Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Mr Barry’s Chocolate Cake – A Random Recipe

For this month’s Random Recipe challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen is celebrating two years of blogging and has asked us to bake him something lovely but random. For some reason I don’t have any cookbooks purely on baking (well, I probably do but I couldn’t find any). So instead I thought I’d randomly select from a folder of recipes that I’ve taken from magazines over many years – there’s plenty of baking in there. When I opened this, though, I came up with something that might not be an obvious choice, but which I just couldn’t resist baking – Michael Barry’s Crafty Chocolate Cake.

For those who don’t live in the UK or who are too young to remember, Michael Barry was a chef (actually, I’m sure he’d say cook) on radio and TV, notably on a very successful BBC TV show ‘Food and Drink’ in the eighties (and nineties, I think). He specialised in simplified and easy recipes that he described as ‘crafty’. This particular recipe was one of his best known but I have a feeling that it might be in danger of fading away. Sadly Michael Barry died last August. (In fact, his real name was Bukht and he was primarily a broadcasting executive rather than a chef, but I’ll try to stick to the food since this is a food blog, after all.)

Way back in the early eighties Michael Bukht/Barry lived very near me in London and I got involved in the campaign to get him elected during a brief and probably ill-advised sortie into politics. Did he get elected? No, not even close. But this cake reminds me of strange and oddly enjoyable days knocking on doors, folding leaflets, hanging around polling stations and trying to get over the defeat by spending what seemed like several days in a pub. (Mr. Bukht wasn’t there – he was probably off somewhere starting up another radio station).
Mr Barry's Chocolate Cake
So sorry, Dom, this bends the Random Recipe rules a bit and has even turned elegiac rather than celebratory but the important thing is that this is a remarkably easy (sorry, I should say crafty) and very pleasing cake. In the eighties I’d probably have filled it with cream but in these more restrained times I decided on apricot jam instead. Despite being so well known once, this recipe is getting a little hard to find but there’s a version of it available on this Oxfam site. The site promotes the use of Fair Trade products and, yes, I did use Fair Trade products when making this cake. One word of warning, though: I’ve made versions of this cake in several different ovens over the years and it’s never taken as long as the recipe suggests, so be careful not to overcook it.

Thank you Mr Bukht for some interesting memories and canapés.

26 comments:

  1. oh goodness gracious..wat an inviting cake
    new to your space..lovely space you have
    excellent posts with stunning cliks
    happy following you..;)
    do stop by mine sometime
    Tasty Appetite

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  2. I love this cake - I've been making it ever since it was shown on the old Food and Drink TV programme - and that was back in the Eighties, as you say. I always recommend it as an alternative to a chocolate Victoria Sandwich cake, as it's quicker, easier and more chocolatey

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  3. We both love chocolate cake, can we pop over for a slice please. Yum yum. Diane

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  4. Mmmm, it looks lovely and moist. I will check out the Oxfam site as I would like to have this recipe!

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  5. I miss those TV programmes, with Michael Barry and his co-presenters. We watched most of them.
    We have an excellent book by Mr Barry called "the crafty French cook" which we use regularly.
    This cake looks delicious, very chocolatey and easy too - will make a note of the recipe and give it a try. Thanks for the link.

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  6. Have never heard of him but the cake looks gorgeous!

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  7. Goodness me, this is just amazing. You bake always excellent cakes!

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  8. Gosh I had forgotten all about Food & Drink. This cake looks so moist and I really want a slice right now! Lovely photo.

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  9. I remember him!... wow, this is bringing back so many memories!... thank you!... I love the cake, it really does look light and fluffy... I shall enjoy this for my celebrations... thank you so much for taking part x

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  10. I have his seasonal cookbook and remember that he uses the term "crafty" quite a lot! LOVE the look of that light and airy cake, very "more-ish". Karen

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  11. I don't remember these programmes but this cake looks really chocolatey so I might look Michael Barry up and check out his other recipes. GG

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  12. Gorgeous cake and a trip down memory lane! I really, really want a slice of your cake!

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  13. Dear Phil, Beautiful looking cake. I have not heard of this man, but this sure looks good. Blessings, Catherine

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  14. Wonderful looking cake - I love the look of that slice. My mum had one of his books when I was a child and I know I've made this cake in the past - I should revisit it soon. Interesting the history you give about Michael Barry - I certainly didn't know his real name or his background.

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  15. What a beautiful cake, another one of your delicious creations. The slice looks so perfect! I've finally done it! I've attempted to recreate your Canelés. I couldn't get the timing or oven temperature right.

    http://www.cakesandteacups.com/2012/04/caneles.html

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  16. The cake looks delicious, Phil, and I remember Michael Barry and 'Food and Drink' well.

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  17. But what was his manifesto Phil? I now have an image of a great baking campaign. Elect me and you shall all eat cake!

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    1. That's a brilliant idea. We really should have tried that. I'd rather get a piece of cake than an election leaflet.

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  18. My goodness Phil, the cake looks to die for! Is it quite a moist cake? It does look very inviting. Love apricots - and funnily enough just posted a baked apricot recipe with walnuts -, brilliant idea to use instead of cream, thanks for sharing,
    Ozlem

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  19. Oh wow...this looks like the perfect slice...light and spongy with a dusting of icing!! This wouldn't look out of place in a good coffee shop!! :-)

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  20. I had forgotten about Michael Barry, so thanks for reminding me and I like the image of you in that pub. They should do repeats of Food and Drink, I am sure there is room somewhere on one of the many channels. The cake looks very lovely.

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  21. I've never even heard of him until you brought him up. anyway I hopped over from dom's roundup because this looked just too perfect to miss. that light, fluffy sponge, ooh!

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  22. Gorgeous color and loft ... does it ever even need a frosting? Looks so moist and light! Kudos, Phil!

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  23. Easy and Simple recipe! What can I ask for but a plate of that scrumptious delight! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! Have a happy evening!

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  24. Wonderful cook he was. Made this for my son who was in the RAF in the 80's and this was his ery own favourite. One time when he was some with a couple of mates I made this choc cake, and having been to a tupperware party where they had run out of labels,I got mixed up and put Saxa salt into my lovely cake instead of the fine caster sugar! What a pallava, the choc smell of the cake all over the house and unfit to eat. But they had had T-bone steaks for dinner so I was forgiven. Mind you I was more careful of labels on different containers ever after. Cheers

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    1. Just about everybody I know has made the salt for sugar mistake at least once so you're not alone. believe me. I've never done it myself, but saying that is tempting fate - it can only be a matter of time. Mr MB was a fine, no nonsense cook and this cake was typical of his food in many ways. Thanks for visiting.

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