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This Sunken Chocolate Soufflé Cake Recipe Brings the Drama

From Claire Ptak of London’s Violet cakeshop and the “Violet Bakery Cookbook”

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Photography copyright 2015 by Kristin Perers

Summer's heat has begun to diminish, and that means fall baking season approaches. Looking for a dessert for your next dinner party? Baker Claire Ptak of London's Violet cakeshop shares the perfect recipe from her new book, The Violet Bakery Cookbook: A sunken chocolate soufflé cake that is simple to prepare, and makes for a dramatic presentation. Serve it with a bowl full of whipped cream or a pint of raspberry ice cream.

Sunken Chocolate Soufflé Cake Recipe

Makes one 23-cm (9-inch) cake, which serves 8 to 10

I used to call this a flourless chocolate cake in the early days of my cake stall, and it was so funny to hear people ask for the “flavorless” chocolate cake; however, Sunken Soufflé Cake describes it better. It’s a soufflé, made rich with dark chocolate, and when baked just right is super-rich and gooey but then just melts in your mouth and actually feels quite light. These types of flourless cakes were really popular in restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s, but today people tend to add lots of nuts to their chocolate cakes. I love a nutty chocolate cake, but a pure chocolate cake is so lovely.

NOTE: You need to use an electric mixer to get the right volume with this cake.


150g (⅔ cup) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
180g (6½ ounces) dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
150g (¾ cup) sugar
cocoa powder, for dusting on top


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F (150°C/300°F convection). Butter a 23-cm (9-inch) springform cake pan and line with parchment paper.

Step 2: Melt the butter and chocolate with the salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally but not vigorously. Once the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the pan from the heat but keep the mixture warm and resting over the pan of water until ready to use.

Step 3: Separate the eggs, placing the yolks into the bowl of your stand mixer first. Add half of the sugar and whisk until the mixture forms pale and fluffy ribbons and has doubled in volume. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the pan of hot water and set it on your work surface. Fold the whisked yolks into the melted chocolate. They should be marbly and not fully incorporated.

Step 4: Wash out the mixer bowl and dry it thoroughly, and now add the egg whites to it along with the remaining sugar. Whisk on a high speed until medium-soft peaks form. Do not overwhip. The consistency of the egg whites should resemble that of the yolk and chocolate mixture. Fold the whites into the chocolate until just mixed, then pour into your prepared pan.

Step 5: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top of the cake is puffed and just starting to crack. The cake will still have a bit of a wobble and will be puffing out over the top of the pan. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and coax any extra overflowing cake back into the pan. Allow to cool for a good 20 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan, peel off the paper, and slide the cake onto a nice serving plate. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.

Reprinted with permission from The Violet Bakery, by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Peek Inside ‘The Violet Bakery Cookbook,’ a Collection of Quietly Elegant Recipes [E]

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