Another year, another gateau

(Devil’s Food Cake)

Another year, another gateau. Baked, iced and ceremoniously divided into thick slabs. We forked it over cups of tea, sitting next to a gas heater set on high. I couldn’t help but smile that chocolate-stained smile that always makes him shake his head and laugh.

Another year, another birthday. While swilling a glass of red over dinner with friends, he declared, “I don’t feel any older”.

Well, what a relief, I thought. Because, I secretly do. And with every passing year, that creeping fear that I’m no closer to realising where I want to be or what I want to be doing.

But I do love birthdays, if not mine. So with wine, and a 10-course meal (with a friend who cheekily wants to tell the waiter that she’s allergic to micro herbs), and later bundled with giggles and wobbly heels into a cab, I’m happy we’re all a year older. Or is that a year younger?

When it comes to birthdays, the devil is never in the detail.

(Happy Birthday B!)

Devil’s Food Cake :
(adapted from a recipe in Baker & Spice by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington)

150g 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
100g caster sugar
125ml milk
40g cocoa powder
3 eggs separated + 1 egg yolk
160g unsalted butter, softened
85g brown sugar
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
170g plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 170’C. Butter and line two 23cm springform cake tins.

Put the chocolate, caster sugar, milk, cocoa powder and 2 egg yolks in a bowl set over simmering water. Stir until chocolate has just melted, then remove from heat and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining 2 egg yolks, then the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Fold in the chocolate mixture followed by the yogurt. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm and fold this through the cake mixture.

Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and lightly smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to completely cool before icing.

For the icing :

200g 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
25g cocoa powder
80ml hot water
1 tablespoon golden syrup
45g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, golden syrup and water. Add this to the melted chocolate and whisk until combined. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, icing sugar and egg yolk. You can add more icing sugar than the recommended amount if you wish. Chill this mixture until it is thick and spreadable.

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  1. Caitlin said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 12:26 am

    Happy birthday, B! Maybe someday, we’ll get out to visit you two too πŸ™‚

    (And seriously? You look and act, like, 12. Which is totally a good thing.)

  2. Alex G said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 12:32 am

    Happy birthday! As I hit 30 a year and a half ago, I am increasingly starting to ignore mine… but I still accept cake! What’s better for drowning those “getting older” woes than chocolate?

  3. Rosa said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 12:42 am

    A lovely cake! Perfect with a good cup of strong coffee.



  4. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 12:44 am

    Mmm lovely and happy birfday!

  5. Jenn Brigole said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 1:49 am

    Happy birthday! πŸ™‚ But, yeah. I secretly feel the same thing too when my birthday’s coming up. I just try to drown it with food and drinks all night though and by tomorrow, it’s not “the” day anymore. lol

  6. Emma said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 1:57 am

    I’ve got brown sugar on my mind today. And paired with yogurt – good ingredients for a great cake! Looks delicious, even if the occasion feels bittersweet.

  7. Jessica said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    This sounds great! I recently got some Himalayan pink salt from Sustainable Sourcing and I’ll have to try it out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  8. said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    Happy birthday! I giggled at the story! Sound like something my best friend and I might do. πŸ˜›

  9. Julia @ MΓ©langer said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    A reminder I have a nasty milestone birthday coming up next year. But that would be made all the more sweeter by a delicious cake like this. Or a holiday overseas. πŸ˜‰

  10. Helene said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    Happy Birthday! Mine is coming and I’m making a Chocolate cake also.

  11. Hannah said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    Teehee, love your friend’s cheekiness! I’d have to tell the waiter I was allergic to foams πŸ˜‰ I’m glad this birthday was fun for all involved – mine was a few weeks’ back and I spent the day at a forum called “let’s chat about dying” and then went home alone to an empty house. Now THAT was the perfect fuel for an existential birthday crisis!

