I’m surrounded by cake shops – first-world problem, I know – with some of the city’s most famous fancy bakeries within walking distance of my front door. Yet even with the most over-articulated cupcakes, doughnuts pretending to be croissants, acres of fluffy Japanese cheesecake and row after row of rainbow-hued macarons at my disposal, I choose to bake at home. I like my cakes plain, undecorated and with the confident simplicity that only domestic baking can deliver.
This cake is one for fans of the bittersweet end of the spectrum. It looks innocent enough, but that dark brown loaf is a battleground that upends the learned thinking that chocolate is inherently sweet. While there is sugar here, it’s not enough to overwhelm the chocolate. The result tastes like a victory for the grown-up palette.
I’m more than happy to slice off a slab of this cake at any time of day (including, I have to confess, as part of a shockingly unbalanced breakfast). It makes a fine dessert with a spoonful of softly whipped, vanilla-spiked cream and a glass of vin santo within reach.
Bittersweet chocolate loaf cake
100g (4 oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
75g (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
100g (½ cup) icing sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
3 eggs, separated
125g (1 cup) flour
Melt the chocolate in the microwave. (In mine, it takes 2 minutes on half power). Set aside to cool slightly.
Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add heaping spoonfuls of the icing sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a separate mixing bowl. Beat the yolks, one at a time, into the butter-sugar mixture. Mix in the melted chocolate and the salt.
In their separate bowl, whisk the whites until firm but not stiff. Beat a large spoonful of the whites into the batter to slacken the mixture, then gently fold in spoonfuls of the remaining whites, alternating with big spoonfuls of flour, until all is combined.
Bake for 50 minutes. Let the cake rest in its tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.