Bringing real baking into your home with deliciously simple recipes.
Prep 20min (+1hr 30min cooling time)Bake 30-35minMakes 10-12 serves
Everyone needs a good old-fashioned chocolate cake in their repertoire that is easy enough to whip up on a whim. Made with a simple melt-and-mix method this delicious cake is a real crowd-pleaser.
IngredientsMelted butter, to grease
125g diced butter, at room temperature
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
185ml (¾ cup) milk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
55g (½ cup) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
45g (½ cup) desiccated coconut
125g butter, at room temperature
185g (1½ cups) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease a square 20cm cake tin with melted butter and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
- Combine the butter, sugar and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves and mixture is combined (see Baker's Tips). Remove from heat and use a fork to whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the coconut. Add the butter mixture and use a balloon whisk to stir until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool (this will take about 1½ hours).
- To make the Chocolate buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl until pale and creamy and it is a smooth spreadable consistency. Spread the cooled cake with the buttercream and cut into portions to serve.
- Don’t overheat the butter mixture – as soon as the butter melts and the sugar has dissolved, remove it from the heat.
- This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool spot for up to 3 days.
Prep 45mis (+1 hour 30mins chilling time)Makes about 500g
Also known as mille feuilles (meaning a ‘thousand layers’) in French, you’ll find that most commercial-made puff pastries use margarine and other vegetable fats, and because they have a higher melting point than butter they make the pastry rise more spectacularly. However, the flavour of a home-made version using good-quality unsalted butter you’ll find far outweighs this.
- 200g unsalted butter, in one piece, softened slightly so it is firm but pliable
- Plain our, to dust
- 225g (1½ cups) plain flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 25g chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 100ml-120ml chilled water
- To make the dough, combine the our and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the 25g diced butter to the our. With your palms facing upwards, use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle 100ml of the iced water over the our mixture. Use a round-ended knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly combined and the mixture starts holding together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers – if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water; if it doesn’t add a teaspoon of the remaining iced water at a time water and cut through again until it does. The pastry should be soft but not sticky, and will be ragged in texture.
- Bring the pastry together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured, cool bench top. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 20 seconds or until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth.
- Shape the dough into a rectangle, about 10cm x 15cm, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest and rm slightly.
- Place the 200g piece butter between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to pound and then roll to form a square, 15cm x 15cm and about 1cm thick. Check that the butter is the same pliable consistency as the dough – if it looks oily, it is too soft and needs chilling for a little while for it to reach the same consistency.
- Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough on a lightly floured bench top to a rectangle about 20cm x 32cm, always rolling away from you, turning after each roll, and keeping the edges as straight as possible. Place the butter over the top half of the pastry, leaving a border of about 2.5cm. Fold the pastry edges up and over the butter, then fold the uncovered pastry over the butter to fully enclose.
- Use the rolling pin to gently tap the pastry widthways to form neat ridges. Roll out the pastry to a neat rectangle, about 16cm x 36cm, always rolling away from you and giving a half turn after each roll. Take care to keep the sides and ends straight, using a large palette knife to straighten them if necessary.
- Fold the bottom third of the pastry up, then the top third of the pastry down to fold it like a business letter. Turn the pastry anti-clockwise 90 degrees so that the folded edge is to your left. Use the rolling pin to gently tap the pastry widthways to form neat ridges again.
- Roll the pastry out again a neat rectangle, about 13cm x 36cm, always rolling away from you, giving a half turn after each roll and taking care to keep the edges straight. With the folded edge to your left, repeat the folding process (step 8) but do not tap to create the ridges. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
- Repeat this process (steps 7-9; rolling, folding and turning, then rolling and folding again) two more times making sure the folded edge is to your left every time you fold and chilling between each process. This will give a total of six rolls and folds.
- Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 days before using as directed.
- To freeze, roll the puff pastry into a at sheet about 8mm thick. Cut into smaller portions or freeze whole on a tray lined with baking paper. Once frozen, wrap well in plastic wrap and then seal in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.Thaw in the fridge.
Prep 40min (+1hr cooling time and 2hr standing time)Bake 30minMakes 10-12 serves
Possibly the most famous cake in the world, and certainly the pride of Austria, Sacher Torte was created by Franz Sacher, a 16-year-old apprentice stepping in for an ill head chef, to impress the guests of Prince Wenzel von Metternich. And as they say, the rest is now cuisine history. This elegant, rich and enticing cake is now loved the world over.
Melted butter, to grease
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g (1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1½ tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
6 eggs, at room temperature, separated
175g good-quality dark chocolate (54% cocoa), chopped, melted and cooled to room temperature
110g (¾ cup) plain flour
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
85g (¼ cup) apricot jam, warmed and sieved
40g good-quality milk chocolate, melted, to decorate
Thick or whipped cream, to serve
300g good-quality dark chocolate (54% cocoa)
60g butter, cubed
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush 2 x shallow 20 cm round cake tins with melted butter to grease and line the bases with rounds of non-stick baking paper.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat until well combined and creamy. Beat in the cooled melted chocolate until well combined. Use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in the flour until just combined.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites in a large clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar and whisk on medium-high speed until thick and glossy and all the sugar has dissolved (see Baker’s tip). Add half the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture and use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in to ‘loosen’ the mixture. Add the remaining egg white mixture and fold until just evenly combined.
Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Stand in the tins for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool (this will take about 1 hour).
Once cool, spread one cake layer with the warmed sieved jam and then top with the second layer, bottom side up. Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray and set aside while making the chocolate glaze.
To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir occasionally until just melted and combined. Use a plate knife to spread a little of the glaze over the outside of the cake to form a ‘crumb coat’ and to even the surface. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes or until set. Remove from the fridge and carefully pour over the rest of the glaze, allowing it to run down the sides of the cake to coat evenly. Tap the cake, still on the rack, gently on the tray to remove any air bubbles and to settle the glaze. Use a fork to drizzle the milk chocolate over the top of the cake to decorate. Set aside for 2 hours or until the glaze sets. Serve cut into small wedges with cream.
• To test if all the sugar has dissolved, rub a little of the egg white and sugar between two fingers – you will be able to feel if there is still undissolved sugar. Whisk for another minute if not completely dissolved before testing again.
• This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
This recipe is from Anneka's SBS Food online column, Bakeproof: Austrian Baking.
CLICK HERE for more Bakeproof columns and recipes.
Photography by Alan Benson.