On Friday it was my friend Julian’s birthday, and so, of course, I made him a birthday cake. Black-bottom cupcakes (from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook) are one of the recipes on my list, but I decided it wouldn’t be that much different if I just made it as one cake instead of 12 tiny ones. It tasted really good, but the distribution of the two different layers didn’t work quite as well as I’d imagine it would in cupcake form – there seemed to be a LOT more chocolate than cheesecake. Anyway, it turned out pretty good, despite my oven’s bizarre quirks – if you’ve used it earlier, and then turn it off, if it hasn’t cooled down completely before you switch it back on, then it just switches itself off again until it’s cooled. Which, as you can imagine is really useful. Anyway, the result was that the cake took twice as long to cook because of this, and ended up slightly overdone because I was watching Clueless…shhh.
One of the happiest achievements of this cake was that the cream cheese icing turned out okay! I can’t remember if I mentioned my recent terrible failings with cream cheese icing, but basically I made it a few times recently (after having made it many, many times before and it turning out fine) and it would just curdle or be really lumpy or too liquidy, and I thought “damn you cream cheese icing, NEVER AGAIN!”. Until I realised there was a recipe on my list with it on. But now, I’m back on the cream cheese saddle, and it’s pretty good.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the recipe:
190g plain flour
120g caster sugar
40g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
40ml sunflower oil
1½ tsp white vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
140g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
100g milk chocolate chips
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
125g cold cream cheese
**note: as is the case with all Hummingbird icing, the quantities given are overly generous – half of these quantities was enough for me to ice the top of the cake, and I’ve always found that 3/4 is enough to do 12 cupcakes, unless you like way more icing than cake.
Hummingbird like to tell you to do everything with an electric mixer, which I don’t have, so just for the record, it’s not that hard to do it by hand. Yeah, I’m old fashioned.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. For the chocolate sponge base put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix with a handheld electric whisk on slow speed until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.
- Put the oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and 125 ml water in a jug and whisk to combine (you might need a bit more water to combine everything properly). While the electric whisk is running in the flour bowl, slowly add the contents of the jug, increasing the speed of the blender as the mixture thickens. Continue to beat until all the ingredients are incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
- Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and set aside.
- For the cheesecake filling beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and salt in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Stir in the chocolate chips by hand until evenly dispersed. Don’t overmix, otherwise the cream cheese will start to split.
- Scoop about 1 tbsp of the cheesecake filling on top of the cupcake mixture and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are firm to the touch and they have an even golden colour on the cheesecake filling. Don’t overcook as the cheesecake will become very dry and crumbly.
- Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- For the cream cheese frosting beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
- When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese icing on top, if using, and decorate with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder.
(Sadly I only have uninspiring photos of this cake before it was iced, because I forgot to take any afterwards because I was watching Bridesmaids/drinking beer/generally celebrating Julian’s age)
Next week: Peanut Butter Cookies