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We Should Cocoa – the £1 Chocolate Cake Round-Up

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Gosh, I have so enjoyed this month’s challenge, even though it was a particularly tough one. Who would have thought you could make a delicious chocolate cake for £1 or under? I wasn’t at all sure it was possible. Well, as you will see from the following 23 fabulous entries in this month’s We Should Cocoa, not only is it possible, but there is more than one way to make a cheap chocolate cake.

Inspired by the Live Below the Line campaign, I set this month’s challenge to try and make a chocolate cake for under £1. Of course, if you are starving or really counting the pennies, chocolate cake is likely to be a luxury that can only be imagined. Attempting this made me ponder on just how lucky I am to be able to eat well without worrying about cost or availability. It was wonderful to see so many bloggers rise to the challenge especially as a number of compromises had to be made. I was glad to see that few compromised on eggs. I feel passionately about this issue and can in no way condone the use of battery or barn eggs.  One of the things I found out from hosting this challenge is that you can get 100g bars of chocolate for as little as 30p – I had no idea! Thank you so much to everyone who took part this month, you’re a sterling bunch.

Ceri from Natural Kitchen Adventures was straight in there on day two. She had already spent a week living on £1 a day so a whole £1 for a cake was rather a luxury. From her gluten free kitchen, she had the additional challenge of coping with expensive flour substitutes. In the end she came up with these dairy free, low sugar gluten free budget brownies which not only cost £1 exactly but sound delicious.

Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families also did the Live Below the Line challenge. Her chocolate cake for less than £1 came in at 98p, that is if you exclude the optional chocolate topping which added an additional 30p. I’d thought yogurt wouldn’t be an option as it can be quite expensive to buy, but it was used here together with coffee for extra flavour.

Laura from I’d Much Rather Bake Than … used this opportunity to bake a cake she’s wanted to try for a long time – a chocolate chilli loaf cake. Adapted from a GBBO recipe, she was delighted with both the flavour and velvety crumb especially as the ingredients cost 97p.

Rebecca over at BakeNQuilt had to convert £s to $s to figure out what she could spend on her cake. The result was her microwave chocolate crazy cake that came in at $1.33 or 78p on the day of conversion. I was interested to hear this plain vinegar and oil cake is also known as a Depression Cake, presumably originating from the Great Depression – a great recipe for tough times.

I was so excited by this challenge, I made two cakes, one with eggs and one without. I used drinking chocolate powder to shave off a few pennies, so the chocolate flavour wasn’t strong, but it was there. As it turned out the eggless vegan cake made with my dandelion honey was my favourite, although the malted hot chocolate cake was surprisingly good too. I give you this sticky, flavoursome banana hot chocolate honey cake.

 

Things got really wild over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and a drizzle of blackcurrant puree made for a very stylish finish to her cake. Made from a childhood recipe, this devil’s food cake came in at 98p. She was surprised to find out that the vanilla extract used was the most expensive ingredient in the cake.

Dashing Dom from Belleau Kitchen had three goes at this challenge with the first two ending up in the bin with the description “vile” attached to them. As so many did on this challenge, he raised the thorny issue of eggs. Not prepared to compromise on this issue his olive oil chocolate cake didn’t quite hit the £1 mark, but came in at a respectable £1.19.

Another additional challenge for Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist – the price of flour. She was quite shocked to find out her 25g of gluten free flour translated into a whole 220g of wheat flour. Despite this she came up with a very attractive and tasty chocolate-ginger loaf cake that came in at 97p.

Making cakes look attractive is of course really important and having seen what many of you have managed, I feel rather ashamed of my plain old cakes. Kate from What Kate Baked has made her banana and chocolate cake look absolutely stunning and totally worth the few extra pence that takes it over the £1. This one even contains chocolate chunks, how decadent is that?

The challenge captured the imagination of fellow chocoholic Zoe over at Culinary Adventures of The Cocoa Nut who I’m very pleased to welcome to We Should Cocoa. Her salted chocolate peanut butter n jelly torte is perhaps more of a dessert than a cake, but it sounds fabulous and at only 98p is definitely worth considering next time a pudding is required.

