Decadent Chocolate Birthday Cake

So it’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow, and she is a complete chocoholic. I knew that her cake had to be chocolate, but I wanted to make it amazing, so I have added a few special touches to make it into a celebration cake.

Decadent Chocolate Birthday Cake
You need:

SPONGE:
225g/8oz butter
225g/8oz sugar
4 eggs
200g/8oz self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50-75g/2-3oz cocoa powder, sifted
GANACHE ICING:
175g/6oz dark chocolate
60ml/2 floz double cream
60g/2oz butter
1 egg yolk
BUTTERCREAM:
75g/3oz butter
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz icing sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy (a couple of minutes good beating in a kitchenaid or by hand should do the trick). Crack in the eggs and mix in (maybe 2 at a time?). Whack in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa powder and mix until you have a lovely smooth cake batter. Allow yourself a lick, and pour equal amounts into two 8 inch cake tins (lined and greased).

2) Bake the sponges for about 35 in the oven, a skewer should come out clean, and the cake should spring back like a boomerang -well almost- if you touch the surface. Cool completely. Place one of the sponges on a cooling rack over a plate.

3) Make the ganache by warming the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan until they have melted into a silky chocolatey pool. Cool slightly, then beat the butter in, in small amounts. Finally mix in the egg yolk and leave to cool until firmer.

4) Pour some of the ganache over the sponge and spread with a palette knife. Make sure it doesn’t quite reach the edges, or it will all ooze out when you put the other sponge on top. Then place the other sponge on top and pour the rest of the ganache over this. Spread out to the edges with a palette knife; it should run down the sides and drip onto the plate under the rack. Then smooth the sides and top and leave to set.

5) For the buttercream, whisk the butter, milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a bowl with a handheld electric whisk (don’t add all the icing sugar at once though, otherwise you will have a cloud of icing sugar coating everything and swirling in your throat). Whisk until pale and a smooth, thick consistency (if too thick, add a splash more milk).

6) Then spoon into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle. Pipe little flowers around the edge of the cake and you could write a message in the middle. Decorate with chocolate shavings or whatever you like.

This is such a delicious cake, but also works if you halve the amount ganache and put chocolate buttercream in the middle, with a teaspoon of orange extract/orange zest for a grown up twist. Then pour the ganache on top of the cake – this is one of my favourite cakes.

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