Chocolate & marmalade cake


This is chocolate cake perfection. Two layers of darkly moist chocolate cake sandwiched together with a slather of bitter marmalade. This cake isn’t iced, but is so moist and rich that it doesn’t need it, and the absence of icing makes the marmalade layer really shine.

This cake can be thrown together very quickly, making it a perfect midweek evening bake for taking to work for a birthday shout, or for an impromptu whim of ‘let’s have chocolate cake on a Thursday night’.

Chocolate & marmalade cake (Lois Daish, Listener, July 14, 2001, p.42-3)

85g cocoa

1 1/2 cups boiling water

3 free-range eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

300g plain flour, sifted

435g brown sugar

2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

230g butter, softened until almost melting

For finishing:

bitter marmalade (Seville, if you have it)

icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line the base of two 23cm loose-bottomed cake tins with baking paper and lightly grease the sides.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In another bowl lightly combine the eggs, a quarter of the cocoa mixture and the vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and mix on a low speed for 30 seconds. Add the very soft butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the beaten egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins and smooth the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the tins on a rack for 10 minutes, then loose the sides with a butter knife and invert onto a greased wire rack (the cakes are quite sticky and greasing the rack will help to ensure the cake doesn’t adhere to the rack).

When cold, place one cake upside down on a serving plate and spread with a good slather of marmalade. Place the second cake on top, right side up. Just before serving, sift icing sugar over the top.


Chocolate coconut rough


Traditional home baking in New Zealand is an ongoing fascination for Lois. These are recipes that were shared between friends, published in fundraising cookbooks, and handed down through families in cursive handwriting on pieces of notepaper. These are recipes that are a part of our food history but have fallen out of fashion and are now often only found in bakeries and lunch bars made with inferior ingredients. Made with love, butter (always butter), good-quality coconut and cocoa, old favourite chocolate coconut rough is a thing is beauty.

Chocolate coconut rough (Lois Daish, Listener, April 7 2001)


1 cup of flour

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup coconut, long thread or desiccated

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa

100g butter, melted (add a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)


30gm butter, melted

1/2 cup coconut, long thread or desiccated

1 cup icing sugar

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa

boiling water

Preheat oven to 180°C. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to combine thoroughly and then tip into a lined or buttered baking tin and push down evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until you can smell the coconut toasting. While the base bakes, make the icing by melting the butter in a small saucepan and adding the coconut, icing sugar and cocoa. Add enough boiling water to make a sloppy icing and pour over the base while it is still hot from the oven. Cut into bars while still warm.

Classic chocolate cake

gingernuts and chocolate cake 010
This is an old-school style of chocolate cake; descriptors such as mousse-like and fudgey have no place here. Lois’ classic chocolate cake has a lovely chocolate flavour and is moist but not dense. It’s not overly decadent or indulgent and you won’t need a lie down after eating a slice. Made with simple ingredients that you are likely to have already have on hand, this cake is a perfect cake to have for morning or afternoon tea with a cuppa.

Classic chocolate cake (Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p.160)

150g butter, softened or at room temperature

150g brown sugar

1/4 cup golden syrup

2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature (placing whole eggs into a bowl of warm water quickly brings them to room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla paste)

150g plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa (I use Blooker Cacao brand)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

125ml milk

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the golden syrup, eggs and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add to the creamed ingredients alternately with the milk, and mix until smooth and lump-free. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes (use the skewer test to decide if the cake is done; a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should have a few crumbs stuck to it when pulled back out of the cake).

Chocolate glaze (Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p.161)

2 tablespoons caster sugar

25g butter

2 tablespoons water

50g icing sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa

Put the caster sugar, butter and water into a small pot and heat gently until it boils. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and pour the boiling syrup on top. Stir until smooth and pour over the cake while the mixture is still warm but the cake has cooled.