It’s pretty shocking, but I have occasionally heard that it’s cheaper to buy a cake than it is to make it yourself. Jean from Baking in Franglais has completely put paid to this one by doing a comparison. Not only was her homemade economical £1 chocolate cake nicer than the supermarket £1 cake, but it was much bigger, both in size and in wieght. She managed to ice hers too and it has made it look rather special.

Sarah over at Tales From the Kitchen Shed came up with a very elegant offering enriched with coffee and yogurt and all for just under £1. Her chocolate fudge cake is covered in chocolate icing and even more impressively chocolate curls. She has a rather ingenious method of making these and it’s definitely worth checking out her post to find out how she does it.

As many of us did, Corina of Searching for Spice decided to omit expensive eggs from her cake and was surprised at just how good it was. Her eggless chocolate cake came in at 90p so, as she said, it could easily have been cut in half and sandwiched with a layer of cheap jam for extra interest. The addition of golden syrup was a nice touch which must have added an extra bit of flavour.

Next comes a stylish offering from Suelle of Mainly Baking. She had three attempts at this challenge, but was happiest with this chocolate Swiss roll filled with orange curd and drizzled with chocolate. The ingredients for this cost 95p and produced six decent sized slices. Her other two bakes were these brownies and a chocolate orange cake.

With butter and eggs being particularly expensive ingredients Caroline of Caroline Makes decided to go vegan. She came up with a chocolate cake that only cost 88p so decided to jazz it up with a chocolate glaze. Like me, she was surprised at how good the cake was.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker is well known for her love of peanut butter, so I wasn’t altogether surprised when she came up with this chocolate banana and peanut butter cake. There was a secret ingredient here which enabled Ros to make the cake for exactly £1, a packet of supermarket sponge mix. The cake got the thumbs up from her work colleagues and she herself was surprised at how light and moist it was.

Ness of Jibber Jabber UK decided to have a clear out of her cupboards for the making of her chocolate malt cake. So it was that dates made their way into this eggless fatless cake which, along with golden syrup gave some moistness to what she thought might otherwise have been a rather dry offering. It cost 95p.

Janet of The Taste Space gives us something a little more unusual. Her chocolate chickpea flour cupcakes are not only vegan but grain free too. She’s decorated them with a chocolate tofu frosting, but I expect that would be well outside the £1 boundary. Although Janet didn’t work out the costings, she reckoned it would be about two Canadian dollars which is about £1. With the high cost of chickpea flour, cocoa powder and vanilla extract, i’m not so sure, but it would be interesting to find out.

Having icing on your £1 cake is obviously not the impossibility I thought it was. Hannah over at A Corner Cottage Bakery made a very cheap cake so was able to top it with a rather luxurious chocolate water ganache. The recipe for her chocolate cake with ganache was based on the Good Housekeeping’s economical chocolate cake and cost just over 92p in total.

Katherine over at Leeks & Lemoni is another that has been surprised at how good a cake made with oil and no eggs can be. She even went as far as to say her chocolate syrup cake was better than the regular chocolate cake she makes. This worked out at 1p over the £1 mark, but I think we’ll forgive her as it looks so pretty 😉

I’ve loved the variety of cakes that have been produced for this challenge and Rachel Cotterill gives us yet another permutation with her vegan mocha loaf. Tempted as she was to do a bit of foraging to liven things up, she reckoned that as many didn’t have access to foraged fruit, it was cheating. Looking at how good these slices are, I’m not really sure she needed it. The loaf came in at exactly £1.

Another iced cake comes in from Jill of Lapin d’Or and More. She also used a water ganache on her Mrs Beaton’s Cocoa Cake, but found it to be a bit thin and watery and wouldn’t recommend it if using cheap chocolate. She’s lucky enough to have her own hens and ducks, but costed the eggs up as if using supermarket budget ones. Even so, she came in at 2p over the £1 mark. If nothing else, this challenge has shown us all just how difficult it is to make tasty and nutritious food on a tight budget.

Vegan chocolate cakes are a speciality of Shaheen’s over at Allotment 2 Kitchen. CT and I can vouch for this having tried them last year. I still remember how light and delicious they were. For this challenge, she’s made a fiery vegan chocolate ginger cake and it sounds delicious.

