Chocolate and cherry mud cake with hot chocolate sauce


* 250g unsalted butter
* 250 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids chopped
* 150 ml water
* 150g self-raising flour
* 150g plain flour
* 60g cocoa powder
* 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 500g caster sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 tbsp sunflower oil
* 125ml buttermilk
* 250g cherries, soaked in kirsch

Fo the hot chocolate sauce

* 250 g dark chocolate buttons, (70% cocoa) chopped
* 125ml double cream
* 160g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Brush a light coating of oil onto a 20cm round cake tin. Line the tin with baking parchment, ensuring that it comes at least 2.5cm above the rim.

2. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate, water and 4 tablespoons of the kirsch that the cherries have soaked in. Keep stirring until the mixture is a smooth consistency. Remove from the heat.

3. Meanwhile drain the liquid from the cherries.

4. Sift the flours, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar and make a well in the centre.

5. Break the eggs into the dry ingredients and pour in the sunflower oil and buttermilk. Slowly fold everything together with a large metal spoon. Gradually fold in the chocolate mixture too, until you have a lovely smooth mixture. Finally fold in the drained cherries.

6. Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and loosely cover with a piece of baking parchment. Place in the oven and cook for 1½ hours. Test that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done. If it is still a little sticky, return the cake to the oven for another ten minutes or so. Allow the cake to cool in a tin.

6. To make the hot chocolate sauce, place the chocolate, double cream and sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

7. Put a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and then transfer the cake onto the rack. Pour over the hot chocolate sauce, ensuring that the cake is evenly covered. If you make the cake in advance you can portion it up beforehand and make the sauce just before serving.

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