Thursday, 11 March 2010

The 21st Century Housewife's© Mocha Cake

I've been working on developing some new cake recipes recently, so when my husband's birthday was not very far off, I asked him what kind of cake he would like if he could have any cake in the world. Well, it turns out his Mum used to make him mocha cake for his birthday and he remembers it very fondly, so I decided to try and develop a recipe of my own. (Yes, it would have been easier to ask his mum for her recipe, but I wanted to develop my own!)

I have not cooked extensively with coffee despite the fact that I love it. My husband is a tea drinker so I've never sought out dessert recipes involving coffee. I love making Devil's Food cake, and I have a recipe of my own for that, so I decided to use it as the jumping off point to make my first mocha cake. I had heard about using espresso powder, but I didn't have any, so I decided to use instant coffee instead. It was quicker than brewing a pot and I figured I could make the flavour more intense that way. So I used a couple teaspoons instant coffee and blended it with one third cup of water. Here's my recipe.

The 21st Century Housewife's© Mocha Cake

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups white sugar (caster for preference, but granulated will do)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs, preferably free range
2¼ cups all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 generous pinches of salt
1 cup buttermilk (ordinary milk works, but the flavour is not as rich)
⅓ cup strong instant coffee


Preheat the oven to between 160℃ and 170℃ or 325℉ to 350℉ (depending on how fierce your oven is).

Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and cream together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into the butter and egg mixture. Mix the milk with the coffee and stir in.

Divide the mixture evenly between two round cake tins and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until a piece of raw spaghetti inserted in the centre of each layer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, I used a basic buttercream recipe of ¼ cup softened butter and 2 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar blended together. I then melted a quarter cup of dark chocolate chips and blended them in. Next I made some very, very strong coffee - about 2 tablespoons of instant coffee in about ⅓ cup of boiling water. I added this a bit at a time, and in the end only used about 2 tablespoons. You may find you have to add a bit more icing sugar to get the consistency right for spreading.

When the cake was cool, I iced it and sprinkled it with some sugar snowflakes to make it look pretty. (I'm not that good at elaborate cake decoration, but sprinkles I can manage!) We ate the cake after dinner with a glass of champagne. It was a huge success. My husband said the cake reminded him of his childhood, and even I (a huge critic of my own work) thought it was absolutely delicious. I was so pleased. I went to bed very, very happy.

....and woke up at 3.58 am utterly and completely wide awake - only to discover my husband was wide awake too. It wasn't long before I heard our son up and padding round the house as well.

It took us ages to get back to sleep - I know I laid awake until just after six am. This was a great pity as my alarm was set for seven. We were all exhausted.

It wasn't till I was standing in the kitchen holding my first cup of (you guessed it) coffee, that my husband said to me, "Just how much coffee did you put in that cake?" When I worked it out, I had probably used the equivalent of about six or seven cups of coffee in it, plus the chocolate has caffeine in it too. Oops.

Therefore, unless you enjoy insomnia, please use decaffeinated instant coffee when you make this cake!

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