Emergency Chocolate Cake with Crisis Icing
Food for Thought, Great Britain and Ireland

Bake 20 – Emergency Chocolate Cake and Crisis Icing

Emergency Chocolate Cake with Crisis IcingSo, how was everyone’s Jubilee Weekend? And for those of you outside the UK who just don’t care about our royal family… happy June!

We spent the extra-long long weekend in Wales, catching up with friends and family and attending a very gorgeous wedding. And on the Sunday afternoon, while the rain clattered against the windows and the daughter enjoyed a sleepover with her grandparents, the husband and I found ourselves home alone at my parents’ house with time on our hands. Not something that happens very often.

I should have got some work done, but it was such a perfect rainy Sunday afternoon for curling up under a duvet and watching an Agatha Christie… I couldn’t resist.

Still, about half way through the second of a Poirot triple bill, and about an hour after the shops closed, I grew restless. I wanted to bake something.

My excuse, when the husband looked at me in disbelief at my pronouncement, was that my brother Kip and his toddler son (with a lion sized appetite) were coming for lunch the next day. They’d like cake, wouldn’t they?

My parents and youngest brother, Mike, were away sunning themselves on holiday, and I didn’t think they’d begrudge us a bit of something sweet compiled from the contents of their kitchen. I was fairly confident they’d have what we needed – both my parents are fantastic cooks, and Mike has been on a bit of a surprise cake making bent recently. So I raided the cupboards to see what we had. Flour, yes. Sugar, sure. Cocoa, even. Eggs… not so much.

This would have been less of a shock, if it wasn’t for my mother’s addiction to boiled eggs. No, really, a morning without a boiled egg for breakfast is a trial to my mother. Having less than a dozen eggs in the house may bring on a panic attack.

This day? No eggs. Not a one.

Still, not a problem. Fortunately for me, the internet is full of helpful people with delicious recipes for egg free cakes. This is the one I made, adapted slightly to suit the quantities of ingredients I could find in the house.

Emergency Chocolate Cake


  • 275g sifted plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 35g good-quality cocoa powder
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 350ml water
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4. Grease and flour a baking tin.
  • In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Add sugar and mix together.
  • Add oil, water and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour into prepared baking tin. Bake for 1 hour or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.

Super, super easy, which was a definite bonus this weekend.

The only problem was, I thought it needed some sort of icing. Except there was no icing sugar in the house. Suffice to say (and I’m sparing you photos) after some experiments with some no-icing-sugar-icing recipes also kindly provided by the internet, the husband declared that it looked just fine without and was probably delicious and could we just go and find out who did it in Poirot now, please.

Uncle Kip at work
Uncle Kip at work


The following day got away from me slightly, with visits to elderly relatives and, well, having a lie in, so by the time the husband fetched the daughter back from the in-laws, very excited to see her Uncle Kip and little cousin, the cake was still the only thing we actually had for lunch. Not my finest hostess moment.

Fortunately for me, my brother saved the day. Uncle Kip arrived with sausages to contribute to the feast, then on viewing the utter lack of food took himself off to the corner shop to return with more sausages, rolls to have them in, a bar of Bournville chocolate and a pot of double cream.

“I’ve been making some cakes lately,” he announced, making a total of two brothers with a hitherto unsuspected baking urge. “What that cake needs is a ganache. And it’s really easy. Watch.”

He proceeded to then fry sausages, entertain his not-quite-eighteen-months-old son, and make ganache, all at the same time. Impressive stuff.

Uncle Kip’s Crisis Icing


  • One large bar of Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate
  • One pot of double cream
  • (Sausages in rolls, optional)


  • Heat cream in a pan until boiling
  • Break chocolate into pieces in a bowl
  • Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until all melted and smooth
  • Chill until thick enough to spread on cake

After our sausages, and while the ganache was chilling, we pottered down to the local park to make the most of the one brief dry period of the bank holiday weekend. While exploring the trees and the playground, the daughter taught her cousin to say her name, and was outrageously pleased with herself.

Almost as pleased as she was when Uncle Kip let her help to ice the cake… and lick her spoon.

Licking the SpoonLicking the Spoon