The Husband had three birthday cakes this year – the white chocolate mousse/chocolate brownie cake at his party, and for his actual birthday, which we spent at his parents’ up North, his mother made a lemon drizzle cake, and I made this (writing melted a bit during the journey).
The whole family had a good go:
But we still had a huge amount left over, which we brought to church and shared out. Our friend Martha left an enthusiastic note in the cake box saying: “Who made this cake? It is AMAZING!! Martha xx” … so Martha, this is for you:
Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe
This was made over a couple of days – made the cake, split it and froze the layers between parchment to make them easier to handle. The next day, made the filling, layered up and coated the monumental whole with ganache. I chose this slightly non-standard recipe, partly out of love of The Great British Bake-off, but mostly because I sometimes find normal cake a bit dry and greasy, but this (made in the “melted” style of a gingerbread) came out very moist and spongy. Originally, I used white choc buttercream for one of the filling layers which I would not recommend at all – instead of a 3 layer cake, I’ve written the recipe as a 2-layer cake with a single layer of creme patisserie as the filling.
200g dark chocolate, chopped
200g butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
125g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
75ml crème fraîche
Preheat oven to 170 C; grease and line a 20 cm springform cake tin (or two separate cake tins)
1. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate, butter and water together over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, (or the bowl of a stand mixer) beat the eggs and crème fraîche together, then beat in the chocolate mixture.
3. Sift in the flours and cocoa powder, and add the sugars. Fold in the flour mixture until smooth.
4. If using two separate tins, pour half of the batter into each and bake for 35-40 minutes. If using one tin, scrape the batter in and bake for 45 mins, or until the top is firm to the touch.
5. Remove the cakes from the oven and set aside to cool completely. If using one tin, when cool release the bottom of the pan, and slide up in the tin until the sides are halfway up the cake, like a shirt cuff. With the tin on its side and using a large serrated bread knife, cut the cake using short sawing motions, keeping the knife lined up with the tin so that the line is straight.
Freeze the layers between baking parchment.
125 ml milk
125ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour
1. Measure the milk and cream using a large Pyrex measuring jug; pour into a saucepan (ideally with a spout) and heat over a gentle flame until small bubbles form at the edges, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
2. Meanwhile, separate the egg yolks into the measuring jug, reserving the whites (freeze in bags, perhaps to make macarons). Add the sugar, vanilla and flour and whisk with a hand mixer until pale and thick.
3. Pour the hot milk/cream into the egg mixture, whisking as you go. Add a tiny bit at first and whisk until fully combined before adding more.
4. Tip the mixture back into the pan and turn the flame up to medium, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until really nice and thick. Don’t worry about letting it boil or lumps forming – the flour will stop it from curdling.
5. Finally, pour it back into the measuring jug, give a last whirl with the hand mixer to get rid of any lumps, and cover with cling film, pressing it right into the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool, ideally not in the fridge.
When the custard is cool, take the cake layers out of the freezer, and pop the bottom one on a cake platter or whatever you are serving on. Spread the creme patisserie over the bottom layer using a knife, and going almost but not quite to the edge. If in doubt, err on the side of having more filling in the middle. Top with the second layer and coat with the ganache as soon as possible.
300ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate, chopped
1. Heat ingredients in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until the chocolate is half melted; remove from the heat and whisk until thick and smooth. (do nto overbeat in case the chocolate splits)
2. Using a spatula, spread a generous layer of the chocolate ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with chocolate shavings, maltesers, chocolate buttons, chocolate writing icing etc. Keep in the fridge.