I love other people's recipes. Of all the possible hand-me-downs I think they are my favourite. Books are nice, clothes for the kids a real boon, and if I ever have any inherited wealth (which is extremely unlikely) I'm sure it would be lovely; but for reliable honest-to-goodness happiness it's hard to beat a tried and trusted recipe from a friend.
I've blogged Riet's wonderful apple cake before. I've passed on Danielle's Chinese Chews recipe so often that I store it on the desktop, ready to print. FP Bean Stew from my online pal Millie is one of our standard dinners now.
The greatest of them all has to be Grandma Curl's Potato Salad recipe, which Dar and Kir's grandma Pearl Curry taught my mum to make back in the 70s. She taught me and I taught Mark. I can't imagine a summer without it. If you ask very nicely (and you remind me) I will post it at some point.
The next best thing to family recipes are recipes from cookbooks that other people swear by. My lovely and baketastic friend Rachel told me to buy Annie Bell's Gorgeous Cakes and it's been one of my best ever buys. I use it all the time.
My pal Lynne was asking about a chocolate cake that even non-bakers would find easy. My tutor Lesley was after a reliable, delicious chocolate cake that both children and adults love, and the answer to both of them has got to be the Annie Bell traybake. It's dead easy and utterly delicious. It's also very moist and last a fair while. You wouldn't think it had to because it is scrumptious and surely will be gobbled up, but in fact it does matter because the cake is huge.
So, here you go - my favourite chocolate cake recipe for when you have loads to feed:
75g cocoa powder
200ml boiling water
1 tsp bicarb
and set aside for a few minutes.
4 medium (or 3 large) free range eggs
370g light muscovado sugar
180ml vegetable oil
then stir in
200g self raising flour
Add the cocoa mixture, mix thoroughly and pour into a baking tin about 23 x 30 cm (9 x 12 ish inches). Bake in a medium hot oven (180 degrees ish) for about 30 minutes. If your tin is smaller and deeper it might take 40 minutes. Let it cool before icing.
In a bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt together
150g dark chocolate
3 tbs milk
and keep stirring until smooth. Pour it over the cake and scatter M&Ms or other sweets, glitter, 100s and 1000s, silver dragees... just cover it with bright and shiny stuff. It looks lovely and partyish.
I didn't use it today for Z's 8th birthday party because he wanted a Number 8 cake, and 2 round cakes was the smart way to go, but I did bake one anyway this morning for a customer with a family party this weekend. I hope you enjoy it as much as they will.
Now wish me luck, my lovelies, because the over excited birthday boy woke us all up at 5:30 this morning and his party and sleepover is starting in an hour. It's going to be a loooooooooong night.
PS - Lesley also asked which Red Velvet cake recipe I use. I have a bunch, but I think I like the Magnolia one on the Guardian's website best. The quantities make 24 large cupcakes or 2 layer cakes, so most of the time I halve it.