This Salted Butter Chocolate Cake is rich and sophisticated, perfect for dinner parties.
As the daughter of a baker, something I cannot resist is the smell of freshly baked bread. And freshly baked bread slathered with good quality salted butter is, quite simply, a match made in heaven.
If I could have it my way, we would have only salted butter in our butter dish. But as we are careful about the salt content in our childrens’ diet, as well as our own nutrition, the only butter in our home is usually unsalted.
But once in a while, especially if we are having a plate of cured meats with a cheese platter and a good loaf of bread, we might indulge and buy a small packet of salted butter to go with. In Europe, the best quality salted butter generally comes from France, and my preference is for those with large sea salt crystals incorporated into the butter.
Faced with some leftover salted butter which was nearing its use-by date, I was reminded of this Salted Butter Chocolate Cake from Mimi Thorisson’s latest cookbook, French Country Cooking. In fact, when I first bought the book, it was one of the first recipes which caught my eye. I love salted chocolate and salted caramel … so a salted chocolate cake sounded pretty intriguing to me.
Generally speaking, unsalted butter is better for baking and cooking because it means that you can control the quantity of salt in your food. In particular, the amount of salt in salted butter varies from brand to brand, and this can quite often have an impact on the final taste of a recipe.
Unsalted butter is also, more often than not, better quality than salted butter; salt acts as a preservative which means that unsalted butter is generally fresher and has a shorter shelf-life. Although, as I mentioned above, my preference is for butter with sea salt crystals, and this type of butter often has a short shelf life like regular unsalted butter, which might indicate that it is a better quality salted butter.
But it is helpful to know that, as a general rule, if you use salted butter in baking or cooking, you should omit any salt specified in the recipe. This particular recipe goes against this rule; not only does it call for salted butter, but it also includes the addition of fleur de sel.
This Salted Butter Chocolate Cake is a rich and dense cake which lends itself well to dessert or pudding. Despite the use of salted butter as well as fleur de sel in the batter, it is not a particularly salty cake; most chocolate cake recipes tend to call for a pinch or two of salt to off-set the sweetness of the chocolate so it is not unusual for a cake recipe to include a bit of salt. There might be more salt in this cake than normal, but not so much that you notice it.
And in case you were wondering, fleur de sel is a type of sea salt which is commonly associated with the Brittany region of France. It is more refined than your usual sea salt and, due to its composition, it is more salty than other salts. For this reason, and also because of price, it is not generally used in place of regular table salt or sea salt for cooking; fleur de sel is more often used like a garnish, to sprinkle over food just before serving to enhance their flavour.
What is lovely about this cake is that it forms a nice crust upon baking, and if you wish to undercook it slightly, the centre remains moist and gooey should you wish to serve it warm. If anything, the taste and texture of this cake reminds me a lot of a good brownie.
For something a bit different, I opted to bake the cake in one of my fancy cake tins – this is something I like to do for plain cakes, just to make them look a bit more special. So unfortunately, you can’t see here the lovely crust which formed on top of the cake, but it’s good to know that this recipe can be used in a Bundt tin or similar.
And like with any plain chocolate cake, I think it is best served with lashings of freshly whipped cream, and lots and lots of berries.
Salted Butter Chocolate Cake
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6-8
- 90 g (6 1/2 tablespoons) good quality salted butter
- 230 g (8 oz) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 eggs
- 300 g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
- 200 g (1 2/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
- cocoa for dusting (optional)
- raspberries to serve
- whipped cream to serve
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F).
- Line a 23 cm (9 inch) springform cake pan with baking paper, and butter the sides.
- Place the butter and chocolate into a bain-marie over low heat, and stir until both have melted. Alternatively, place the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (but do not let the bowl touch the water), and melt the ingredients this way. Stir through the fleur de sel and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes while you get on with the next step.
- Place the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, and has doubled in volume.
- Add the chocolate mixture and mix to combine.
- Gently fold through the flour.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out mostly clean. It is a fairly moist cake, so the skewer will not come out totally clean. But if there is wet batter on the skewer, bake the cake for another 5 minutes or so.
- Leave the cake in the cake tin for about 10 minutes before carefully unmoulding.
- Serve warm or cool with raspberries and whipped cream.
- This is a simple, plain cake which is best baked in a round, springform cake tin to show off the lovely crust on top. However, it also works well in a Bundt tin or similar. If you choose to use a fancy cake tin, I highly recommend using a non-stick baking spray to grease the pan, followed by a good dusting of flour or cocoa powder. Whatever size pan you use, make sure you only fill it to about 2 cm (1 inch) from the top so that there is room for the cake to rise.
- If you do not have fleur de sel, you can subsitute for the same quantity of Maldon sea salt.
- You could also omit the fleur de sel in this recipe, and just use salted butter.
- Serving Size: 8
- Calories: 545
- Sugar: 44.6g
- Sodium: 279.4mg
- Fat: 25.4g
- Carbohydrates: 70.1g
- Fiber: 3.8g
- Protein: 9.6g
- Cholesterol: 165.2mg
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