This rich, moreish chocolate cake is ideal for dinner parties, a picnic or afternoon tea, and is gluten free.

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When I bought this into the Country Life office recently, the Editor declared it to be the best chocolate cake he had ever tasted. The recipe is a Hughes family favourite, and I have happy memories of making it with my mother on sunny Saturday afternoons. It’s very portable and works as well eaten on a rug beside the river as it does at a dinner party.

It couldn’t be simpler to make – the trick is to use the best quality chocolate you can find and cream the butter and sugar together enthusiastically so the texture is even throughout. The addition of almonds and almond essence gives it a wonderfully grown-up flavour, and make it suitable for coeliacs or those with a wheat intolerance.

 

Ingredients – for a 10 inch cake tin
300g/10oz golden caster sugar
300g/10oz softened unsalted butter
300g/10oz dark chocolate (again, I’m going to recommend Menier 70% Chocolat Patissier), melted over a bain marie and allowed to cool a little
300g/10oz ground almonds
5 large eggs, beaten
A dash of almond essence

Method
Grease your tin and line the bottom and sides with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (160 if you’re using a fan oven)

Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly until pale and fluffy – I use a blender for this bit.

Pour in the cooled melted chocolate, and if you’re using a blender, give the mixture another couple of pulses before decanting it into a clean bowl.

Gradually whisk in the beaten eggs (an electric hand-whisk is best for this), and add a few tablespoons of ground almonds towards the end to prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the remaining ground almonds, and add the almond essence.

Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it – you don’t want the top to burn, and you need to make sure it remains squidgy.

Leave to cool slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack. Before serving, dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder, and accompany with mixed berries and crème fraiche (or, if you’re feeling decadent, vanilla ice cream).