This recipe has been in my family for a very long time. It dates back to a time before diet-friendly sweeteners, a time when no one knew about cholesterol, a time when a cake was an occasional treat, rather than a daily indulgence.
In most families, a cake would only be made to celebrate someone’s birthday, or to mark a religious festival. In other words, it didn’t happen very often. So when it did, people would pull out all the stops; there would be no scrimping on flour, butter, or eggs, and if they could afford a little extra, then there would be chocolate, or maybe even a daring dash of rum.
Yes, the resulting cake was rich. But it was also glorious. And every once in a while, I like to bake something glorious.
I usually make this cake as described below, in a savarin or garland tin. Sometimes though, for a really special occasion, I make it like my grandmother used to: in a large loaf tin, with the chocolate cut into small chips rather than melted.
Either way, I can promise you that it will be delicious.
You will need:
200 g unsalted butter, soft
275 g self-raising flour
250 g caster sugar
125 g dark chocolate
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp rum
Preheat your oven to 210 C/ fan 200 C/ gas 6.
Grease a large savarin tin.
In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar. Beat well with a large wooden spoon until light in colour and creamy in consistency. This will require a bit of elbow grease, but don’t be tempted to rush this stage: the more effort you put in, the lighter your cake will be. If you have a KitchenAid mixer or similar, use the paddle attachment.
Add the flour in batches, and stir until combined (the batter should be quite stiff). Add the rum, then the egg yolks one by one, mixing thoroughly all the while.
In a clean bowl, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and beat them to stiff peaks.
Add about a quarter of the egg whites to the batter and mix to loosen the texture a bit. Then add the rest, a few spoonfuls at a time, mixing carefully so you don’t lose the “lift” from the egg whites.
Melt the chocolate (either in a microwave or on the hob in a bain marie). Pour two thirds of the batter into the prepared tin, then mix the rest with the melted chocolate.
Delicately pour the chocolate batter over the plain one in the tin. To make the swirly pattern, dip a fork into the tin then gently rotate through the batter. Don’t overdo it, you don’t want the two batters to start mixing.
Bake for about 40 min, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 min then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before eating. If you can wait until then, it will taste even better the next day.