Sunken Drunken Chocolate Cake


Spring – just!

If last week was about finding a way to work through some muscovado sugar, this week I’m dealing with prunes. I’m not sure quite how I came by a bag of these items – ordered by mistake when I meant to buy some other dried fruit, purchased for a chutney recipe that I never ended up making – they were another example of terribly poor cupboard management and the time was ticking by until they were due to meet their expiry date… they needed to become cake.


Collected ingredients

Prunes… chocolate… brandy… booze. It sounds like a devilishly easy path to wander down, debauchery at every turn. It’s also the start of a recipe that sounds quite delightful. For once, I’m mainly doing as I’m told and sticking to the ingredients but I’ve messed around a little with the quantities…


  • 250g prunes (Agen if you can get them), pitted
  • 8 tbsp Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry
  • 100g butter, plus extra for the tin
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 140g dark chocolate (70%), chopped
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs , 2 separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp plain flour


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Gently heat the prunes and Sherry over a low heat until hot. Remove from the heat and leave for about 1 hr or until the prunes have absorbed almost all of the liquid. Whizz the prunes and any remaining booze in a food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Butter and line the base of a 20cm springform tin. Dust with cocoa, tip out any excess and reserve. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir in the prune mix.
  3. Whisk the sugars, 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks until pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold the chocolate mixture and vanilla into the egg mixture, then sift over the ground almonds, flour and remaining cocoa. Fold until everything is combined.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 mins or until a light crust has formed. Allow to cool in the tin – it will sink and crack as it cools. Remove from the tin and dust with cocoa before serving.

Almost Christmas

As I write, I’m up to the end of the heating of the prunes and the sherry and the kitchen is full of dark brown fumes that are making my head spin. It’s almost a lovely, rich, Christmassy smell but it’s just a touch too redolent of hitting the cooking sherry too early in the day and then regretting the resultant headache. It’s a scent that sits in the pores of your skin and follows you around the house. Never mind. I’m sure by the time I’ve melted chocolate, make the cake mix and started it gently cooking away, things will smell a lot more pleasant.

Anyway, the scent suits my mood today. Thick, fuggy, morose. I’m frustrated with myself and cross at the world: I’m going to have to take a little bit longer to finish my thesis. This is me being grown up: I’ve taken a look at the work that I’ve still got to cover, a look at various big things that are going to happen over the summer and weighed up whether the two can work together and the conclusion is no, they can’t. The PhD is hugely, immensely and vastly important to me but it’s not the most important thing in everyone else’s world and being there for people who need me has to come first. Studying at the OU makes this possible: I can take a short break from my studies while everything in chaotic and then start up again, full steam ahead, when they’re calmer. Everyone understands and accepts this. There’s a form to complete. It’s fine. But this is me not being grown up: I’m a failure, I’m never going to complete, I’m useless. What’s the point?

I’ll be ok. This is still a fresh decision for me, the pixels are barely dry on the form. Right now it just stings so much and I’m bitterly sad so I’ll bake a lumpen, sunken cake to match. Drown the prunes if I can’t drown my sorrows, turn my bad mood into something dark and delicious. Here’s the finished product:


Sunken Drunken Chocolate Cake



Just a small slice

And hope next week I’ll be back to making something light and airy. I’m very tempted to go back to being fifteen and start up a German Friendship Cake – I can still remember the lovely, unique flavour of those and Catherine’s blog is a mine of helpful information…

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4 Responses to Sunken Drunken Chocolate Cake

  1. Hello 🙂 thank you so much for the link to my blog.
    I meant to comment yesterday but got totally lost in your PhD work, the female face can be much more uncanny than a male face, I wonder why?!
    I have an MSc to my name but did that straight after my degree at age 21, I just don’t think I could do it all again. Stick with it though, you are half way there! Plus cake always helps 😉
    Catherine xxx

    • Hello! Ooh, what was your MSc in? I honestly wouldn’t recommend a part-time PhD to anyone who works full time or has a busy life at home. It takes up such a huge amount of your life and should deserve a lot of your energy and attention. I’ll scrape through mine but I always feel like I’m not giving it the time it really deserves.

      Mm, male and female uncanniness – I don’t know, but I found that when I was working with the faces where I was blending together different expressions: there were more expression blends in the female faces that looked eerie to me than the male ones. As for why that might be – we know that women are better at recognising female faces than male faces so it may be that we’re both paying more attention to the female faces and therefore are more sensitive to the aspects that make them not-quite-human and that’s why they seem uncanny. The question is, if I asked my husband to look at the same faces, would he find the male or female faces creepier? That logic suggests he’d find the male faces creepier than the female ones.

      Now, I’ve not actually analysed this, but I could do! One benefit of taking longer over the write-up is that I can go back and look at things like this – I might run a quick analysis of the eeriness of male and female models by whether the participant was male or female, just to see if our hunch is correct. I’ll report back 🙂

      Baking definitely helps! I’ve been given a very promising recipe for a lemon and poppyseed cake which I may well do over the weekend…

      Hope you’re having a lovely Friday 🙂 Steph.

      • My MSc is in Environmental Management, final dissertation was looking at the production of used cooking oil from all the restaurants at Heathrow airport and whether it was worth collecting, cleaning, refining and using as a bio-diesel in the vehicles on site. Very practical 🙂 Worked out it would have been viable but no idea if they did it, can’t imagine they did!

        I may do a PhD one day…I want to write a book/get a book published, so think I need to get on with deciding what it should be about then working on it.

        Would be interesting to see what the findings are of male-male and female-female uncanniness 🙂

        Is that a Hummingbird Bakery recipe? It’s yummy if it is, actually that combination is yummy anyway so doesn’t matter what recipe it is!

        Had a super Fri, hope you have a good weekend, hehe 🙂 Catherine

      • That sounds like a fascinating topic for a dissertation; something really practical with important real-world applications. I’m impressed 🙂

        I’ve been working on a book for far too long now – it was a birthday present a few years back where you send off your manuscript and the company publish it for you. (This was before self-publishing became easier/popular to do) I’m hoping that this will be the year I actually get something written that I’m happy enough to send off but ah, it’s all about finding the time :/ What topics are you considering for yours?

        No significant difference on the eeriness of male-male / female-female faces, sad to say. More details to follow in my next post!

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