocolate cake is as easy as making any cake – the process is exactly the same, but with cocoa powder in place of some of the flour. Some make the mistake of simply adding a couple of tablespoons of cocoa to their normal Victoria mix, but this will result in a dry sponge. Always reduce the flour accordingly. And yes, you could add chocolate chips to make it extra delicious. But I always prefer to add my chocolate on top if I can – this means it can be melted gradually and not with the extreme heat of the oven, giving it a much better snap. If you use a hot knife to cut it, it gives an excellent finish, too.
First, preheat your oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 2. It needs to be quite low, as the loaf will
be deep. Line a 2lb loaf tin with a paper loaf-tin liner, or with a crumpled square of baking paper.
Into a large bowl, weigh your butter and caster sugar. Use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to beat these together until really light and fluffy – almost white in colour.
Add your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then, finally, add your flour and cocoa. There’s no need to sieve it. Fold this in gently with a large spoon, scooping everything from the bottom of the bowl until smooth.
Place the mixture into your lined loaf tin and bake in your oven for 40-60 minutes. Yes, that long. Check after 40 and see how it’s doing – if it’s still wobbly, it’s got a way to go. If it seems set, stick a skewer in and see if it comes out clean. If it does, it’s done.
Leave it cool in the tin – there’s no need for a cooling rack. When it’s cool or nearly there, melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave using just 15-second bursts. When it’s nearly all melted, let it sit out for the rest to amalgamate. Drizzle this all over the loaf and let harden. Do not put it in the fridge. Slice with a hot knife.
If you don’t have these paper liners, don’t despair. Just shove a crinkled up piece of baking paper into your loaf tin. Don’t worry about any folds and indentations. They’re rustic.