A classic chocolate mud cake is a thing of beauty and yet mud cake is much maligned with cheap versions or imitation mud cake. A real classic chocolate mud cake is a rich, dense, velvety crumbed cake and an instant crowd pleaser. Flavoured with chocolate, cocoa, coffee and vanilla it's the sort of cake that is satisfyingly rich and delicious. And yet did you know that it is one of the easiest ever cakes to bake? I called her Anne.
This is my classic mud cake recipe, and one that I often use for decorative cakes. The reason that I love this mud cake recipe is that it is easy and produces a moist, velvety textured, dense mud cake (a mud cake is the opposite of a light chocolate sponge!). There are versions of mud cakes in many cuisines but at its most basic it is a very simple cake to make requiring no mixer. You mix in the wet ingredients into the dry and use both chocolate and cocoa to upp the chocolatey intensity. It's a cousin to the brownie but it's less rich than a brownie. The reason why mud cakes are used in decorative baking is that they are easy to carve, don't produce a lot of crumbs, hold their shape and it last for a while unlike other cakes that go stale quickly.
Tips for Making the BEST Chocolate Mud Cake
1 - This cake is ideal for baking a day ahead and then icing the next day.
2 - The big question: oil or butter in your mud cake? Some mud cakes use oil but that produces a different flavour and texture in your mud cake. The classic mud cake has a dense, velvety texture and oil doesn't give you the same result. I also don't like the flavour of oil as much as butter in this cake; it seems no matter how much vanilla, chocolate or cocoa you add, you can still taste oil. In cakes like carrot or hummingbird cake there are so many other flavours going on that you don't seem to taste the oil.
3 - I used a good quality dark chocolate for the mud cake itself (Callebaut). For the ganache I like to use a mixture of 50% dark and 50% milk chocolate.
4 - Use a tall non-springform cake tin as this mixture will rise quite high but then sink down to even once cool. My cake tin is 10cms/4inches tall.
5 - If you get any flour lumps I always pass my cake batter through a sieve to get rid of them. This gives the cake a more even crumb and the signature velvety, dense texture of a mud cake.
6 - Don't worry if the cake rises too much and cracks a little at the top. When it cools it will have an even top as the risen part evens out.
7 - For a beautiful, glossy ganache add some glucose syrup or corn syrup.
8 - The best way to make the ganache is to heat the cream and then pour it over the chocolate bits. The chocolate must be in "bit" form or finely chopped to make it easier to melt evenly. Then the bowl cover with a plate and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The chocolate should have melted. I find making ganache any other way produces lots of stubborn small lumps of chocolate.
9 - Store the mud cake at room temperature in an air tight container where it will last for 4-5 days.
I made this chocolate mud cake for my amazing builder Peter (this cake is also named after Peter's mum Anne). He was having a birthday while we were away and I promised him that I'd make him a birthday cake when we got back. "What kind of cake do you like?" I asked him. "I'm just a simple guy so just a chocolate mud cake," said Peter. Over the last few months I've learnt that he loves meat, he loves his barbecue, he loves his VB and he loves a classic mud cake.
Apart from being a great builder he is also some sort of miracle worker. Our bank account is feeling a bit abused post-holidays and I showed him a pill shaped black rimmed mirror for our downstairs bathroom and asked his opinion. He looked at it and said "That looks expensive, I'm sure I've seen them at the Bunnings for much cheaper than that,". An hour later he returned with pretty much the exact same mirror but for $60 instead of $700! Not surprisingly the staff at his local store love him and often mark items down for him. I joke that he will one day have a show called Everyone Loves Peter.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like chocolate mud cake? What cake did you choose for your birthday cake this year?