Choco­late & Cherry Loaf

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SERVES 12 PREP 25 min­utes + 15 min­utes to chill + cool­ing COOK 45 min­utes

3 cups plain flour

½ cup co­coa pow­der

2 tea­spoons bi­car­bon­ate of soda 1 tea­spoon ta­ble salt

2 cups caster su­gar

2 cups cold wa­ter

2/3 cup veg­etable or sun­flower oil 2 ta­ble­spoons white vine­gar 2 tea­spoons vanilla essence

1 cup cream, at room tem­per­a­ture 200g dark eat­ing choco­late,

finely chopped

1 quan­tity Cherry Cream (recipe, be­low) 100g cher­ries, to serve (op­tional)

Pre­heat oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan-forced. Grease and line two 21cm x 11cm (base mea­sure­ment) loaf pans with bak­ing pa­per, ex­tend­ing pa­per at long sides for han­dles.

Sift flour, co­coa pow­der, bi­car­bon­ate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in su­gar. Make a well at cen­tre. Whisk the wa­ter, oil, vine­gar and essence in a jug. Add to flour mix­ture; mix well. Spoon into pre­pared pans; level sur­faces. Bake for 45 min­utes or un­til a skewer in­serted at cen­tres comes out clean. Cool in pans.

Mean­while, to make ganache, com­bine the cream and choco­late in a large mi­crowave-safe jug. Mi­crowave on High (100%) in 30-sec­ond bursts, stir­ring be­tween each, un­til smooth. Chill, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 15 min­utes or un­til cold.

Place one cake on a serving plat­ter, Top with Cherry Cream, then re­main­ing cake. Spread ganache over the top. Serve with cher­ries (if us­ing).

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