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?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Classic Chocolate Mud Cake
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 6 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
This cake is best made the day before icing
- 250g/8.8ozs butter, cubed
- 200g/7ozs. dark chocolate
- 160g/5.6ozs brown sugar
- 160g/5.6ozs caster or superfine sugar
- 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs buttermilk
- 100mls/3.5ozs. espresso coffee
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
- 225g/8ozs. plain all purpose flour
- 55g/2ozs cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 150ml/5flozs cream
- 1.5 tablespoons glucose syrup or corn syrup
- 180g/6ozs chocolate (I used half milk half dark chocolate)
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 140C/285F and line the base and sides of a 20cm/8inch and 10cm/4inch tall round cake tin. In a large saucepan add the butter, chocolate, brown sugar, caster sugar, buttermilk and coffee and set to low medium heat to melt and stir to combine. Cool for 15 minutes and then whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
Step 2 - In a large bowl sift in the flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and whisk so that the cocoa is evenly distributed. Make a well in the centre and add in the liquid mixture gradually. To ensure that you get an even, velvety texture pass this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any lumps. Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until the centre is no longer wobbly or jiggly to the touch.
Step 3 - To make the ganache place the finely chopped chocolate or chocolate bits in a large, heatproof bowl and have a plate or cling film ready to cover the bowl completely. Heat the cream until almost boiling. Stir in the glucose syrup and mix until smooth and then pour over the chocolate. Place the lid on top covering all of the chocolate and leave to sit for 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth. If you get a few bits remaining you can microwave the chocolate mixture on 50% power until all of the chocolate has melted. Allow to sit for 60 minutes or even overnight at room temperature and then ice the cake.