My basic recipe for flourless chocolate cake calls for equal weights of sugar, butter, 70% cocoa chocolate and eggs – a kind of quatre quarts au chocolat, or chocolate pound cake, which is very open to tweaks and additions. One of the simplest, yet most rewarding, is exchanging the usual white sugar for muscovado, a raw sugar, that’s rough as a bandit’s chin. You’ll notice the flavour is a deal more pronounced the day after the cake is baked: hints of black liquorice minus the aniseed.Add the finely grated zest of a large orange, too, especially if you like dark, Oxford-style marmalades
For a 20cm round springform cake tin
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 200g unsalted butter
- Grated zest of a large orange – optional
- 4 medium or 3 large eggs
- 200g muscovado sugar
Chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl with the butter and a pinch of salt. Set the bowl over – but not touching – barely simmering water in a pan. When the chocolate and butter have melted, remove and stir until you have a lovely shiny gloop. Add the orange zest, if using, and set aside to cool a little. Alternatively, carefully (i.e. in short bursts, to avoid burning) melt the chocolate and butter separately in the microwave, then mix together.
In a clean, separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale.
Using a large metal spoon, fold the chocolate and egg mixtures together to make a homogenous brown batter. This can take a while. Aim for exaggerated looping movements, keeping as much of the whisked-in air as possible.
Grease your springform tin generously and line its base with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to the tin and bake in the centre of a 160°C oven. Most recipes recommend using a water bath. The resulting texture can be marginally better, but it’s optional. If you do want to use one, wrap the base and sides of the cake tin with a large sheet of foil to make it watertight, then place it in a larger tin and pour in enough tap-hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake tin.
After about 25 minutes, check for doneness by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake. If the skewer comes out wet, as it may well do, the cake isn’t ready. When the skewer comes out slightly damp and with a few crumbs on it, the cake is probably perfect. If it comes out dry, you’ve overcooked the cake, but it will still be good to eat.
When it’s done, remove from the oven and gently run a knife around the edge of the cake. A few minutes later, release the clip and carefully remove the springform ring. Allow the cake to cool, then transfer to the fridge for at least a few hours before serving. An overnight chill is ideal.
Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!