The We Should Cocoa Challenge this month is to bake a chocolate cake for £1. The idea is to raise awareness of the fact that so many people have very little money available to spend on food and have to survive on £1 or less per day. You can read all about the challenge and the statistics here.
I priced up my standard recipe for an everyday, all-in-one chocolate cake and it worked out at £1.39 if I used the cheapest own brand ingredients and also omitted the icing. It then occurred to me that if I only had £1 to spend on a chocolate cake, would I bother to make one or just go out and buy a cheap one?
In both the Co-op and Tesco you can buy a chocolate cake for exactly £1 so I did, just to see what it was like.
It was a pathetic offering and looked pretty small on a tea plate, measuring barely 5” in diameter. According to the information on the box it would serve six!
So I decided it was worth a try to see if I could do better for my £1. I was really aiming to bake a “normal” chocolate sponge, with regular cake ingredients so I used own brand versions of the usual things, the main substitution being Co-op Buttery spread instead of butter. I then scaled down the ingredients in the recipe by a third.
I don’t have any 6” sandwich tins so I simply baked one 8” cake. When I took it out of the oven it already looked a lot more inviting than the shop bought cake and I still had enough left from the £1 to put some chocolate butter icing on the top.
Of course the taste also had to be taken into consideration so Nick and my dad offered to do an unbiased assessment. The feeling was that the bought cake tasted slightly more chocolatey but overall the home made cake was best because of its texture, appearance and the size of the slice.
Of course even if the ingredients only cost £1, you still have the cost of baking it in the oven, which I worked out to be 40-50p. You need a cake tin or mould and, as you can’t buy just 100g of flour or sugar, if you have to invest in full packs of all the ingredients, that would be a total cost of £7.98.
But if I only had £1 and wanted to treat the family to something that looks nice on the table, it would definitely be worth going to the effort of baking, rather than just picking up a cheap version in the supermarket.
Anyway, luckily my economical chocolate cake also fits in with this month’s Alphabakes Challenge, which is to cook something which has the letter “E” in it. The challenge is run by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker and you can see the details here.
Ingredients (prices are given for own brand basic ingredients)
For the cake
100g self raising flour, 4p
100g caster sugar, 14p
100g Co-op Buttery spread, 20p
2 large eggs, 33p (I buy mine from the local farm, six free range for £1)
1tbslp (13g) cocoa powder, 10p
1tsp (5g) baking powder, 1p
Total for the cake 82p
For the icing
20g Co-op Buttery, 4p
40g icing sugar, 8p
½tblsp cocoa powder, 5p
Total for the buttercream icing 17p
Grand total for the whole cake …… 99p
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4. Grease and line the base of a 20cm (8”) round cake tin.
Mix the cocoa powder with 1 tblsp warm water until smooth then put into a large bowl with all the other cake ingredients and beat well until smooth.
Transfer to the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until firm and springy.
Leave in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before applying the icing.
To make the icing, beat the Buttery and icing sugar together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy.
Mix the cocoa powder with barely a teaspoon of water until it becomes a smooth paste. Beat this into the icing and mix well. Spread on top of the cake.
Cuts into six generous slices !!