February 3, 2016

here's a chocolate cake

It's Wednesday and here is a chocolate cake. More specifically, this was my birthday cake. Do you hear fairies or angels singing?? I do, because I'm going to be posting three times this week! It's a February miracle. Am I right in thinking we're at that point in winter where we're all kind of ready for it to be over, and it's just not over, and things are blah (no? just me?) and wouldn't life just be better with some cake on a plate? Life is always better with some cake on a plate.

(my plate was also a birthday present. my sweet daughter chose it herself and I'm utterly delighted with it. here it is, it's not the dinner sized one, it's a side plate.)

I usually always a chocolate cake for my birthday. And I usually always make this particular cake, because it's easy, not too big, and now it's my special little cake. It's a chocolate almond cake. It's very nearly flourless, and it has almond flour (which is finely finely ground almonds basically) and it has whipped egg whites folded in, which gives it a lightness that you wouldn't expect from a nearly flourless chocolate cake. You'd expect that to be as heavy as lead, right? Nope.

The recipe comes from 'Tamasin's Kitchen Bible' by Tamasin Day Lewis, which is the BEST book for true British recipes and such fun to read. (only available used, but so worth seeking out) Nigel Slater loves her too, he says so right on the cover. (fun fact - Tamasin is sister to Daniel Day Lewis.)

She calls for baking the cake in either two 7 inch cake pans, which must be a Brit thing, because I've looked all over for that size and I can't find it. I think I'll have to special order from a cake supply place if I really want that size. OR she says that you can make it in one 8 inch round pan, which is what I always do.

In the book, the cake is called Miranda's Birthday Cake, because it was the first cake her daughter ever made for her. For today's post though, I'm just calling it Chocolate Almond Cake.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE - 'Tamasin's Kitchen Bible'

Ingredients for the Cake:

6 oz good dark chocolate, chopped (I use Lindt)
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (6oz)
3/4 cup white sugar (6 oz)
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup ground almonds (3 oz) - I use almond flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour (3 oz)

Ingredients for the Icing:

4 oz good dark chocolate, chopped (Lindt again)
3 tablespoons butter - (1 and 1/2 oz)
1/4 cup white sugar  (2 oz)
1/3 cup heavy cream (3 oz)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F / Gas 4. Grease and flour two 7 inch sandwich tins or one deeper, 8 inch round tin. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. (I do mine in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time and checking constantly.) Cream the butter with the sugar (this is easily done in a food processor), then add the egg yolks one by one, then the almonds, flour, and the melted chocolate. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks (DO NOT overbeat), then gently fold them into the mixture, little by little.

Divide the mixture between the tins and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. If using one deeper tin, cook for slightly longer. (between 25-28 minutes) Tamasin's daughter undercooks hers slightly for a damp, sticky center. Leave to cool slightly in the pan, then turn out on to a wire rack.

For the Icing - put all the ingredients into a bowl over a saucepan of hot water (I don't bother - I just melt it in a small saucepan right over a low flame) - stir gently over the heat. When smooth, leave to cool and then put into the fridge for a few minutes - it thickens as it cools, and becomes much easier to spread. If you have two sponges, sandwich them together with half the icing and spread half on top. If you have one sponge, cover the top and sides copiously with icing.

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DON'T BE SCARED of beating egg whites! That's what gives the cake its lovely light texture, despite all that chocolate. This cake is so, so, so good you guys. There's a reason I make it year after year! It is rich, but that makes it all the more ok to just keep slicing off the thinnest of slices....FIVE TIMES A DAY. I guess it's good that I only make it on my birthday.....I've just had it but you could make it for someone you love on Valentine's Day, I'm thinking.


  1. Thank you for posting about cake today. I have been craving something baked for the last few days - just feeling kind of blah - but have tried to tough it out and eat healthy stuff. Your cake gave me the freedom to eat cake. I don't have chocolate cake ingredients though, so I'm thinking maybe a coffee cake. I'm feeling better already!

    1. I laughed heartily at this delightful comment Miss Dana - freedom to eat cake!! That needs to be a bumper sticker. May we all feel the freedom to eat cake!

  2. I feel blah too. All through January and now looks like the trend will continue this month. I always make a chocolate dessert for the hubby for Valentine's (he cooks us a special meal) so thanks, I've got my recipe planned.

    1. oh fun! you'll love it. be warned - this is not a high rising cake, so don't be alarmed, although it will rise higher if you don't overwhip your egg whites. Another fun fact - My cake didn't want to easily come out of the pan this time around! And it sort of broke. It's such a moist cake though that I just shoved it back together, iced it, and no one could tell a thing!!

  3. When is your birthday? Did I miss it? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

    January for me is usually tough, but I had some really bad things happen early in the month, that actually make me feel grateful for February. I live in the extreme north, so we are seeing more light-I leave work at 4:00 (I'm a substitute teacher) and the fact it is still light feels great.

    Dana, I am a firm believer in a healthy dinner, and wonderful dessert. Moderation in all things, and if I have a chicken breast and a salad for dinner, bring on the chocolate sheet cake! I'm probably an old lady compared to a lot of commenters (I'm 55), and we have all heard it before-but life is freaking short! At this point in my life, I am sure not regretting wonderful desserts I have had :)

    1. Ha ha ha ha! You know, usually I trumpet my birthday around like it's a royal coronation because I'm silly and I love birthdays and I love MY birthday and well yeah. But I didn't this year for some reason. Very ill extended family member and I just couldn't muster up the energy. But we did have a lovely little day at home, Julia had the day off from school because of MLK day - and I got a cookbook and the plate and beautiful artwork that my husband created based off a photograph I took, and then we had sushi dinner, so it was a lovely day!!!

      Life IS short! Love that idea of healthy dinner and dessert. I think there is always ALWAYS a place for dessert. I keep a running list in my head of my all time favorite desserts.....:)

  4. This looks and sounds divine. I made a Coca-Cola Cake last week, which was delicious, but they're not exactly pretty.

    I'm not done with winter because I still want some snow!!!!

    1. Oooooooh I hope you get some and then take some pix for me! I guess the weather could fool us but I'm pretty sure except for one brief hour of light snow flurry back in December, there will be no snow for us this year, again! Big boo.

      I've ALWAYS wanted to try a cola cake! I used to have a retro desserts cookbook but I think I got rid of it, which now I'm sad about because it had a Twinkie PIE recipe in it that I had always wanted to try, but was too chicken.

  5. This looks and sounds divine. I made a Coca-Cola Cake last week, which was delicious, but they're not exactly pretty.

    I'm not done with winter because I still want some snow!!!!

  6. Oh no, go ahead. Post this stuff while I'm cleansing. Kill me now. And happy birthday.

    1. oooooh what cleanse are you doing??? I'd love to know!!