A chocolate cake for me has to be dark in colour, moist yet light in texture and most of all tasting of chocolate. it took me some time to perfect this sponge. For the buttercream filling I have chosen to create a velvety smooth dark chocolate buttercream which is so easy to make, not too sweet and is very well behaved, being perfect for smoothing and piping. You will probably not want to make any other buttercream after trying this.


Oven baking temperature – 170 degrees Celsius (fan assisted)

To make the cakes:
To begin – break the chocolate into a small bowl set over a pan of recently boiled water off the heat and leave to melt gently. Once melted take off the heat and set aside.
In a separate bowl add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract then add the measured milk stirring in little by little until you have a smooth thin chocolate paste – set aside.

In a large mixing bowl – cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then add the black treacle or golden syrup and whisk well to combine.
Add the eggs one at a time whisking well between each addition to avoid a curdle.
Sift the flour and add to the batter then fold in slowly and thoroughly by hand with a metal spoon, not the whisk.
Once you have a smooth yet thick batter add the cocoa/milk paste and stir well to make sure there are no flecks of light coloured batter remaining then finally add the melted and cooled chocolate.

Divide between the three tins using weighing scales to ensure even sized finished sponge layers.
Transfer to the oven preheated to 170 degrees celsius (fan assisted) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cakes are evenly risen and firm to the touch.  The cakes will probably rise with a slight dome but as they cool in the tins will flatten out and start to leave the sides of the tin.

When cool take out of the tins, remove the base paper and leave on cooling racks.

To make the buttercream:
Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and stand over a pan of recently boiled water and leave to melt gently or use the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between. Once melted then set aside off the heat.
In a roomy mixing bowl place the soft butter, cocoa powder and vanilla extract and with the whisk on its lowest speed blend them together so that you have a very thick dark coloured creamed mix. Once the cocoa powder has blended in then increase the whisk speed and whisk until fluffy.
Have the can of condensed milk to hand and add 2 tbsp at a time and whisk well between each addition until the full can has been added. Whisk until the cream is looking light, smooth and silky.
Whisk in then the cool melted chocolate and the buttercream is ready to use.

When ready to assemble the cakes – if the sponges have domed slightly then slice off the tops with a serrated knife before stacking and filling each layer with buttercream. I find the sponges settle as they cool to leave a flat topped cake and no trimming is necessary.

As I stack the cakes I use a small spirit level to ensure the cake is straight and flat.

Add then a crumb coat of cream, smooth off and chill in the fridge for at least an hour so that the cake and filling can firm up.

Take from the fridge and use the rest of the cream to top coat, smooth and decorate.

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