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Gone Dotty Chocolate Cake

A ‘spot’ of baking was in order for BBC Children In Need last week, and so emerging from my kitchen was a rather chocolatey offering.

Encasing a cocoa-enriched cake sandwiched with home-made damson jam was a creamy dark chocolate ganache, lavishly decorated with chocolate fingers, Maltesers and Smarties. If you’ve got the aforementioned treats lurking in your cupboard, this cake is one sure-fire way of putting them to a deliciously good use!

Gone Dotty Chocolate Cake

Gone Dotty Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

8oz golden caster sugar

8oz butter, softened

4 large eggs

6oz wholemeal self raising flour

2oz good-quality cocoa powder

For the filling:

A berry-flavoured jam of your choice

For the ganache:

100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

50g butter

1 heaped tablespoon golden syrup

For decorating:

A couple of tubes of Smarties

A large bag of Maltesers

A box of Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate Fingers – or two, if like me, you have a habit of munching on them!

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5 / 180 degrees / 160 fan. Grease and line 2 x 7-inch sandwich pans.

To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or beaters until light and creamy, to get maximum fluffiness for your effort and to save your arms from dropping off (wooden spoons are sooo last season!). Beat in an egg a time, accompanied by a tablespoon of the flour, until all the eggs are used up. Now carefully fold in the rest of the flour and cocoa powder using a metal spoon until combined, treating it like a delicate flower – this is how you end up with a light cake, so avoid beating the life out of it!

Divide the mix between the two pans and give them a good tap to level out the mix. Pop in the oven and bake for around 25-35 minutes, until a skewer or a cocktail stick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Ovens vary! Once cooked, allow to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, sandwich the two cakes together with your choice of jam in the middle (or Nutella if you fancy!).

Now it’s time to prepare the ganache. Be warned – this is a bit of a pesky one and can go from liquid to solid in about a minute, so you need to be ready to work fast! Have to hand a palette knife (for smoothing the ganache over the cake) and have all of your decorations lined up ready to stick on before it sets!

Here we go: melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a glass bowl over a barely simmering pan of water – don’t let the bowl touch the water! Stir well then allow to cool until it becomes thick – the test is when it falls of a spoon in a robust dollop as opposed to a thin pour. To speed things up, (as it can take a while to cool), I tend to pop the bowl in the fridge and take it out for a stir at 4-5 minute intervals.

When it’s at the stage that it can be spread without a) running down the side of the cake or b) going stiff to the point of unmovable, then coat the cake from the top down to the sides. If you go past the point of no return and the ganache has gone hard, simply pop the bowl in the microwave on defrost for 5 seconds and stir it until it gets to the right consistency again. It’s trial and error with this one, but well worth the attention! Smother with decorations in any design you wish – be arty and have fun! I like to put a chocolate finger ‘fence’ around the sides and a pretty pattern of spots on top, but feel free to go where the wind takes you with this one!

If you have any goodies left at the end, pop the kettle on, make a cuppa and eat them selfishly before the hubby or kids see them; you’ve earned it!

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The Mother of all cakes

So it was Mother’s Day last weekend, which brought with it a delicious roast leg of pork – the kind that melts in your mouth yet crackles to a teeth-busting crisp – alongside roasted potatoes, tart red cabbage and celebratory spring greens.

The day also yielded a sweet and oh-so-satisfying Mother’s Day cake, complete with fondant sunflowers and a baby-pink buttercream coating. Delectably divine to tuck in to and a dream to make.

‘The Mother of All Cakes’

For the sponge, you will need:

  • 10oz butter
  • 10oz light brown muscovado sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 10oz
  • Tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream, you will need:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 250g soft butter
  • Tbsp milk
  • Red food colouring

For the fondant flowers:

  • Ready-to-roll fondant icing in white and red – about a golf ball-sized piece of each
  • Flower-shaped presses/cutters

You will also need a 23cm springform tin, greased and lined

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5/180 degrees/160 fan.

To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding in a tablespoon of the flour after each addition. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour in a figure-of-eight motion using a metal spoon, until all the flour is combined. Add the vanilla extract and give it a final stir.

Place into the greased pan and bake on the middle shelf for approximately 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Ovens will vary, so I suggest you check at 30 minutes and then at subsequent 5 minute intervals. Once baked, allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the buttercream by beating the butter until fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat thoroughly throughout. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid or similar freestanding mixer, use the lowest setting when adding the icing sugar, otherwise your kitchen will be covered in a cloud of white!

Once all the sugar has been mixed in, add a tablespoon of milk to loosen and give it a good mix. Now add a drop of red food colouring and mix well to disperse – keep adding additional drops one at a time until you have the desired shade you’re after.

Ice the cake by spreading the buttercream in a thin layer over the top and sides, spreading it out evenly using a palette knife and avoiding any lumps and bumps. Set to one side. If you’ve any buttercream left over that you don’t intend to use straight away, pop it in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to three months!

Now roll out the white and red fondant icing separately to approximately the thickness of a 20p coin. Press the floral cutters down onto the icing firmly then transfer the cit-out flowers to a plate. It’s worth cutting out various sizes and stacking them on top of one another, sealing them together with a dab of water. To make the centre of the flowers, roll a little ball of icing and press on the top of the flowers, sealing with water. You can buy the cutters I used from Lakeland.

Sit the completed flowers on top of the buttercreamed cake in any pattern or design of your choice and you’re done!

Serve it with a smile to marvellous mums!

The Mother of all cakes