Charlie's first birthday brought with it a dilemma. Have a big bash, frowned upon by parenting gurus, or keep it low key. Refusing to be made to feel guilty for 'putting him through' a party, we shunned advice and pulled out all the stops.
One crucial element of the day: the cake. No guilt-wracked conscience here. It had to be big, it had to be sugary, and it had to be chocolatey.
A cake connoisseur, my friend Sarah suggested Nigella's Chocolate Fudge Cake from Nigella Bites. The recipe that follows is lifted word for word from her website. I decorated it with strawberry halves, white chocolate shavings (which my mother thought was Parmesan....), and icing sugar. It worked a treat, and was devoured with gusto by babies and adults alike.
It serves 10 adequately, 20 at a snip, and 60? - no chance. We managed to feed 40, but they only got a meagre sliver.
- 400g plain flour
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 50g best quality cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 142ml/small tub sour cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 125ml corn oil
- 300ml chilled water
FOR THE FUDGE ICING:
- 175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 275g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended, then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.
- Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave - 2-3 minutes on medium - or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
- In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
- Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.
As you can see, our singing didn't go down too well. But I can promise that the cake did.