Thursday, 25 June 2020

Chocolate Midnight Cake

I've never baked as much in my life as during COVID.  Cakes mostly, but muffins, pies and tarts too.  I've been perusing a lot of cookbooks lately, and recently came across this book by Samin Nosrat - Salt Fat Acid Heat.  I really love this book!  It's full of food drawings (you can even buy a set of the artist's foodie handiwork), and lots of information about how cooking works.  

There are lots of recipes, of course, but also explanations of how and why things happen when you cook - things like Using Acid, or How to Salt, or What is Heat?  Very useful for a novice cook, I think.  She explains about Fat, and Rendering, and Fixing Emulsions, and about Using Recipes, amongst other things.  As Samin says: ' A good recipe can be invaluable, ... but no recipe is infallible.'  Never a truer word, I think ...  

just a wee bit of cream :-)

Serves 10-12:


50g. (1/2 cup) good-quality cocoa powder

300g. (1½ cups) caster sugar

1 tsp sea salt flakes

310g. (1¾ cups) plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp vanilla extract

120 mL (1/2 cup) flavourless oil (I used sunflower)

360 mL (1½ cups) boiling water, or strong coffee - I used 3 heaped teaspoons of strong, instant coffee powder with the boiling water

2 large eggs, lightly whisked

Chantilly cream:

500 mL (2 cups) whipping cream

1 heaped tbs icing sugar

1 healthy tsp vanilla extract

1 chocolate Flake bar for the top (optional)


Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F

Grease two 20cm./8 inch cake tins, then line the bottom with baking paper

Now grease the baking paper, tip some plain flour into each tin, making sure that the flour goes all around the tins

Tip out the excess flour, and leave the tins till needed - luckily for me, Mr P. always does the greasing :-)

Sift the cocoa, sugar, salt, flour and baking soda into a large mixing bowl

Grab a whisk, and now whisk these ingredients together well

Mix the vanilla and oil together in a medium bowl (or a Pyrex jug), then add the boiling water/coffee into this mixture

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and gradually stir  in the wet ingredients

Whisk in the eggs, till your batter is smooth - don't worry if it looks thin; it's meant to!

Put half the batter into each tin (Samin suggests dropping the tins onto the counter to get out any air bubbles, but I forgot)

Place the tins into the upper third of your oven for 25-30 minutes, till a skewer comes out clean, and the top of the cakes spring back to the touch

Cool them completely on a wire rack, take them out of the tins and pull off the paper

Put a thick layer of the cream that you have whipped with the vanilla and sugar into firm peaks, onto one layer of the cake

Whack on the second layer, (but gently!) and spread that glorious cream all over the top, and down the sides if you have enough

Sprinkle the Flake bar over the top, if using

Chill for a couple of hours before eating

Keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for several days


As the cookbook is American, I used Samin's U.S. amounts for the cake, but put them in grams and mLs for Aussie readers.  Does that make sense?  As in, a half cup for Aussies is 125 mL, but an American cup is smaller, so I used 120 mL, and so on ...

If your cakes end up slightly lopsided (like mine did), trim them a bit with a sharp knife before putting the cakes together

Don't know why it's called a Midnight cake, but as I used some black cocoa in the recipe, it did in fact turn into quite the Midnight cake

sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl

whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ones

whisk the eggs into the mixture

out of the oven after 30 minutes

level off the top if it's a wee bit crooked (that bit at the back looks like a spider!)

smother your cake with lots of Chantilly cream

ready to eat

yep, we hoed into it gleefully and with gusto

Princess Pia displaying her piece of cake before chowing down

a slightly grubby library copy :-) 


  1. I too have been baking a lot, more than I could eat..well, my waist tells me STOP, but my head just won't allow me LOL...your chocolate cake looks incredibly delicious and tempting with chantilly cream, Sherry.

    1. thanks angie. my waistline is really ... groaning:)

  2. Oh wow the picture is just mouth watering!

  3. I haven't read this book, but know several people who have. They all love it! This recipe certainly looks good. :-)

  4. Samin Nosrat is well-loved in the US, both for the cookbook and for her TV series. I read a library copy of the book, and also enjoyed seeing the series, especially the parts in her own home with her mother visiting and showing her recipes. If you find it available for streaming, it's well worth watching.

