• Yield: Serves 10-12

We have about 10 chocolate cakes in our repertoire, from Cynthia's Chocolate Cake made with cocoa and buttermilk, to the decadently rich Ballymaloe Chocolate Cake made with the very best chocolate money can buy, lots of ground almonds, and a silky chocolate frosting. But if I had to choose just one, it might have to be this recipe given to me by my sister Blathnaid Bergin. It is deliciously chocolatey, yet light and rich at the same time. You can serve it very simply with the chocolate ganache poured over the top or spruce it up for a birthday cake.

  • 10 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing 

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting 

  • 1 cup milk 

  • 3 oz dark chocolate (about 52 percent cocoa solids), chopped 

  • Pinch of salt 

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

  • 2 level teaspoons baking power 

  • 2 cups light brown sugar 

  • 3 organic eggs 

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

For the chocolate filling:

  • 7 oz dark chocolate (about 52 percent cocoa solids), chopped 

  • 17 tablespoons butter, softened 

  • 4 organic egg yolks 

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted 

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 5 oz dark chocolate (about 52 percent cocoa solids), chopped 

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 

To decorate:

  • Chocolate curls 

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar, to dust and may turn into chocolate butter. (Use as soon as possible, or it will become too stiff to spread.) 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with melted butter, dust with flour, and line the bottom of each one with a circle of wax paper.

To make the cake, put the milk and chopped chocolate into a saucepan and warm gently over low heat until the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking power into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract in another bowl and beat them into the creamed mixture a little at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the flour with each addition. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the remaining flour. Divide between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes have begun to shrink in slightly from the sides of the pan. Set aside to cool in their pans for a few minutes, and then turn them out carefully and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for at least 10 minutes at high speed, until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and confectioner's sugar and contine to beat vigorously for another 5 minutes. Once the butter mixture is thoroughly mixed, remove 2 tablespoons and stir it into the cooled, melted chocolate. Then slowly pour the melted chocolate down the side of the mixing bowl into the butter mixture and fold it in quickly and gently until fully combined and smooth.

Once the cakes are cold, you can start making the chocolate ganache. Put the chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the cream to boiling point, pour it over the chocolate, and stir until it melts; set aside to cool. Beat the cooled chocolate cream until it barely forms soft peaks, making sure not to overbeat it, or it will become too stiff to spread.

To assemble the cake, split the cakes in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife. Spread the chocolate filling onto each layer and sandwich the four layers together. Frost the cake with the chocolate ganache and decorate as you wish -- we like to use chocolate curls, dredging them in unsweetened cocoa and confectioner's sugar. 

From 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen © 2014 Kyle Books.