The Trunchbull vs. Matilda’s Chocolate Cake

It feels very un-cool and un-Facebook-like to want to be a librarian in this day and age. I’m not talking about ‘dusty, grey, tights round the ankles’ type librarians. I mean the more the glamorous Audrey Hepburn-esque type librarian who wears Dior and Laboutin shoes and signs show tunes while dusting. That sort of librarian.  I have been a librarian – although it was less glamorous and involved rescuing forlorn, mouldy books from a flooded archive – I loved it. I don’t think I was very good, however, as I constantly stopped to browse through books with tantalising names like “100 things to do with a Turnip”.

Now, I go through genre addictions. One month I will read nothing but science fiction from the 1900s. Another month only Czech literature; Kafka and Kundera’s “The Guinea Pigs”; then perhaps a good two months on a staple diet of Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland. I veer wildly between the trashy to the obscure. I’ve just read ‘The Vicar of Nibbleswicke’ by Roald Dahl – as recommended to me by Carol! A very funny short story by Dahl that I had never heard of before.

I think I would be perfectly happy if I had library like Nigella Lawson’s below. Can you believe my other half keeps threatening to replace my books with a KINDLE!!!! 😦

{Images from left: Bookshelf Porn; Kate Armour – “My Dream Room” – Nigella Lawson’s library.}

“Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow; nurtured by all those authors who’d sent their books out into the world. Like ships onto the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: “you are not alone.” (Matilda, Roald Dahl).

I think that Matilda was definitely one of my heroes growing up. She had a voracious appetite for reading and also loved being in the library. I re-read Matilda again recently and was watching the trailers for Tim Minchin’s Matilda the musical. Inspired by this, I decided that I had to attempt to make Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake. For those of you who don’t remember the book – Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake after caught stealing from the pantry. After much cheering and whooping – Bruce finishes the entire thing. As well as a decadent dense chocolate cake, slathered with ganache, I also made a gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate cake for me.

Mrs Trunchbull’s Chocolate Cake (this was demolished before it was photographed)

250g/8½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
400g/14oz golden caster sugar
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
400g/14oz self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
pinch cinnamon
220ml/6fl oz milk
2 tbsp coffee liqueur
100g 70% chocolate (chopped into chunks)
25g cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache topping
200g chocolate
284ml carton double cream
1 tsp sugar

1. Pre-heat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
2. Cream your butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Put the butter in the microwave for 15 seconds if you have taken this straight out of the fridge.
3.  In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs, vanilla essence and oil together until airy and full of bubbles.
4.  In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder.
5. Put a teaspoon of egg mixture into the butter and cream mixture and stir until combined. Keep adding a tablespoon of egg until gone. This is very labour intensive if you don’t have a super dooper blender, but it burns off about an ounce of cake!
6. Then add in the dry mixture – again – a tablespoon at a time.
7. When combined, add in your coffee liqueur, milk and chocolate chunks – before putting into your cake tin.
8. Pop into the oven and wait with anticipation.
9. To create your topping, melt the chocolate and cream over a bowl of boiling water.
10. Leave to cool slightly and then spread over the top of your cake.

Maltida’s gluten free, sugar-free chocolate cake

1/2 cup gluten-free cocoa (Green & Blacks dark cocoa is good)
25g (4oz) coconut flour
125g (4oz) chestnut flour
125g (4oz) butter, at room temperature
200g (6oz) xylitol
2 tbsp cacao brazil nut spread
4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100ml (3½fl oz) natural yogurt (try Rachel’s Greek yoghurt)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1½ level tsps gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
4 fl oz Milk

Rococo sugar free, dairy free chocolate
284 fl oz cream

1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
2. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa together.
3. In another bowl whisk your eggs and vanilla essence.
4. Add in the egg mixture into the butter and sugar mixture – one tablespoon at a time. This stops it from curdling and keeps it light and fluffy. Its more work but the results are much better.
5. Add in the flour mixture – again – one tablespoon at a time.
6. Finally stir in your yoghurt and use the milk to make the mixture feel like soft peanut butter.
7. Put the mixture into a pre-greased 6-8 inch tin.
8. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes at Gas Mark 4 / 180°C / 300 F.
9. To create your topping, melt the rococo chocolate and cream over a bowl of boiling water.
10. Leave to cool slightly and then spread over the top of your cake.

The results: Deeelicious. Fluffy, chocolatey, and I feel so virtuous eating it. I really didn’t believe this would turn out well, but I’m still eating it a week after and it is still so moist with just the right amount of chocolateyness.

What could be better than a book, a piece of chocolate cake and warm puppy on your knee…oh yes, sitting in your own library wearing a Nina Ricci dress and Laboutin shoes. I forgot.


15 thoughts on “The Trunchbull vs. Matilda’s Chocolate Cake

  1. I do have an enormous amount of cookbooks and dream that someday they will be all stashed in those wonderful barrister bookcases in a big study. Alas, my present house is a mere tiny box.
    Both of these cakes are chocolatey which is hard to resist, but I am intrigued by the first one with the coffee liqueur. This is a well written and delicious post-I enjoyed reading!

  2. There is nothing fusty about being a librarian–I feel like that might have been my missed calling! Now in envy of Nigella’s library. And Kindles are good–but only for reading at the gym and travelling. Otherwise, physical books rule.

  3. Oh, I wish I was forced to eat this whole cake! Sigh. It’s amazing! I think you and my husband are cut from the same tree because he definitely feels the same way about books as you do. I’m an auditory reader myself…in fact, I just started part 12 of War and Peace on my ipod. I think that might be even more un-facebook than being a librarian 😉

  4. i love your blog! What an amazing idea. I love the Matilda movie. And even though the chocolate cake the little boy ate was made by that gross old lady, it looked luscious and tasty.

    beautiful pictures too!

  5. Hi There,

    This is a Wonderful site… !!! I mean par excellent in writing, presentation and recipes. I ‘m amazed by your talent and creativity and found all the posts(couple of) which I checked out to be truly masterpiece. Keep blogging and sharing ur skills. Thanks & regds, sonia

  6. Hi,
    I was just about to start checking if I had the ingredients for your first cake and in the directions it says to include the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder wasn’t included in the ingredients list, so I was just wondering how much was needed? Because it looks so yummy and I want to make it right!

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