Chocolate Cinnamon Gâteau

civers 002This one’s from Cooking With Herbs and Spices by Josceline Dimbleby, published in 1979.  As David Dimbleby’s first wife this book is an intriguing insight into the bizarre eating habits of the rich and famous. Only kidding, it’s a collection of dubious seventies dishes, including Surprise Meatballs – “I love meatballs and there seem to be endless variations to try out. My husband suggested stuffing them with a nugget of cheese…” (It is my experience that if a dish has the word ‘surprise’ in the title then the surprise is very likely to be cheese*). But I wasn’t looking for savoury cheesy treats, but cake recipes, and went for this sumptuous sounding one.

Chocolate Cinnamon Gâteau

(Josceline writes)This is my idea of a perfect chocolate cake: moist, rich and gooey, covered with whipping cream and trickles of melted chocolate. It is much more of a pudding than a cake and always seems to disappear quickly.

5oz plain chocolate

6 tablespoons water

4oz butter or margarine

5oz soft brown sugar

3 large eggs, separated

2oz ground almonds

2oz fresh white breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Apricot jam

1/4 pint double or whipping cream

Grease a fairly shallow 7-8 inch cake tin and line with a disc of greaseproof paper. Melt 4oz of the chocolate in the water and stir until smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

Beat the butter until soft. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the ground almonds and the melted chocolate. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cinnamon.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5/ 375°F/190°C. Whisk the egg whites until they stand up in soft peaks. Then using a metal spoon, fold them gently into the chocolate mixture and spoon evenly into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until springy to a touch in the centre. Cool completely in the tin.

When cool, loosen the edges with a knife and turn out. Melt the remaining chocolate with 1 tablespoon of water. Stir until smooth and leave to cool. Put the cake on a serving plate and spread all over with apricot jam. Whisk the cream until thick and with it first ice the sides and then the top of the cake in rough flicks. Then holding the spoon high over the cake, trickle the cooled chocolate over it in thin criss-cross patterns.  Leave in a very cool place, preferably not the fridge, until ready to serve.


cake 051


  • This would be an irritating cake to make without a food mixer. I feel I am not being particulary authentic when I reach for the Kenwood but on the other hand I cannot be bothered doing these things by hand.
  • It’s a vaguely fiddly process, what with the melting chocolate, and the fact that I had to make the breadcrumbs (I decided the violent orange shopbought breadcrumbs from the Welsh Eggs would not be ok in a cake)
  • Everything went well until icing. Like a fool I didn’t let the cake cool completely and the cream went a bit funny first time round so I scraped it off and started again, after putting the cake in the fridge for a half hour, which apparently wasn’t enough as the cream did the same thing again. This time I’d run out of cream and left it as it was, deciding that it was only funny looking, not funny tasting.
  • I right messed up drizzling the chocolate over the top. I was tired by this point and should have made more of an effort. It looked more Pollock gone rogue than a ‘thin criss-cross pattern’. You can’t tell from the picture, but out of shot are many lakes of melted chocolate. Ah well.


This cake is delicious, and I intend to make it again, definitely. The slight tediousness of the recipe (and it is slight) is well worth the moist, rich, wonderfully textured cake. The ground almonds work very well, though I have to say the cinnamon is mild, but it works too.

*the exception being in vegetarian dishes where the surprise is usually sausages.

3 responses to “Chocolate Cinnamon Gâteau

  1. Sounds like the recipe is cunning in it’s use of bread crumbs (air) and almonds (oil, i.e. fat, liquid at room temperature) regarding the texture. Beyond that I can only say: YUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMM

  2. Oh sweet baby jesus. How do you make breadcrumbs, though?

  3. Apart from Monty Python’s ‘Nougat surprise’, which enclosed a spring-loaded bolt. Or the ‘rat surprise’, which is frankly self-explanatory.