Food For Thought – Chocolate Cake Recipe

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One bite at a time, says Vanessa. We can change the world one bite at a time. FOREWORD BY Sheila Dillon

This quote, the beginnings of the forward by Sheila Dillon, rang through my mind time and time again after I read it. As Sheila goes on to say, we’ve heard it all before.

But we can all change the world one bite at a time, by using one Fair-trade ingredient, one British made/produce product, ugly looking Fruit and Veg so often discarded. We can change the world one bite at a time.

I’ve recently started making my own Sourdough Bread. All it contains is Water, Flour and Salt. Three ingredients. Like a little creature, the Sourdough starter lives in an opened jar in my kitchen.  It breaths and grows using the Yeast contained in the air around it. I never close the lid. It needs the air and the wild yeast floating around in my house.

I make, I bake, we eat, I feed. Thus my Sourdough starter continues to grow and feed my family. I would be filled with sorrow if it were to die.

Thanks to Vanessa and Kyle Books, I was send the recipe ( tab to bottom of the page) for ‘A Very Ethical and Extremely Delicious Chocolate Cake’. I used Ndali Vanilla extract ( see competition below to win a bottle) in place of the Vanilla Powder – a product I’ve used many times before in my baking and included the required tablespoons of my sourdough starter.


It baked beautifully and tasted divine. The end result ( see my images) is exactly the same as the recipe. Proof, not that it’s needed, that the recipe works

One of the instructions from Vanessa was not to overbake, and I can see why. I took it out of the oven after the required baking time, still slightly squidgy in the centre using my cake tester. And as it cooled it set beautifully. I also think it helped to cover the first half of the baking time with foil as Vanessa suggested.

If you love cake and love chocolate you will love this recipe. Surprisingly easy to make, not too sweet in taste which I think is helped in part by adding the Sourdough starter. Give it a try. We had double helpings for tea and I have to say, for lunch today too.

Many thanks to Vanessa Kimbell and Kyle Books for sending me the Book PDF’s and for allowing me to share this recipe with you.

Mantra for today: Chocolate makes you feel good. Repeat.

Cake Talk: Changing the world one bite at a time Join the Forum 

Competition: A chance to win a bottle of Ndali Vanilla Extract.  Enter Now

Find out more about Sourdough Bread making and courses at Vanessa’s Sourdough School 


‘ A Very Ethical and Extremely Delicious Chocolate Cake’

  • SERVES »10–12
  • 100g dark chocolate (approx. 85 per cent cocoa solids)
  • 250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 125 caster sugar
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 175g plain flour (I like to use a heritage grain such as Rivet, Einkorn or Emmer), plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 3 tablespoons unrefreshed 1-week-old  sourdough starter (see page 41 and page 192) or rapeseed oil
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 50g dark chocolate (approx. 70 per cent cocoa solids)


Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Grease and flour a 23cm round cake tin.

Break the dark chocolate into pieces and melt it gently in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, then leave to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, caster and muscovado sugars together. Stir in the melted chocolate, making sure it’s not too hot or it will melt the butter. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together and add them to the mixture.

Beat with an electric hand-held mixer on full power for about 5 minutes, mixing the sourdough starter or oil in completely just before you finish, and transfer to the prepared baking tin. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 25–30 minutes. This long, slow, gentle bake ensures that the cake does not burn and almost ‘sets’. Please don’t overbake it.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin. To serve, melt the white chocolate and dark chocolate separately, in heatproof bowls over a pan of simmering water. Do not allow the water to touch the base of the bowl, but let the steam warm the base and stir gently until the chocolate is melted. Drizzle the melted chocolate in a zigzag pattern over the cake and serve.


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