Since Change Matters is 1 years old we thought it would be a good idea to celebrate with a chocolate cake – the kind that stops you in your tracks, a mouth-watering sensation of pure and unadulterated decadence, something normally prohibited in daily use but quite acceptable for special occasions – albeit in small quantities.
Now I must confess that cake-making is not my forte, in fact, my first attempt to bake for a school fund raising event was a disaster that left me almost scarred for life with embarrassment. Perhaps this is the only time where the correct proportions, ingredients and following instructions do matter – believe me even then you might get a result not entirely what you expected – I should know, I once got six flat results. OK, I did turn the disaster into a fair height with layers of icing and I got the kids to buy back the cake – but if only I had learned to follow those instructions! Since then I have scoured recipe books, magazines, the sides of flour packets and whatever advice I could get from friends about ‘fail-safe’ cakes and have done what they told me to do.
The following cake recipe is intriguing as you don’t have to use a traditional cake tin. Also the shape of the container is oblong which lends itself to a number of ways the end result can be served such as squares or it can be cut into different shapes to form and build your child’s latest request for a ‘dragon’ cake. The container is also recyclable because it is made out of cardboard! It is also freely available – all you have to do is ask your local liquor store or supermarket for an empty beer-box that used to contain 24 cans.
I got this recipe from my friend Rae. She doesn’t remember where she got it from, but she has used it often through the years of children growing up and on other festive occasions.
Chocolate Beer-Box Cake
Grease-proof paper to line the box – not wax-paper!
A Weighing Machine
2 Mixing bowls- 1 large and 1 medium
Baking Rack – to cool the cake
6 heaped Tablespoons of Cocoa
150ml of Sunflower Oil
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Essence
Only bring these ingredients to the boil. Stir the ingredients whilst coming to the boil so that all oil globules that form on the surface are broken down and the cocoa is thoroughly mixed.
630g of Castor Sugar
Use a large size bowl and an electric beater. Beat the eggs and sugar until they are the consistency of thick sticky cream
420g of Cake Flour
6 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
A Pinch of Salt
Use the medium size bowl. Make sure that flour is well aerated when sifting and that the baking powder is fresh.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mix.
Fold in the wet ingredients and stir gently until well mixed
Pour into lined beer-box. Make sure that the corners are stapled.
Bake at 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or when the top of the cake is pressed lightly it seems firm.
Remove from oven. Lift out by the edges of the paper or tear open the box.
Allow to cool on a baking rack
This will depend on what the occasion is. A standard chocolate butter icing is:
350g Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Milk
Mix the icing sugar, cocoa and butter together, adding milk and vanilla essence as you go.
A more decadent icing is:
6 small ‘Bar Ones/Mars Bars’ or a large slab of dark chocolate
250ml of Double Thick Cream
Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. As it starts melting add your cream until all the ingredients are blended together into a consistency that will spread easily over the cake – not too thick and not too runny.
This is where your imagination can go wild. Rae has been known to use broken up pieces of Chocolate Coated Peanuts, ‘Whispers’, ‘Bar-Ones/Mars-Bars’, ‘Smarties’ or Chocolate Vermicelli – whatever takes your fancy. As you can see from our picture we used the decadent icing alternative with a fancy ribbon.