During the blackouts of the Second World War, Ebinger Baking Company in the New York City borough of Brooklyn developed its Blackout cake. This cake was extremely popular in Ebinger bakery and many other bakeries across New York. Unfortunately the bakery closed due to bankruptcy but lucky for you, this fantastic recipe for smooth, velvetty chocolate fudgy, custard cake lives on!
This rich, dark sponge is filled and coated with a thick chocolate custard, then finished with crumbled cake. It is best eaten chilled from the fridge so the custard stays set. In my opinion, this cake improves with keeping. A real must try for chocolate lovers and custard lovers alike.
For the cake:
- 140g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 140g buttermilk
- 100ml coffee, made with 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g light muscovado sugar
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 50g cocoa powder
For the custard filling and covering:
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 500ml full-fat milk
- 140g chocolate, 85% cocoa solids, broken into cubes
- 50g cornflour
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Make the custard first as it needs to chill. Put all the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a large pan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time, until the chocolate has melted and you have a silky, thick custard. It will take 5-7 minutes from cold. Stir in the vanilla and a generous pinch of salt then scrape the custard into a wide, shallow bowl. Cover the surface with cling film, cool then chill for at least 3 hrs or until cold and set.
2. Heat oven to 180C. Grease then line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Melt the butter in a pan, then remove from the heat and beat in the oil, buttermilk, coffee and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together plus ¼ tsp salt and squish any resistant lumps of sugar with your fingers. Tip in the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.
3. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes or until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely, parchment-side down.
4. Remove the parchment linings from the cakes. If the cakes are domed, trim them flat. Now cut each cake across the middle using a large serrated knife. Put your least successful layer and any trimmings into a processor and pulse it to crumbs. Tip into a large bowl.
5. Sit one layer on a cake plate and spread it with a quarter of the custard. Sandwich the next layer on top, add another quarter of the custard then top with the final layer of cake. Spoon the remaining custard on top of the cake, then spread it around the top and down the sides until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up the custard again.
6. Hold the cake over the bowl containing the crumbs, then sprinkle and gently press a layer of crumbs all over the cake. Brush any excess from the plate. You’ll have some crumbs left. Chill for 2 hrs, or longer, before serving, and eat it cold. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. The cake gets fudgier and more enticing the longer you leave it. The coffee in the recipe cannot be tasted but really brings out the intense cocoa flavours in the custard and the sponge and the addition of a small pinch of salt in the custard really intensifies the chocolate even further.