My Chocolate Show Stopper

Cakes

This chocolate cake might look a little intimidating on first inspection, but it is actually made using several very simple techniques. With my instructions you can’t go far wrong with the methods and once you’ve made it once you’ll have a go-to show stopper for Birthday gatherings and dessert spread centre pieces.

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So, the first component is the fudgy chocolate sponge mix. For this you’ll need:

300 plain flour, 400g caster sugar, 2tsp baking powder, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch salt, 80g cocoa powder, 3 eggs, 250ml milk, 140ml vegetable oil, 3tsp vanilla extract, 100g dark chocolate (melted), 200ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) then grease and line two 18cm loose bottom cake tins.

In a large bowl, mix together the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder with a wooden spoon.

Put your chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a simmering pan. Meanwhile in a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and leave to cool slightly. In three additions, add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing well as you go. Once smooth, pour in the melted chocolate and combine. Last of all, slowly pour the boiling water into the bowl and gently stir until smooth (the mix will be very liquid, but this makes the cake deliciously moist and fudgy).

Split the cake mix between your two tins and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once cooked leave to cool on a rack.

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While your sponges are baking, start on your striped jaconde sponge (this is made up of a decorative chocolate paste and a simple, light brown sponge mix).

For the decorative paste, combine: 60g butter, 60g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 40g plain flour, 40g cocoa powder

Simply combine these ingredients in a small bowl. Now, here is the tricky bit.

Line a 10x12inch shallow baking tray with baking paper (ensure the baking paper is big enough to line the walls of the tray too). Cut a separate piece of baking paper to the exact size of the bottom of the tray (10×12) and place on top of the larger piece.

Take the 10x12inch rectangle of baking paper and spread your decorative paste all over it in a thin 2-3mm layer, all the way to the edges.

Now, with a chop stick (or similar tool with squared off end) draw diagonal stripes through the paste so you are left with lots of chocolate lines separated by the lines of baking parchment (this creates the stripey effect on the outer edge of the cake).

Put the rectangle with the stripes on back into the lined baking tray and place in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes while you make your jaconde sponge mix.

And for the jaconde sponge you’ll need: 2 egg whites, 5tbsp caster sugar, 40g ground almonds, 60g icing sugar, 2 whole eggs, 20g plain flour, 20g butter (melted)

Up the oven temperature to 220c (fan). Now, in a clean bowl whisk your whites until stiff peaks are formed. Slowly add your caster sugar, still whisking, until a glossy meringue mix is achieved. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk your almonds, icing sugar and whole eggs until pale and fluffy. Fold in the flour, then the meringue mix. Finally, pour the melted butter in slowly and very carefully combine. The mix should be light and airy.

Retrieve your baking tray from the fridge. Pour the jaconde sponge mix evenly over the stripes of paste, using a spatula to make sure the gap between each chocolate line is filled. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until pale brown.

Once baked,turn the tray upside down onto a work surface and peel away the baking paper. You should be left with a thin rectangle of jaconde sponge with a pin stripe pattern across it. Leave to cool slightly.

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Finally, for the easy chocolate frosting, you’ll need: 150g softened butter, 400g icing sugar, 200ml double cream, 150g dark chocolate (melted), 4tbsp cocoa powder

Combine the butter and icing sugar, loosening with the double cream as you go along. Add the melted dark chocolate and the cocoa powder then whisk vigorously until smooth and workable.

Now, for the assemblage…

Cut your two chocolate sponges in half and layer on top of each other with a generous spreading of chocolate frosting between ( I only used three layers as I didn’t want to create a huge cake as it’s not for a special occasion!).

Cover the outside of the four layer (or three if you like) cake with frosting and smooth to the desired effect.

Now, cut your jaconde sponge into two long rectangles. Measure your cake to gage the exact dimensions you will need to cover the outside of it. I needed two 4.5x12inch shapes. Don’t worry if you cut your jaconde a little too large, you can always trim it.

Wrap the sponge rectangles around your frosted cake and press onto the sides to secure. Trim if necessary. Now, for a final flourish, pipe little stars of the remaining fudge icing all over the top and scatter with glitter.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Blackberry and Almond Mini-Cakes

Cakes

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Great British Bake Off viewers; cast your minds back to week one, challenge one and you might recall the miniature cakes the contestants were asked to produce. Well, today I sought inspiration from that very task and baked blackberry and almond sponges on a small scale. I do not have a sophisticated method when devising recipes, but I hope that isn’t reflected in the end resultĀ (my ideas today stemmed from the blackberries I’d just picked and I made the rest up as I went along)! If you’d like to try it, you will need:

110g self raising flour, 110g caster sugar, 110g butter (soft), 2 eggs, 2tsp almond extract, 1 cup blackberries, juice 1 lemon, 200g mascarpone, 100g icing sugar, 5tbsp apple sauce and extra blackberries for decoration (makes 10)

First of all, sift the flour and sugar together, add the butter, eggs and almond extract then mix until combined. Once mixed, fold in 2/3 of the blackberries whole. Let the mix settle whilst you carry out the next step.

Place the remaining blackberries in a pan over heat with a sprinkling of caster sugar and the juice of a lemon. Stir until boiling then sieve away the liquid (the jam-like blackberries you have left should be very soft and will cover the tops of the little cakes).

Take a silicone mould (or any small mould you have) and grease with butter. Place a teaspoon of the soft blackberries in the bottom of each hole then fill 2/3 full with the sponge mix. Bake for 15 minutes at 190 then leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make your mascarpone filling. For this, simply whisk the icing sugar with the cream and it’s done ( I added a little of the reserved blackberry liquid to give the pinkish hue but this is not necessary).

Once cooled, turn out each cake and cut in half. Spread a little apple sauce over the bottom layer, followed by a squirt of the mascarpone cream. Sandwich the two pieces together and decorate as you please.

Enjoy!

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