Archive | February, 2013

A very special birthday cake

7 Feb

As I have a lot of time on my hands and a very dear friend of mine recently had a birthday, I thought it only appropriate to spend a few hours making a pretty amazing birthday cake.

This cake is the cake of all cakes.  I’m not going to lie – it took many hours to make and I’m not sure I’ll make this cake on my own again.  Doesn’t sound great, does it!  But the result was so great, that if you can share the burden with one other, then it is 100% worth it.

I found this recipe in a magazine and it’s 5 layers.  It is also unassuming, as the decoration looks pretty good, but you have no idea what’s in store for you until you cut into it and take a slice.

I knew that this cake was pretty special, when another friend visited the birthday girl after consuming a French 3 course meal (so it was rich and he must have been very full), and yet he ate a huge piece of cake with his hands.  We had reserved a slice and wrapped it in a napkin for him to take home, but he couldn’t resist and consumed it within seconds.  Greedy, yes, but satisfying to watch as the tired baker!

For layer 1: the base
130 gr melted butter
360 gr digestive biscuits / sweet biscuits
80 gr golden syrup
For layer 2: the popcorn peanut crunch
150 gr crunchy peanut butter
95 gr caramelised popcorn (UK: Butterkist)
40 gr Crunchie bar (honeycomb chocolate bar)
2 gr salt
100 gr dark chocolate (+70% cocoa)
150 ml double cream
For layer 3 & 5: chocolate cake
165 gr unsalted butter, room temperature
200 gr golden caster sugar
100 gr light muscovado sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
20 gr dark chocolate (+70% cocoa), broken into pieces
120 gr milk (not skinny)
20 gr golden syrup
175 gr plain flour
50 gr cocoa powder
6 gr baking powder
4 gr salt
For layer 4: 150 ml whipping cream (or single cream)
For the icing / frosting: 
180 gr caster sugar
120 ml double cream
120 gr unsalted butter, chopped
200 gr cream cheese (some extra, see comments below)
For the decorations: 100 gr caramelised popcorn

First is the cake (which I actually made the night before).

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

Grease and line a 23cm springform tin with baking paper.  (I used a 21cm, as I don’t have a 23cm and discarded – into my mouth, I must confess – some of the excess mixture of each layer.  It seemed to work!  Although I did have a crazy sugar headache after assembling the cake)…

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar for a few minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (30 seconds, stir, 20 seconds, stir, etc…) with the milk and the golden syrup.  Make sure this mixture does not boil.  You want the chocolate just melted.

Slowly beat the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the sugar and butter mixture in the bowl, until just mixed.  Add the chocolate mixture in and once combined, pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes – until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.

Remove the outer ring and allow to cool on a wire rack.

As I made this the night before, I was able to use the same springform tin (as not every has two of the same shape).  Grease and line this tin again using the same method as above.

Now for the base.  In a food processor, whizz the biscuits to fine crumbs.

In a small pan, melt together the butter and golden syrup and then add to the crumbs.  Pour into the prepared tin and cover the base ensuring it’s even and flat and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

For the second layer, whizz all ingredients, except the chocolate and cream, in the food processor until there are small crumbs.  Melt the chocolate and cream together in the microwave (as above) and mix in with just 200 gr of the popcorn mixture.

Spoon this over the biscuit base, nice and flat and return to the fridge.

For the icing / frosting, heat the sugar in a pan over a low heat with just a splash of water.  Do not stir this while it is melting and turning into caramel.  You can brush some of the sugar that is on the side of the pan down with a wet pastry brush, but do not stir until it has turned into a nice amber (caramel) colour.

Add the cream very carefully (as this will splatter), then the butter and a large pinch of salt, whisking to combine all ingredients.  Allow this to cool and then add the cream cheese.  With the above recipe, I found that I needed extra cream cheese to make it a thicker consistency, so I would look at doing the same, if need be.

Just before assembling the cake, roughly chop the popcorn you are using for the decoration and whip the layer 4 cream until thick.

To assemble, cut the top of the chocolate cake a little, so you have a flat top and bottom and then slice it in half horizontally.

Take the base and peanut crunch out of the tin and place on a serving plate.  Spread a thin layer of the caramel icing / frosting.  Place one slice of chocolate cake on top.  Spread the whipped cream over this slice of cake and then top with the second chocolate cake.


Spread the remaining caramel icing / frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Cover this with popcorn until the entire cake is covered.  As you may see with the picture below, I didn’t manage to cover the entire top of the cake.  This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I continued my sugar binge above with caramel popcorn and realised at the end that I didn’t have enough….  You decide.  Enjoy!