In times of stress, only excess will do: this is an enormous cake. But it keeps very well and there is no such thing as too much chocolate cake.
For the cake
- 1⅛ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- ¾ cup full-cream milk
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- 3 cup plain flour
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 350 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1½ cup white sugar
- 6 eggs
For the frosting
- 150 g dark chocolate (unsweetened)
- 1 cup cream cheese (whipped)
- 2½ cup icing sugar
- 175 g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Butter two large rectangular baking tins (33 x 23 x 5 cm) and line them with baking paper.
Butter the paper and dust the tins with cocoa (you could use flour, but cocoa adds both colour and flavour to your cake). Hold the tins over a sink and give them a gentle tap so the excess cocoa floats off.
For the cake, measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in 1½ cups of boiling water until it is smooth, dark and so glossy it reminds you of chocolate pudding. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and ¾ teaspoon salt.
Put the butter into the bowl of a standmixer and beat in the sugars until the mixture is light, fluffy and the colour of coffee with cream (it will take about 5 minutes).
One at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds before adding the next. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2 batches, alternating flour and cocoa.
Pour half of the batter into each tin and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a skewer comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the tins rest on cooling racks for 2 minutes, then turn the cakes onto racks to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, chop the chocolate and melt it down in a bowl over heat, sitrring gently. Let it cool (enough that you can put your finger in the chocolate comfortably).
While it’s cooling, mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the chocolate, the vanilla and a dash of salt, and mix in the icing sugar until it looks like frosting.
Assemble the cake by spreading about a third of the frosting on one of the cooled layers, putting the second layer on top, and swirling the rest of the frosting over the top and sides.