    I wish someone had made me this cake… πŸ˜€

  12. shaz said,

    June 14, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

    Awww, happy birthday B! Age is all relative though Y. When I go to a 8 yr old’s birthday party I feel ancient, but when I’m at a 90 year old’s do, I feel like a spring chicken. Just hang around with older people more often πŸ™‚

  13. kitchenvoyage said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 3:17 am

    Happybirthday and i just finish my first slice, was very very great! Here a photo of my attempt i failed a bit with the icing and was a bit liquid πŸ™

  14. InTolerantChef said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 8:52 am

    What a rich cake, Yumm! I don’t think you can be all that old if you can polish off a 10 course meal AND cake, and negotiate footpaths in high heels while a bit ‘giggly’. I think you still have a long way to go!

  15. Rohan said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    If only I could bake! That looks divine!

  16. Amanda said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

    Happy birthday to B! I also prefer other people’s birthdays (partly because I get to make the cakes). I realised the other day that in a few short years it will be TWENTY YEARS since I left high school. I actually don’t know how that is possible…

    Thank you for your beautiful blog posts, as always.

  17. LimeCake said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

    Cake is always de rigeur with birthdays – synonymous, almost. This looks like a beautiful devil’s food. Plus, chocolate always seems to please!

  18. betty said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    happy belated bday! xx

  19. Laura said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

    Y, it is the road that brings you there that is important, not the final destination, that is that I tell myself at least. I am sure you are aquiring lots of experience that will help you in whatever ends up to be what you do when you “grow up”. I haven’t found my final destination yet, but I will get there.

  20. Dolly said,

    June 15, 2011 @ 9:26 pm


    chocolate!!!!!!! definitely devils!!

  21. GourmetGetaways said,

    June 19, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    Happy Birthday!!!

    I am with you on not feeling any older, I have to remind myself that the numbers are getting bigger.

  22. penny aka jeroxie said,

    June 19, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    Happy Birthday! xoxo

  23. JasmyneTea said,

    June 19, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    I’m turning 21 in a couple of weeks and I’m already feeling that way, like I should have an idea of where I’m headed already. It’s nerve wracking!
    Your devil’s food cake looks amazing, and a very happy birthday to B! πŸ™‚

  24. apaler1 said,

    June 21, 2011 @ 2:31 am

    A very happy birthday! Like you, I love celebrating birthdays. It’s the one day of the year for someone to accept that it’s more than okay to celebrate themselves without feeling embarrassed about it. And any excuse to have a great time with close friends is something enjoyable.

    I appreciate how you transitioned from birthdays to the devil’s food cake. You’re a literary maven! And the cake looks so luscious, too.

  25. grace said,

    June 21, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    nice dessert, y! i’m of the opinion that my own birthday should be unceremonious and that that unceremoniousness (is that a word?!?!) should be made up for in my celebration of other people’s birthdays! πŸ™‚

  26. Hannah said,

    June 22, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

    It’s true, birthdays are always better when they aren’t our own… But a cake like this would surely soften the blow. Looks exactly like the chocolate layer cake I’ve been craving for days now! Ah, as if I need more temptation to run to my cake pans and measuring spoons…

  27. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said,

    June 27, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    I’m a firm believer that if it’s not chocolate it’s not a ‘real’ birthday cake. This one definitely looks like it would do the job though! And don’t worry — I still ponder on what age I need to be to stop thinking in terms of ‘when I’m all grown up’.

  28. the caked crusader said,

    June 27, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    Gorgeous cake! I know what you mean about birthdays – time rushes by and I don’t always feel I have enough to show for it!

  29. Elina (Healthy and Sane) said,

    July 1, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

    Hehe, I love my birthday but only for that one day because I’m just focused on feeling special with gifts, emails, texts, calls, etc. But then I am a year older and well, I guess that’s just what happens πŸ™‚

  30. urbanvegan said,

    July 13, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

    Happy belated. Gorgeous photos on your blog!

  31. Daryl George said,

    July 15, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

    Oh that guilty and sinful pleasure! But who doesn’t love chocolates, right? And by the way, I have a secret: I like birthdays, too except mine! Hahaha. I just don’t want some sort of reminder that I’m not getting any younger – but hey, if there’s this mouth watering gateau? I’ll celebrate my birthday everyday!

    Keep ’em coming! πŸ™‚

  32. thelittleloaf said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

    Looks like the perfect birthday cake. Yoghurt always makes the crumb that little bit moister and you can’t go wrong with a Dan Lepard recipe. Beautiful post as always, and happy birthday!

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