Top slice




This can be grandly wrapped in cellophane and a bit of red ribbon and presented as a most edible gift - the cake stand will be a more enduring present.

275g unsalted butter
125ml strong coffee
275g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
110g self-raising flour
110g plain flour
a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
225g dark brown sugar
225g light brown sugar
30g cocoa powder
100ml buttermilk
4 medium-sized eggs, beaten
For the icing
425ml double cream
1½ tsp light brown sugar
350g dark chocolate (53 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees/gas two. Have ready a 20x10cm round cake tin lined with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, coffee and chocolate together in a bowl over barely simmering water. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the melted butter and chocolate mix and finally the buttermilk and eggs. Pour into the lined tin and bake for an hour and three-quarters to two hours. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Combine the cream with the sugar and bring to the boil then let it cool to room temperature before gently combining with the chocolate.

Ice the cake with the help of a palette knife. To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread two-thirds of the icing over the bottom half, and cover with the top half of the cake. Spread the remaining icing over the sides first and then over the top.

Recipe and photograph from Tea Time, a new Avoca series of booklets edited by Hugo Arnold, published by Avoca Ltd, €8.95