    Your cake looks beautiful!

    be well... mae at

    1. okay thanks Mae. Not sure if we can get that show here but then again we don't have netflix or cable or whatever you call it ... :)

  5. This cake looks amazing Sherry and perhaps this is the chocolate cake to beat all chocolate cakes, do you think? I don't have this cookbook, wonder of wonders, but I watched her series on TV, last year I think, and it was great, so inspiring, and full of useful information. I course I took some notes, but didn't get any actual recipes. I might just have to break a self imposed rule of not buying anymore recipe books and buy this one. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe. I am actually cooking for 11 people tomorrow night, do you think this cake would make a great dessert? Best wishes, Pauline

    1. it's pretty good pauline, and you don't need much as it is quite rich. it's a good book, and not just recipes. yep, go ahead and make it for dessert! a great idea...

  6. p.s. I think I may have seen her show on sbs catchup.

  7. You have amazing cake baking skills! Every cake you showcase makes my mouth water. But this chocolate still my heart, lol.

    I hadn't heard of this chef/author. Like you, we don't have cable or access to the Netflix feed. I get most of my ideas from food bloggers or Goodreads.

    1. thanks so much tina. very kind of you to say! it was a lovely cake for sure. who can resist half a litre of cream?:) It is a fab book too...

  8. A cake i'd sneak a slice of at midnight or anytime. Looks very yummy. I'm also a great fan of Salt Fat Acid Heat and really enjoyed her Netflix's series. Remember to keep calm and bake on!

    1. hi Ron
      yes i must hunt up that series of hers. everyone says it's great. yep i will definitely keep on baking! you too my friend...

  9. I love her book and the television series. And this cake is as dark as midnight - so wonderful to look at - wish I could have a bite. I am baking more bread than ever during COVID - but tried a new cracker yesterday as we are running low on them and we are doing lots of FaceTime and Zoom gatherings with our single friends. This lockdown must be hard for them...

    1. hi david
      yes a bit of black cocoa powder really makes this a midnight cake! you may have heard that our Victorian mates are not doing so well in the covid lockdown, and keep on going out and away!! naughty naughty... here in QLD we are very good, and have had zero new cases for ages. keep on cooking...

  10. I would love to read that book - and I love just how dark your cake it - it looks even more impressive with the white frosting. I wish I could say that I have baked more lately but unfortunately not! IT seems crazy I should have more time without going out and travelling to and from work but I don't seem to!

    1. hi johanna
      yes the black cocoa powder and the white cream topping make this cake look special indeed. where i have gone wrong is in reading. i have cooked and eaten heaps but my reading has gone down the tubes...

  11. Looks moist and chocolatey, I want a good slice of that please. BTW that Salt Fat Acid Heat sounds like an interesting read, though you might say its for novice, I bet I will get some things I never knew from it.

    1. hi Raymund
      no i don't think her book is for novices. it's just really helpful to all manner of cooks:) I really enjoy the factual stuff in it.

  12. I haven't seen her cookbook but with the illustrations I can imagine how much you would have liked it! :D

  13. I think I have this on audio. Or I thought about getting it on audio, or something.

    This cake looks amazing! I might try and make it over the weekend!

  14. This cake looks amazing and as for the frosting, I'd be first in line for licking the bowl! Sounds like a great book.

  15. We've been baking more than normal here, too...and that says a lot since I bake quite a bit to begin with! This midnight cake sounds delicious, and it looks pretty fun, too. I can totally see the midnight reference - that is one dark cake! I'm familiar with Salt Fat Acid Heat. It's a great book! Also, I wish everyone used weights (grams) to bake with as that's my preferred method, but weights still haven't caught on in America. You do see professional chefs and bakers use weights, but the home bakers still prefer cups. Oh well! Thanks for the fun post!

    1. hi david
      i used black cocoa so that made it really dark. yep it is a fab book. i may even end up buying it! take care.


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