Thursday, 25 October 2012

Extra special chocolate layer cake

As a rather lazy baker, I tend to prefer recipes that call for few ingredients and simple instructions. So if I had read the recipe fully before starting this chocolatey scrumpster, then if I'm honest, I may well not have bothered. But that would have been a major loss.

Although this cake takes a little extra time and care than your average chocolate layer cake, it's really very much worth it. this cake is perfect or a social occasion, and it really shows that you care. It's rich but light, moist, delicious, and you can taste that extra bit of care and attention that go into it. Plus, it freezes like a dream, so if you're feeling inspired, you can make a double batch and have one on standby. Not bad, eh?!

The sponge recipe itself is adapted from the Chocolate Layer Cake recipe in Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery. I have written the ingredients as listed in the book, and put my adaptations in brackets afterwards. Although the book recommends sandwiching the cake with chocolate or vanilla buttercream, I decided to be a little naugtier, and decided to go for a thick and delicious ganache instead. The plus points of the ganache are that it travels well if you're taking the cake to a party, and as mentioned earlier, it freezes and defrosts rather wonderfully, as long as you wrap it tightly in clingflim first.
Extra Special Chocolate Layer Cake
For the sponge:
230g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids (I used 200g of 50% cocoa solids)
170g unsalted butter, softened
350g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated, 370g plain flour, sifted
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 tsp salt
500ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature (I soya milk, and only 400ml because my chocolate had a lower percentage of cocoa solids than the original recipe recommended)
2tsp vanilla extract
For the ganache:
200ml double cream
250g dark chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
25g butter
1. For the sponge, break the chocolate into pieces and melt over a bain-marie, or in a microwave on a low setting. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks for several mminuted and then slowly add into the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well. Then slowly add in the cooled, melted chocolate to this mixture, continuing to beat well.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, add the vanilla to the milk. Add one third of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat well, then pour in a third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all of the flour and milk are incorporated.
5. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites with and electric whisk until sot peaks start to form. Then carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon.
Note: You need to do this carefully so you don't knock all of the air out of your whipped egg whites. The best way to do so, is by gently using a figure-of-eight motion to fold in the egg whites.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between two lined 20cm (8-inch) cake tins. You'll need fairly deep tins for this.
7. Bake for about 30mins in an overn preheated to 190 degrees celcius (170 degrees celcius fan/gas mark 5).
8. When the cakes are ready, leave them to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
9. Once the cakes are completely cool, you can sandwich them together and cover in ganache. Add the butter and milk to a saucepan and heat, stirring continuously. When the mixture begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate, broken into pieces, and keep stirring until the chocolate has completely melted in.
10. Let the ganache cool for about 5 minutes, so that it starts to thicken slightly and is easier to handle. Use a long palette knife to spread a layer of ganache over each of the cake layers. Allow it to soak in slightly, and when it is safe to handle, sandwish the cakes together, ganache sides together. Finally, cover the top and sides of the cake in the remaining ganache and allow to cool and set.
This makes a really rather maginificent and quite grown-up celebration cake that is guaranteed to go down a treat! I have baked this to celebrate my friends' recent engagement, to feed hungry housewarming attendees, and as a 'welcome home' cake. It's genuinely perfect for all occasions!