48 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    31st May 2014 at 8:36 am

    This was an absolutely fantastic challenge theme, I really enjoyed this one. I spent ages in the supermarket costing ingredients up (I wrote them down in my notebook as proof) and then, would you believe, when I got to the checkout I realised I’d forgotten my bank card in my other jacket at home – a 30 minute drive away! So frustrated! My husband ended up going back to do the shopping while I stayed home with a big glass of wine!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 9:09 am

      Oh no Elizabeth how frustrating! Though it sounds as though it all turned out well in the end 😉 I really enjoyed this one too; all the posts were so interesting and everyone made such an effort.

      Reply
  2. Keep Calm and Fanny On

    31st May 2014 at 8:41 am

    What a fantastic selection of very different cakes and bakes, hats off to all the bakers for coming in under or around a pound, well done! A great challenge… Thanks.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 9:10 am

      Thank you, didn’t we all do well 😉

      Reply
  3. Rachel Cotterill

    31st May 2014 at 9:47 am

    Fantastic work by everyone who joined in – a really impressive collection 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 9:59 am

      Absolutely Rachel, thanks for joining in.

      Reply
  4. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    31st May 2014 at 10:12 am

    So many creative ideas here. Well done everyone!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 10:16 am

      Thanks Dannii, it was fun 🙂

      Reply
  5. Zoe Perrett

    31st May 2014 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for lovely comments re. my torte! Really interesting entries, and as a writer whose main specialism is Indian food I’m determined to try the besan (chickpean flour) cakes. The ingredient is used extensively in both savoury and sweet dishes in India; usually simply well- cooked in ghee and bound with a sugar syrup. It develops a bit of a biscuity taste when toasted so I used it in the base of my Curry For Change ‘Bombay Bad Boy’ cheesecake – but intrigued to try in in a Western cake. 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 10:18 am

      Ha, that gram flour is on my radar too Zoe. I bought some ages ago to try using in baking, but haven’t managed it yet. This has given me the nudge I needed – hopefully!

      Reply
  6. Laura Side Street

    31st May 2014 at 10:44 am

    Wow really love this £1 round up and just proves you can make beautiful and tasty casks for a pound – great!

    Laura x

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks Laura – I think most of us had to compromise on a few things, but what you say is essentially true 🙂

      Reply
  7. belleau kitchen

    31st May 2014 at 12:35 pm

    an entirely stellar round-up of what was, quite frankly a genius idea… bravo!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      31st May 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Yay Dom, thanks to all of you frugal and adventurous stars 😀

      Reply
  8. Katharine

    31st May 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I can only echo what everyone else has said – a great round-up for a great challenge. I’m amazed at what a variety of cakes were made and so many sounded and looked delicious. As you say though, it does make me feel very grateful that I’m fortunate enough to be able to eat well without having to worry constantly about my budget. What for most of us was an interesting exercise is for many a day-to-day reality.

    Reply
  9. Heather Haigh

    31st May 2014 at 3:58 pm

    What a wonderful selection of cakes – marvellous incentive to get baking. Thanks!

    Heather x
    http://eeebgum.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Heather – happy baking 😉

      Reply
  10. Laura Denman

    31st May 2014 at 4:11 pm

    What a fantastic round up – it just goes to show how creative we can be when given the push to challenge ourselves =)

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 8:59 am

      Absolutely, it’s good to push the boundaries sometimes Laura.

      Reply
  11. Jean

    31st May 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Amazing round up – how wonderful that so many people took the challenge on board and succeeded in making a decent cake for what is really very little money.
    I was extremely sceptical at first but some of these recipes look lovely – I feel compelled to try some.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:00 am

      Me too Jean, but I was quite won over.

      Reply
  12. Kate Glutenfreealchemist

    31st May 2014 at 8:30 pm

    This was a really thought-provoking challenge… Thanks Choclette! And what an amazing variation of cakes…. Isn’t it incredible what can be achieved so cheaply? I do however feel very guilty for having stooped so low as to use barn eggs… sorry!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:02 am

      You made a great cake Kate and I’m so glad you took part. We all have our own stopping points and eggs are one of mine.

