On Friday 14 October Australian Red Cross held the Big Cake Bake to raise funds for their important work. As discussed with Cupcake Day, I’m a sucker for baking themed fundraisers; so I put on my apron and got fundraising. Of course, logistically Big Cake Bake is a bit trickier than cupcakes, which come in user friendly individual serves, but it’s certainly more achievable than Pancake Day. In the spirit of user friendliness however, I did move the event from a Friday to a Monday to allow for joyful fun Sunday afternoon baking, rather than resentful late-night baking. I also chose to keep it simple, ignore dietary requirements and make two super easy cakes that I cut into slices and left in the break room with a tin for donations.
First I tried a recipe for “Apple and Berry cake” (courtesy of Donna Hay, via the testimonial of tv and radio personality Amanda Keller) which had come with the “host” pack Red Cross sent me. This cake was also incredibly easy to make, though the apple layer on top meant it wasn’t as easy to cut and looked a bit mangled once I went at it with a knife. The cake was a big hit; it had virtually disappeared by lunchtime and was well reviewed by co-workers.
Second I made my go to cake when I want results with little effort. If you’re looking for an easy, fluffy yet moist chocolate fix, a last minute cake, or a wet afternoon project with your (or someone else’s) kids, I cannot recommend this recipe highly enough.
It is recorded in mum’s cookbook as “Never Fail Chocolate Cake”. And with one notable exception when I was knee-high to the kitchen table and tried to ‘surprise’ mum, it never has. I’ve been making this cake my whole life (though mum did the heavy lifting for the first few years till she trusted me with an electric mixer). As such, I always feel just a little like I’m being lazy or defrauding the recipients when I make this cake, especially for birthdays. Which is silly, it was the default birthday cake of my childhood, and I’ve never made it for anyone who was less than thrilled to receive it. It’s actually great for birthdays when you want to decorate the cake, as it works well with coloured icing.
An earlier version of the cake, made for a Pisces themed party.
Pretension aside, sometimes it’s nice to use cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, flour instead of almond meal, and butter icing instead of ganache.
Never Fail Chocolate Cake
1 cup SR flour
1 cup sugar
3 tblsp butter
2 tblsp cocoa powder
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla (I always just use a good dash, I like to over use vanilla)
Mix all ingredients together
Add butter and beat for 3-4 min
Bake in a moderate oven 30 min or till a skewer comes out clean.