Have Your Cake

I’ve been to a 90th birthday celebration in Bristol today. It was a surprise birthday party. When my friend invited me to his mother’s celebration and mentioned that they were picking up a chocolate cake from Waitrose my immediate reaction was,”No! Not a supermarket cake!” With TM5 confidence I volunteered to bake it.

I summoned google for recipes for good old fashioned chocolate cake. There were too many to choose from and time was tight. I only had a 45 minute slot on a crazily busy day to get it done so I could take it on the train first thing the next morning. No time for trial and error.

My friend Rhian had told me a lovely story.  Her daughter had come home late from a party one night and was pottering in the kitchen.  Rhian shouted down to her that midnight was no the time to be cooking and to get to bed. When she  came down the next morning, she found a chocolate cake on the kitchen island with a note to the effect that she was the best mum ever.

I remembered that she had said it was her favourite chocolate cake recipe. It’s from the Fast and Easy Cookbook. I told her I didn’t want to ice the cake and that it had to be perfect just plain. She assured me that it was not only fool proof but absolutely perfect without frosting.

I made it. It was fast and it was easy and it was amazing! I am a novice baker having little patience for decoration. For me it is the taste more than the appearance that counts.

However this was after all a birthday cake to commemorate a rather special birthday. I’d baked the cake in a ring tube cake tin. It rose beautifully and cracked at the top. It was not the prettiest of sights.

A moment of inspiration had me hunting down a bowl that would fit perfectly in the hole in the centre of the cake. I filled the bowl with berries and it looked a treat! It could have come from a designer bakery! So not only have I discovered the best chocolate cake recipe ever (created, I believe, by Felicity Raines, a brilliant recipe developer for Thermomix UK), I have also found a great way to decorate it in seconds.

Ialeen at 90 is as incredible as when I met her 30 years ago. An eminent art historian, she taught at Newport College and inspired so many people. Her enthusiasm and encouragement have been inspirational to me over the years. I am very proud to have baked and presented a cake that befitted the occasion so perfectly. For that I have my Thermomix to thank!

Recipe: enough for sixteen slices!


100g softened butter.

250 g caster sugar

2 large eggs.

230g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g cocoa  powder

240g  milk & 1 tbsp lemon juice


1.  Grease a 9 inch tube ring cake tin with butter. Preheat the oven to 180C. Insert the butterfly whisk in the TM bowl. Weigh in softened butter and sugar. With the MC off, cream the butter and sugar on speed 3 till it is light and fluffy.

2. With the whisk running at speed 3, add the eggs one at a time to combine with butter and sugar.

3. Place a jug on the lid of the TM bowl and weigh in the milk. Squeeze the lemon juice into the milk. Set aside.

4. Weigh in the flour,  bicarbonate of soda and cocoa into the TM bowl. Add the soured milk. Whisk the mixture for 40 seconds at speed 4, scraping down the sides halfway through. Remove the butterfly whisk and pour the mixture into the baking tin.

5. Put the whisk back on and set the speed at 4 for a few seconds so the batter remaining on the whisk splatters to the sides of the bowl, remove the whisk and scrape this residue into the baking tin too.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate or not! Serve with cream or creme fraiche or eat it just as it is!


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