Chaos in Cambridge Recipe

Petronella Dixon's Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

10 oz. soft brown sugar

1 oz. cocoa powder

3 fl. oz. water

8 oz. flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

4 oz. butter

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs, separated

¼ pint sour cream

For the frosting:

4 oz. butter, softened

8 oz. icing sugar, sifted

4 oz. plain chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon milk

1 oz. chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts), to finish

Put 3 oz. of the sugar in a pan with the cocoa powder and water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for a few minutes until smooth, stirring constantly. Leave to cool.

Sift the flour and remaining dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cream together the remaining sugar and the butter until fluffy, then beat in the vanilla essence and the egg yolks until the mixture is light. Stir in the cooled cocoa mixture and fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the soured cream. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cake mixture until evenly mixed.

Pour the mixture into a deep 7-inch round greased cake tin. Bake in a moderate oven (350°F) for about 1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for about five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the icing, beat the butter with an electric, rotary beater, or wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until thoroughly mixed. Put the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl with the milk and stand over a pan of hot water until melted, stirring occasionally. Stir into the butter and icing sugar mixture.

Cut the cake into two layers. Spread the bottom layer with three-quarters of the icing and re-shape the cake. Spread the top with the remaining icing and sprinkle around the edge with chopped nuts.

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