A delicious chocolate cake is a beautiful thing. Moist, decadent and not too sweet—so that you can devour the whole slice and maybe even a little more.
In her new book Sugar, I Love You: Knockout Recipes to Celebrate the Sweeter Things in Life, British pastry chef Ravneet Gill writes about her life in sweetness, with anecdotes about life and lessons learned both inside and out of the kitchen. The recipe she’s most excited about (and speaks to my soul as a budding home baker) is the LPC, also known as the Lazy Person’s Cake.
“I love chocolate cake; I actually have one in the fridge at the moment that I’ll be having a piece of very soon,” Ravneet told me when we spoke on the publication day of her book. “One of my favorite things to do, especially during lockdown, is to have a piece of chocolate cake as a 10-minute break while sitting in front of the TV. I warm it up so that all of the ganaches melt, pour some double cream over it, and just sit and eat it.”
The LPC took dozens of attempts to perfect (Ravneet estimates about 50 to 60), which has resulted in a rich, chocolatey cake that’s a touch salty and not too sickly sweet. “I wanted to design something that people could knock out really quickly and if they had to take it to a party they could because it looks impressive but in reality it’s really easy to make,” she said.
While developing this recipe, Ravneet got together with some fellow pastry chefs and shared what, to each of them, was their favorite chocolate cake. They conducted tests in which they changed the acidity of batters using different dairy products, adjusted fat content, tried different types of cocoa powder and flour, and so much more, testing until everyone was pretty sick of eating chocolate cake; all in the name of science and delicious dessert.
Ravneet has graciously shared the recipe for the LPC below, which gives you a taste of the delicious (but not too sweet) desserts that fill the pages of Sugar, I Love You. Beyond cake, there are also chapters for biscuits (what we call cookies in the United States), cheesecake, tarts and pies, and entremets.
Excerpt from Sugar, I Love You: Knockout Recipes to Celebrate the Sweeter Things in Life by Ravneet Gill (Pavilion Books)
For your eating pleasure, I spent weeks testing different variations of chocolate cake. I knew what I wanted: something wonderfully moist, a touch bitter, light, quick-to-make and beautiful. The perfect lazy person’s cake. It had to be a gleaming beauty that looked like you’d spent forever on it, when in reality it involved very little effort. We make this cake for people we care about, but don’t have much time for. Fringe friends, you might say.
LPC (Lazy Person’s Cake)
Makes a 20-centimeter (8-inch) cake
For the wet cake mix
175 ml olive oil, not overly strong, plus extra for the tins
175 ml buttermilk
170 ml boiling water
5 g /1 tsp instant coffee
For the dry cake mix
125 g caster sugar
125 g light brown sugar
80 g cocoa powder
230 g plain flour
5 g / 1 tsp sea salt flakes
10 g / 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
5 g / 1 tsp baking powder
For the malt chocolate ganache
150 g 70% cocoa solids chocolate, chopped
50 g 55% cocoa solids chocolate, chopped
pinch of sea salt flakes
300 g double cream
1 Tbsp malt extract (alternatively use black treacle, maple syrup or honey)
I want to blaze through this recipe as quick as you, so here we go!
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/gas mark 4. Grease two 20-centimeter (8-inch) cake tins with oil, then line with baking paper.
Weigh all the dry cake mix ingredients into a large bowl and stir together with a whisk to fully combine. (If the sugar is lumpy, you will have to sift it.)
Weigh all the wet cake mix ingredients, except the water and coffee, into a large bowl and whisk together. Make the coffee in a cup with the measured boiling water and instant coffee, pour it into the wet ingredients bowl and stir well.
Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir well with a whisk to combine.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins (if you want to be precise, you can weigh the total batter, then divide it exactly in half).
Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before flipping onto a wire rack (allow to cool fully before adding the ganache you’re about to make).
To make the ganache, put both the chocolates and the salt in a large heatproof bowl.
In a saucepan, heat the cream with the malt extract until steaming but not boiling.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave for 1 minute. Use a whisk to stir the ganache from the middle outwards – so as not to whisk in any air – until silky and beautiful. Let the ganache sit for 10 minutes.
Take a large plate with a lip. Place a cooled cake on the plate and spoon over enough ganache to cover the top. Don’t worry if it spills over the edges, we kind of want this. Place the next cake on top. Pour the remaining ganache all over the top, without a care in the world.
Use a spoon to guide it over, making sure plenty of ganache is falling down the sides. Put the cake in the fridge for 20–30 minutes.
Remove the cake from the fridge and, using a small offset palette knife, scoop up the set ganache from the edges of the plate and spread over the sides to create a smooth finish. It really is that easy and effortless.
You’ll have your friends thinking you really care…
This cake keeps best in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. If storing in the fridge, allow to come to room temp before eating – it’ll be much nicer! I recommend warming up a slice in the microwave for 20 seconds and pouring cold cream all over it.