Icing a cake neatly is a stressful task, so a recipe like this, where a soft, fudgy icing is just slathered all over the cake with a spatula is much more fun than obsessional piping. The cake in the middle of all that icing is a lovely light, moist spongy affair, made rich with plenty of butter and cocoa. This is probably not great for your New Year’s diet, but I’d suggest doing what Dr Weasel is doing today, and making one to take to the office in order to scotch the weight-loss ambitions of your colleagues.
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons boiling water
175 g softened unsalted butter
175 g caster (superfine) sugar
3 large eggs
175 g self-raising flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
50 g softened unsalted butter
35 g cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
225 g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F). Grease and line a 25cm round cake tin – I like to use a springform tin, which makes turning the cake out later much easier.
Mix the cocoa with the hot water from the kettle in a mixing bowl, and leave aside to cool. Sift the flour into the bowl and add the butter, sugar, eggs and baking powder. Beat with an electric whisk on high for about two minutes, until the mixture is stiff and pale. Spoon into the lined cake tin and bake for 35 minutes. Check for done-ness by pushing a skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, with no chocolatey bits adhering, the cake is done. Turn out onto a metal rack and remove the greaseproof paper to cool.
To make the icing, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the cocoa. Cook, stirring well, for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk and icing sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth, and cool until thick enough to spread over the cooled cake.
If you like, you can cut the cake in half horizontally at this point and glue the halves together with some of the icing. Dr Weasel, who is in charge of cakes in our house, decided to use the fudgy mixture to ice the top and sides of the cake – and very delicious it was too.