Midnight cake with store cupboard ingredients, easy as anything. Samin Nosrat’s revival of the old fashioned Betty Crocker black midnight chocolate cake.
Midnight cake or black midnight chocolate cake is an old, easy Betty Crocker recipe, one of those that make you go: ‘that’s all there is to it?’ Elementary store cupboard ingredients, no butter, no fancy chocolate melting in a bain-marie, mix wet into dry and bake – a bucket cake is what I call it. And the outcome is truly outstanding: dense and chocolatey, rich and wet (which is the word I’m campaigning to replace ‘moist’) and utterly sliceable, fillable, buttercreamable and frostable.
I’m not an expert on or a fan of Betty Crocker but thankfully this old, old recipe was revived by Samin Nosrat and to be found in her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book. As she rightly says, the choice of fat makes the difference here: oil creates denser texture than butter. That of course, the word obsessive that I am, makes me think why it isn’t called a midnight oil cake? Perhaps because the original Betty Crocker recipe used shortening and a lot of people still use that in their midnight cakes.
But I think about it as Samin’s cake, midnight oil and all. I’ve made it many times already: as a base for a birthday gateau, plain for breakfast, with vanilla cream as per Samin’s orders and with glace cherries in the mix. This time I reached into the back of the cupboard for a pointless bag of soft dried fruit: pears, apples, apricot peaches and prunes. Rather an explosive melange that I bought by accident thinking mistakenly it was a ready-chopped mix to throw in muesli or granola.
It needs to be chopped but does it make a glorious topping! Just by bringing it to the boil with a little extra sugar and lemon juice, then letting it cool down a bit you get a tangy, fruity topping which contrasts beautifully with the rich chocolatey base. Simply gorgeous.