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This is a shameless steal from my cousin Lucas Hollweg’s book Good Things to Eat, a collection of quietly ravishing recipes and stories with beautiful photos of real food, made with love, and that (as we say in the West Country).

This cake has been variously called “boss” (as in “this cake is boss”) “rad” (radical) “wowser” (in the absence of a suitable adjective) and “phenomenal.” Our recent German guests thought nothing of tucking into this first thing despite Joe’s concern that, according to his understanding, “Germans don’t like sweet.” But they do and besides, this is not sugar-sweet, but rather darkly fruity, earthy and voluptuous with the marmalade adding depth and spice. Basically, it’s the Eartha Kitt of chocolate cake.

IMG_6734Our English guests had it around mid morning with a cup of tea and then kept creaming off sections until it looked like this. It is both cake and mousse, with a rich-as-a-truffle interior and a seriousness that stops it feeling too indulgent. It’s not a “naughty” cake. It’s too volcanically strong and direct for that. This is my answer to all those American cupcakes I’ve sampled over the years that are the equivalent to eating sparkly Pollyfilla. If I’m going down, I’m taking a damp, tannic wedge of chocolate marmalade slump cake with me, and you can keep your red velvet sprinkled doodahs for another day.

As for chocolate, I used Valrhona Noir Amer, which has 71% cocoa solids in it. Too far over 70% and it starts to feel dry in the mouth; you want dark silk, not chalk. Green and Black’s Organic Dark 70% and Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate would be my other faves. Most recently, I used lime marmalade in the mixture and this came through well; clean, bright and sharp, it lifted the cloak of chocolate and gave it zip. The addition of bergamot and orange marmalade on another outing was lovely, too – warm and floral. I’ve also used a jar of shop-bought Seville orange marmalade and it was spankingly good, which goes to show: a good cake is a good cake regardless.

The ‘slump’ occurs right after removing it from the oven, and as well as being quite dramatic to watch, thankfully takes the cake far away from sponge territory. Lucas suggests cream as an accompaniment – I love crème fraîche here, with its clotted appearance and tang, and though sometimes its sourness can be bullying, this cake can take it.

Chocolate Marmalade Slump Cake

Lucas Hollweg, Good Things to Eat

I’m lifting this recipe ‘clean’ from the book, so ounces and grams will feature, and not cups. Apparently, professional bakers always measure by weight, not by volume (i.e. cup size), so a digital scale would probably be a wise purchase in the long run, if you’re on a serious baking jag.

 Makes a 23cm (9in) round cake

100g (3½oz) Seville orange marmalade, with lots of chunky peel

finely grated zest of 1 large orange

125g (4½oz) caster sugar

150g (5½oz) unsalted butter

150g (5½oz) good dark chocolate (60 – 70% cocoa solids), broken into bits

4 medium eggs, separated

a pinch of salt

50g (1¾oz) cocoa powder

icing sugar, for dusting

 “Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Line the bottom of a round, loose-bottomed 23cm (9in) tin with a circle of baking parchment, and cut a long strip about 4cm (1½in) wide to make a collar around the inside. Put the marmalade and zest in a food processor and blitz to a slush.  Add the sugar and whizz in. Put the butter into a small saucepan and melt over a gentle heat.  Remove from the hob and leave to stand for a couple of minutes, then throw in the chocolate, pushing it under so it’s just submerged. Leave to melt without stirring for about 3 minutes, then mix until smooth and glossy. Stir in the marmalade and orange zest slush and tip into a bowl.

 Beat the egg yolks vigorously into the chocolate mixture, then sift the cocoa powder over the top and beat that in as well. Put the whites in a clean metal mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and, using a scrupulously clean whisk, whip until they form soft peaks – they should flop over at the top when you lift the whisk. Beat a third of the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it a little, then carefully fold in the rest, scooping the chocolatey goo from the bottom of the bowl as you go, until it’s a uniform brown.

 Pour the mixture into the lined tin, smooth the top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the centre has risen to form a set and slightly undulating plateau. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 15 minutes, then carefully take it out of the tin on its base and peel the paper from around the sides (I deal with the paper on the bottom when I come to slice it). Leave to cool until just warm – about 30 minutes out of the oven – or room temperature. Just before serving, sift a bit of icing sugar over the top. Serve in slices with double cream, creme fraiche, ice cream or mascarpone.”

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