      Reply
  13. Heidi Roberts

    31st May 2014 at 9:19 pm

    What a great collection of chocolate cakes! Don’t know which one looked best – they are all great.

    Reply
  14. Corina

    31st May 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Some lovely looking cakes – I am amazed at how cheap some of them are, especially the ones with some sort of icing on.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:03 am

      Yes Corina, it’s quite astonishing what some achieved.

      Reply
  15. Shaheen

    1st June 2014 at 6:39 am

    Who would have thought it would have been possible to create so many fabulous chocolate cakes for only a quid. Bookmarking many of these. PS You seem to have missed my entry, http://allotment2kitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/vegan-ginger-chocolate-cake.html
    🙁

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 8:06 am

      Oh sorry Shaheen, will add it now.

      Reply
  16. The Kitchenmaid

    1st June 2014 at 7:46 am

    Wow, all these clever people have completely put me to shame! Some great looking cakes there – and I’m so amazed that some of them are iced too. I feel terrible about missing out this challenge, I think it’s one of the few WSC events I haven’t managed. Next month I’ll have to submit two entries!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:07 am

      Feeling terrible? Not sure I believe that Lucy, but I did miss your entry. It was a tough challenge.

      Reply
  17. Deena Kakaya

    1st June 2014 at 8:01 am

    I’m so impressed with what a single pound can achieve! They all look so gorgeously tasty x

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:08 am

      Didn’t everyone do well Deena – I too am impressed with what can be achieved with so little.

      Reply
  18. Kavey

    1st June 2014 at 8:04 am

    Very inspirational challenge and so impressed with all the entries!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      1st June 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Kavey, it’s really quite astonishing what can be achieved with just £1.

      Reply
  19. lapin d'or

    1st June 2014 at 9:08 am

    I rarely cost recipes so this was a really fun challenge. As with cheap eggs some of the ethics around cheap chocolate are not so good so I will be avoiding the 30p bars as much as possible.

    Loads to read through her and lots to learn, thank you for a great challenge!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:20 am

      Very good point about cheap chocolate Jill.

      Reply
  20. Jacqueline Meldrum

    1st June 2014 at 11:27 am

    I am just amazed that you can make a chocolate cake for under a pound and look at them all! They look lush!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:22 am

      It’s been a really interesting challenge to take part in and most of us seem to have learnt a thing or two by doing it.

      Reply
  21. Ceri Jones

    1st June 2014 at 11:51 am

    Amazing array of budget cakes. Huge well done to everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge too (hence why I got to it straight away!) – and hope it raised some awareness for LBTL too 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:23 am

      Thanks Ceri. There was much “food for thought” and I think the LBTL message got out to lots of people who might not otherwise have heard o f it.

      Reply
  22. Johanna GGG

    1st June 2014 at 12:48 pm

    what an interesting challenge – I am so impressed at all the entries – I had my excuse of a blog break but I think it would have been touch and go whether I could get something in for this if I hadn’t had a break. It was interesting that quite a few old recipes surfaced, reminding us of how lucky we are and how rich our cakes have become.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:26 am

      Hope you’ve been enjoying your blog break Johanna. Sorry you didn’t manage to take part though as I’m sure you’d have come up with something interesting. There is no doubt that cakes have become a lot richer – I remember those my mum used to make and they were very plain.

      Reply
  23. Baking Addict

    1st June 2014 at 4:06 pm

    This has been one of the best we should cocoa challenges. I am really impressed at all the entries here and it’s really made me think about the cost of my baking ingredients. Excellent round up.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:27 am

      Thanks Ros, it was a good one wasn’t it and as you say, lots of impressive entries.

      Reply
  24. Alida

    1st June 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Fab round up Choclette! All delicious recipes. Hopefully I will be able to enter a recipe when I next bake with chocolate ;-)) my husband would be delighted, he is a real chocoholic!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      2nd June 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thank you Alida. It was most interesting to find out you could make a delicious chocolate cake for so little. I’m with you husband 🙂

      Reply

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