CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
225g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line your cake pan.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water). Cool slightly.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With beaters on medium speed, add vanilla, then add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in cooled chocolate and beat until well combined. Beat in a third of sifted ingredients, followed by a third of the milk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating until smooth.
Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.
To serve, spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake using a hot palette knife, then decorate with chocolate curls.
To make chocolate ganache: Melt 150g chopped good-quality dark chocolate with 125ml pure cream and 20g unsalted butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until well combined, then set aside for 30 minutes to cool and thicken before use.
To make chocolate curls: Using a palette knife, spread melted chocolate 2-3mm thick on a hard clean surface such as a glass chopping board or marble slab that you can move. Stand at room temperature until almost set. Shave curls using a peeler or palette knife, pulling towards you at an angle. If the chocolate breaks, it is set too hard – leave in a warm place until more pliable. To make small curls, simply run a peeler along the side of a block of chocolate.