This is based on the fabulous yoghurt cake recipe. If I haven't mentioned this before, then you must must must try this recipe. It's so so easy, requires NO weighing and is endlessly adaptable. My personal favourite is dark cherry yoghurt, replacing some of the flour with ground almonds or even oats.
Great for people who don't bake much, all you need is a bowl large enough to mix everything in and a receptacle for baking. Try muffin, sandwich or loaf tins. Even a large rectangle tin would be perfect for creating bite size cakes for afternoon tea.
I'm still developing student recipes for www.oxnosh.co.uk. While I knew this recipe would be great for students, I wanted something that would also work for a birthday cake. Birthdays are generally the occasion when most people dust of their mixing bowls. To me, birthday + student = chocolate. So, I tweaked the yoghurt cake recipe and came up with this version using cocoa powder, no chocolate melting involved!
You end up with a rich, moist chocolate cake ready for decorating. Make sure the cake is comletely cool before attempting to ice, too many times have I let impatience get the better of me and ended up fighting back the melting whipped cream (and the tears) as it cascades down the side of the cake.
Here we've filled the cake with whipped cream and iced with chocolate ganache, but you could try a mascarpone and raspberry filling. An easy grown up version - chocolate and raspberries are a delicious combination, strawberries would be great too. Mascarpone, although a little more expensive is great because all you need to do is stir it vigorously with a little icing sugar and maybe vanilla until it's soft and billowing like a dense whipped cream and stir the fruit in gently. Spoon generously onto one sandwich and top with the other.
My top tip for icing a cake successfully with minimum mess is to tear 4 long strips of greaseproof paper and place them on the edge of your plate. Top with the filled cake and do one layer of icing. The greasproof paper means you can be as messy as you want (within reason), you're going for general coverage here, trying to make the surface as smooth as possible in a thin coat of icing. Let this chill in the fridge before doing the second layer.
Once dry, pull the strips out from under the cake for a perfectly clean plate.
Chocolate Ganache Icing
Melt all the icing ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring gently. Keep whisking until it becomes thick and glossy.
Wait until the cakes are completely cool before icing. Place four strips of baking paper (or just normal paper) on the edge of a plate and place one of the cakes on top.
Pour half the cream into a large bowl with 1tbsp icing sugar and whisk until softly whipped (the peaks stand up by themselves). Spread this over the cake on the plate. Top with the other half.
Melt all the icing ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring gently. Keep whisking until it become thick and glossy. Ice the cake in 2 thin layers, chilling in between.