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Midnight cake with fruit salad topping

Mon, 13 April, 2020

Midnight cake with store cupboard ingredients, easy as anything. Samin Nosrat’s revival of the old fashioned Betty Crocker black midnight chocolate cake.

samin nosrats chocolate midnight 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.

midnight cake with dried fruit topping

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.

chocolate midnight cake samin nosrat

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.

samins midnight oil cake with dried fruit mix topping

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.

Midnight cake with fruit salad topping

Servings: 12-14Time: 1 hour


  • For the cake:
  • 255g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 55g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 300g (1½ cup) sugar
  • 125ml (½ cup) groundnut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 350ml (1½ cup) boiling water
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • For the topping:
  • 200g mixed dried soft fruit (apricots, apples, peaches, prunes, pears)
  • 3 tbsp. caster sugar
  • juice squeezed from 1 lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and flour a 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin.

2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and sugar together into a large bowl; stir thoroughly to break any lumps.
In a smaller bowl stir together the oil, vanilla and boiling water.

3. Gradually whisk the oil mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth. Whisk in the eggs; the batter will be very runny.

mixing midnight cake

4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, tap the tin against the worktop to remove air bubbles and transfer to the oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin.

midnight cake

5. While the cake is cooling, make the topping: chop the dried fruit roughly and place in a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and cook stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Leave to cool a little.

fruit topping

6. When the cake is cool, spoon the topping over the top evenly. Leave it to set, then remove the cake from the tin.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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