Sunday, 5 February 2012

Baking challenge #1 - Mary Berry's Death by chocolate

Mary Berry's death by chocolate cake- as baked by EJ. Decorated with shavings of white chocolate and posh pearls

Ok, so last week I decided on my baking challenge for 2012- to bake all of the recipes in Mary Berry's Baking Bible which don't have photos. The problem with choosing a recipe with no photos is that the decision making takes much longer, sometimes that recipe title just isn't enough of a pull... I have to read all of the ingredients and the method to determine if it's something I want to bake. To cut a long story short, there's a lot more imagination involved.

After debating for a while over various recipes I ended up choosing the one with the most exciting name- death by chocolate conjures images of the most extreme chocolate cake ever. Surely a death by chocolate cake makes you feel like you're going to have a heart attack just by looking at it? If only the book had a photo I would know.... so I set out on my first challenge.

This was an interesting process, without an image I scrutinised the recipe more before starting. Mary Berry uses cocoa powder for her sponge (oh Mary Berry! How could you?), as a self confessed chocolate snob I tend to use high quality melted chocolate and never cocoa powder when I'm baking.... surely this yields better results than cocoa powder? For the sake of this challenge, if cocoa powder is good enough for the Berry, it's good enough for me.

The only thing I did deviate from is Mary Berry's advice about the best chocolate to cook with (real chocolate was used in the icing), Berry advises "plain chocolate with 39% cocoa solids" for baking. In my experience, chocolate with such a low cocoa content and no milk contains a ludicrously huge amount of sugar, detracting from the chocolatey flavour which can sometimes be a bit sickly, so I have to confess, I used a standard 70% dark chocolate for this one. Otherwise- all ingredients and methods were followed as the page dictated.

As far as the baking process goes, the recipe was ace and super easy to follow. The sponge was the perfect texture and the icing was beautiful and shiny and set well. The only mis-hap was my discovery that my oven is actually a few degrees hotter than it claims to be, so the cakes domed and cracked slightly. I didn't trim them before layering, so the final result looks kind of beehive like..... probably not Mary Berry's vision, but in fairness, I can't blame the recipe for my dodgy oven.

The cake looked awesome sliced open- 4 layers of sponge glued together with rich chocolate icing....mmmmm

I took the beehive-like death by chocolate over to yummy mummy Ashley, toddler George and dad Mark for testing. We all enjoyed the cake- and the rich icing contrasted well with the fluffy sponge which was really lovely. The cake looked awesome when sliced open- with the 4 layers of sponge glued together with chocolate. Unfortunately I'm not sure the cake conformed to my death by chocolate pre-conceptions, don't get me wrong, it was a truly delightful cake, but was in no way extreme. It really got me thinking about what death by chocolate really means.....I can feel the recipe-development cogs turning in my brain, stay tuned for EJ's take on death by chocolate, coming soon.....


  1. ...and what a tasty cake it is. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Mark! I will bring cake again next time...