It’s my Mum’s birthday today and it’s become a bit of a tradition that I make everyone a cake for their birthday. Usually, I plump for the traditional birthday cake with a lemony sponge and a jam and buttercream filling. However, being in the midst of exam fever, I didn’t really have 2 evenings to dedicate to crafting sugar decorations, so I figured she’d be happy with a chocolate cake. It’s not very birthday cakeish, but I think they all forgot to care about that when they tasted it. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. Imagine a brownie, layered on top of another brownie and covered with ganache. And you’re just about there.
For the cake:
200g dark chocolate, 60%+ cocoa solids
200g salted butter
125ml brewed coffee
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g cocoa powder
85g plain flour
85g self-raising flour
For the filling:
25g soft butter
50g icing sugar
75ml double cream
75g white chocolate
1 orange (zest of whole orange and juice of 1/4)
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
6 tbsp jam, I used cherry
For the ganache:
200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
300ml double cream
2 tbsp golden syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 140C fan and prepare 2 sandwich tins by buttering then and lining with circles of grease proof paper. Work out which of your glass bowls fits best with which of your saucepans so that it can be suspended over a small amount of water in the saucepan to create a bain marie. Boil a little water and pour it into the saucepan on a hob which is set to a low heat. You want the water to summer but you don’t want it to bubble to the point that it touches the bottom of the bowl, as that would burn the chocolate. Break the chocolate up and add it to the bowl, then add the weighed butter. Leave it on the heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to melt.
2. Brew up some coffee. I measured out 125ml of freshly brewed espresso but you could mix 1tbsp of instant coffee granules with 125ml cold water. Add this carefully, little by little, to the melting mixture. If you add it too quickly it could cause the chocolate to seize. Once everything has melted and been mixed well, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
This cake takes much longer to bake than your average cake. It’s a lower, longer bake, but,unlike a brownie, you want it to be evenly cooked all the way through. I tend to bake by eye so I didn’t time this, but keep having a look at the sponges through the oven door. I think this took about 40 mins – the edges will rise and set, while the middle remains droopy but bubbly, eventually, the middle will start to rise, cracking as it does so, but it will still need set all the way through. Once it looks like it had fully risen and possibly set you can tentatively open the oven door and give it a gentle prod or test with a skewer. When the skewer is clean it can come out.
6. Make the white chocolate ganache filling by combining the softened butter and icing sugar. Warm the cream in a saucepan on the hob, but don’t let it boil. Break the white chocolate into the cream (off the heat) and grate in the orange zest. Stru until it had melted together and allow to cool to room temperature.
8. Remove the cakes from their tins and allow to cool.
9. Make the chocolate ganache by heating up the cream, as before, and breaking the dark chocolate into it. Add a pinch of salt and stir together until melted. Set aside to cool, stirring every now and then, until you have a glossy, smooth paste.
19. Sandwich together the soknges, spreading the bottom layer with jam then adding the white chocolate filling.
20. Spread the ganache all over the cake, starting from the top and working down. If everything’s cool enough it shouldn’t spill over the board…in theory! Decorate however you like, with chocolate shavings or curls. I tempered done white chocolate to make some squiggly designs to add to the top abs sides, then added some copper honeycomb sprinkles around the circumference.