I used to have one fool-proof recipe for chocolate cake which served me well for, ahh, many years. It came from the Be-Ro cookbook, the edition whose cover picture is three generations of smiling women in a kitchen surrounded by assorted tempting pies, cakes, and flans of various descriptions.
Now I have a quicker and easier recipe (from a book with an only slightly less cheesy front cover) which involves putting all the ingredients into one bowl together, beating it up for a couple of minutes, and baking in two 8-inch tins for 25 minutes at 180 C. Specifically, you make a paste of cocoa and water (1.5 and 3 tablespoons respectively), then you just add 6 oz each of butter, sugar, and self-raising flour, plus three eggs and a teaspoon and a half of baking powder. Easy as that.
Once it’s cooled, you make a fudge icing by melting butter (2 oz) with cocoa (1 oz), adding a couple of tablespoons of milk, and whisking in 8 oz icing sugar. It’s the most successful icing I know, and there’s enough to sandwich the two layers plus the top.
By now you can tell that mentioning the apricot jam was only an excuse to talk about chocolate: but there is actually a link here, because this particular recipe also features a use for apricot jam, which I think I’ve only ever experienced in its function as leftovers of a chocolate cake ingredient. You put several tablespoons of apricot jam through a sieve, perhaps warming it slightly first to make the sieving process easier, then spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides (as well as in the middle if you remember to do it before the icing). And as well as being most delicious, it also keeps the cake moist inside – which is highly convenient, if you’re the type of person who ever has to store their chocolate-related baking products for any length of time.