the ultimate chocolate cake recipe by Lottie Bedlow from GBBO 2020
Recipes

Great British Bake Off's Lottie Bedlow tutorial for how to make the ultimate, showstopper chocolate cake

Yet to find for your perfect celebration cake recipe? This decadent chocolate cake by Great British Bake Off 2020 contestant Lottie Bedlow is a show-stopping masterpiece that, although a little fiddly to make, can be tackled by bakers of any level. 

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Whether it’s with a treasured family recipe, a last-minute supermarket celebration cake or the beloved Colin the Caterpillar, many of us have treasured memories of eating chocolate cake. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and an indulgent one at that, for the perfect recipe that is one that lots of us have been on.

Enter, Great British Bake Off 2020 contestant Lottie Bedlow. She has created a chocolate cake recipe that promises “a proper Bruce Bogtrotter moment”, in her own words. And she’s share it with the Curiosity Academy along with a helpful guide to make sure your chocolatey creation turns out perfect every time. 

Lottie explains that she wouldn’t class a cake as a chocolate cake unless it contains real chocolate. “We all have so many rubbish chocolate cakes growing up at kids’ parties so it’s very easy to have a distinctly average one,” she says. “We’ve all had a lot of chocolate cake but I think very few of us have had a cake made of chocolate.”

Lottie’s recipe is a take on a Boston cream pie, as she knew she wanted to make a chocolate cake that incorporated custard. “It’s very loose, it’s very chocolatey,” she says. “But it’s definitely not a pretty looking cake and that’s why I think I’ve said that it’s my perfect chocolate cake because for me ‘perfect’ is about the flavour and not how it looks.”

It may look fairly intimidating as a recipe at first, because it incorporates so many different elements, but Lottie stresses that it’s very much beginner-friendly, so there’s no reason not to give it a go.

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Ingredients

For the sponge:

These are the ingredients for two sponges. You’re going to need four sponges in total, so make sure you have double the quantities to hand for when you repeat the sponge-making process later.

  • 350g unsalted butter, melted
  • 800g plain flour
  • 500g golden caster
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 100g high quality cocoa powder
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarb
  • 1tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 250ml corn oil
  • 2 shots of espresso 

For the custard filling:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 100g dark chocolate (minimum 54% cocoa solids)
  • 500ml full fat milk

For the icing:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 180g dark chocolate melted (minimum 54% cocoa solids)
  • 2tbsp chocolate liqueur 

For the ganache drip:

  • 100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 225 double cream
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter

Method

For the sponges:

(Again, this is the method for two sponges, but you’re going to need four in total, so you’ll have to repeat it for the two other sponges!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C, grease and line 2 8-inch sandwich tins
  2. Melt 175g of the butter and leave to cool
  3. In a bowl mix 400g plain flour, 250g golden caster sugar, 100g light brown soft sugar and sift in 50g cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarb, and 1/2 tsp salt. Use a hand whisk to ensure all is well combined and set aside
  4. In a small bowl, beat together 3 eggs, 150ml sour cream and 1tsp of vanilla bean paste until well combined and set aside
  5. In a large bowl, add the cooled melted butter, 125ml corn oil and 1 shot cold coffee and beat with an electric whisk. With the whisk still running, gradually add 300ml ice cold water until the mixture starts to emulsify
  6. Add the egg mixture to the bowl and beat again
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk again until just combined
  8. Divide evenly between the 2 tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, remove from the oven, leave to cool and repeat the process again to make 4 sponges in total

For the chocolate custard:

  1. Put the milk and chocolate in a saucepan on a low heat
  2. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to make a paste
  3. Once the milk is steaming and the chocolate is melted, pour a little into the egg mixture and beat quickly
  4. Repeat until half of the milk is in the bowl
  5. Return this mixture to the saucepan and stir until thickened 
  6. Pass through a sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool

For the icing:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together with an electric whisk and add the vanilla bean paste
  2. Melt the chocolate and allow to cool a little before adding to the mix and whisking again until combined
  3. Finally, add the liqueur and mix again

For the ganache

  1. In a saucepan melt the chocolate with cream, sugar and butter
  2. Once the chocolate is melted into the cream, set aside to cool.
  3.  The longer this left, the thicker it will become but can always be given a quick blast in the microwave to soften before dripping

And now to assemble your cake 

  1. Take 2 of the cooled sponges and stamp out a circle, either using a smaller tin or by eye, about the size of a saucer
  2. Take a whole sponge, top it with icing and sandwich one of the holed sponges on top
  3. Fill with custard and icing around the edge and top with the other whole sponge
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 again until you have all 4 sponges stacked, with a custard-filled one on top
  5. Crumble up the leftover sponge cut-outs and fill the hole on top of the custard with the crumbs
  6. Transfer the ganache to a squeezy bottle if possible, or a piping bag will do just as well - drip around the rim of the cake - it will set in about 30 mins, faster if you put it in the fridge
  7. Decorate with Maltesers, chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles - whatever you’d like!

Lottie’s top tips for making her ultimate chocolate cake

Don’t stress about making the custard

Custard is notoriously difficult to make from scratch but Lottie explains that it’s actually a really important skill to have as a baker as it can be the basis of lots of other dishes like ice cream and Creme Patissiere. “Take your time when you’re adding the hot milk,” she advises. “You just need to make sure the milk isn’t boiling - it should be around 43-45 degrees [celsius].”

Lottie adds that you need to continuously whisk the custard mixture. “Don’t walk away from it like I did or you’ll end up with chocolate scrambled eggs!”

Your sponge is supposed to be runny

Lottie takes inspiration from Nigella for this sponge recipe, adding oil and cold water to it, explaining that the emulsifying process makes the sponge really creamy. “It’s an incredibly wet batter so don’t panic - you’re literally pouring it in.”

Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to break the rules

Although Lottie recommends baking the sponge at 160C, she explains that everyone’s ovens are different, so it’s best to keep an eye on the sponge and adjust the heat/timings based on how it looks. “They’re such amazing ingredients that whatever comes back will taste amazing.”

Get creative when it comes to decorating

“I used Maltesers in mine to decorate it but you just use your favourite chocolate, any chocolate that you want to go in it,” Lottie says, explaining that the holes you cut for the custard is the perfect space for your favourite chocolate.

Embrace the mess

“This cake is certainly not one for slicing into perfect slices and serving up round the table,” Lottie says, explaining that you will need a knife and fork to eat it and it may not look exactly how you planned, but it will taste amazing.

Eat it quickly and on its own

Lottie recommends trying to eat this cake in a day, or maybe two because that will be when it’s at it’s best, making it a great option for parties and big groups. She explains that you don’t need to add cream because the custard already adds that texture - she describes it as “an all-encompassing chocolate mess” - but that it does pair well with fruit, “if you want to cut through it with some raspberries, you can’t go wrong with some fruit but otherwise it’s pretty much everything you need from a bake in one slice.”

For more baked goods recipes, head to Lottie’s Instagram page or Stylist.co.uk’s food section.

  • Lottie Bedlow

    Lottie Bedlow living room with cakes

    Lottie Bedlow was a contestant on the 2020 series of The Great British Bake Off where she reached star baker status and received the first Paul Hollywood handshake of the season. She now shares her recipes on her Instagram page, @lottiegotcake, where has over 194,000 followers.

Images: courtesy of Lottie Bedlow

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