Tag Archives: Cake

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
 
(whew!)
 

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.

DSC_5565

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!

DSC_5568

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Easy Brioche loaf recipe

22 Mar

The first time I had brioche was in a very cheap hotel in the outskirts of Paris.  It was over 10 years ago and I just thought it was “fancy” toast and I ate about 6 slices every breakfast for the 4 days I stayed there.  I didn’t realise what I was eating until a few years later when a friend of mine introduced me to their “cake bread”.  Ah, that’s what it’s called.  We were both wrong, but right at the same time.

I looked at a few recipes as I was keen for eggy bread / french toast and brioche is the best way (“healthy” way, just how I like it) to enjoy a Sunday brunch at home.  Unfortunately, quite a few of the recipes I found were quite involved, included ingredients that I didn’t have and I’m a big fan of not leaving the house on a Sunday.  Then I found the below recipe.  It took about 5 minutes to get it into the oven.  A little crumbly once cooked – however I was trying to slice it while it was still warm and burning my hands, so if I allowed it to cool, I may not have had the same problem.

175 gr plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
175 ml crème fraîche
1 egg, beaten
30 gr caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
another egg or a little milk to glaze

Turn the oven on to 180 C / 350 F.  Grease a brioche tin or I just used a bread loaf tin, with butter.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and then stir in the crème fraîche.  Add the egg, sugar and salt and mix into a soft dough (I used my hands once it was all combined).  Place the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and glaze with another beaten egg or some milk and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Layer Cake

7 Mar

 So it’s my partner’s birthday and for the first time ever, I’ve decided to bake him a birthday cake instead of buying one.  This is my first ever birthday cake and I am a little nervous.

I have been baking for a couple of months now, so I have learnt not to substitute ingredients ever (in these early stages until I understand the science) and to measure absolutely everything perfectly, so I’m hoping this cake will work out well.

I did ask my partner which cake he would like and of course, he chose the most difficult one I have in any of my cookbooks – which includes cutting 2 thin cakes into halves – mmmm.

I must confess, I did start baking this cake a little cocky.  Being a big fan of cooking shows and boring my partner endlessly with them (he has mentioned more than once that even hearing them gets him a little frustrated now, whoops), I have seen that these chefs easily crack an egg with one hand.  As they make it look really easy and I had to crack 3 eggs into the bowl with the egg beater on – so I thought I would give it a go.  Ah.  Yeah.  Not so easy.  I managed to crush an entire egg in my hand and drop some of the eggshell into the bowl.  Not a great start.  I had to quickly turn the egg beater off and out the shells before they were blended into the mix.  Probably should practise that one before doing it for real with a special birthday cake!

 Happy Birthday!

CAKE
2 1/2 cups (375 gr) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 gr dark chocolate
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
3/4  cup (180 gr) butter
1 3/4 cups (150 gr) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) plain yoghurt
FILLING
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy / double cream
3 tablespoons confectioners / icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (250 gr) raspberry jam
FROSTING
350 gr dark chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (225 gr) confectioners / icing sugar

Turn oven on to 350 F / 180 C.  Butter two 9 inch / 23 cm round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper and butter again.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave (30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds stir, etc).  Set chocolate aside to cool.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer / egg beater on medium speed until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating until just blended.  Turn the mixer / beater on low speed and slowly add the melted chocolate.  Then add the yoghurt and the dry ingredients.  Divide into the two pre-prepared cake tins.

Bake until cooked for 30 – 40 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling racks.

For the filling: with the mixer / beater on high speed beat all ingredients together until stiff.

For the frosting: Melt the chocolate using the same method as before.  Quickly stir in the sour cream and sugar, not allowing the mixture to cool too much as it will become stiff and difficult to spread.

Assembly: Cut the horizontally.  Place one layer on a serving plate.  Spread with one-third of the raspberry jam and layer of frosting.  Spread one-third of the cream.  Repeat with the remaining cake layers.  Top with a plain cake layer. 

Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting. 

The cake didn’t last very long at the party in a London pub….Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Cake

16 Feb

After the failed attempt at baking pastry, I decided to go back to basics for my next recipe.

 As I have mentioned previously, my bookcase is bulging with cookbooks and much to my partner’s disgust, I chose a recipe from the BBC food website instead.  Problem is that most cookbooks don’t have a basic chocolate cake recipe.  They all have fancy frosting or 4 layers or some other difficult technique and I wanted something very basic to start with.  So this simple chocolate cake is what I went for.

 And simple it was.  Just everything in a bowl, mix and bake.  This is the kind of baking I can do!  For the actual cake, I was really proud, as I didn’t change one single ingredient and I measured everything – which is a first for me!  Probably why it worked…..

It was really moist as well.  A fantastic cake recipe.

 225 gr plain flour
350 gr caster sugar
85 gr cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda / baking soda
2 eggs
250 ml milk
125 ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 ml boiling water
 
For the chocolate ganache (icing / frosting)
200 gr chocolate (I used a mixture of dark & milk)
200 ml double cream

Turn oven on to 180 C / 350 F.  Grease & line two 20cm / 8 inch sandwich tins.  I just used butter and greaseproof paper.

Mix all cake ingredients, except the boiling water.  Whisk together and then slowly add in the boiling water.  The mixture will be very liquid.

Divide the mixture into the two tins and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.  Allow to cool.

For the ganache melt both the cream and chocolate together in a pot over a very low heat until the chocolate is melted.  Ensure it is mixed well and glossy.  Allow this to cool for a couple of hours until it’s become a spreadable consistency.  Once it had cooled somewhat, I actually put it into the refrigerator for a while.

Spread a good amount of the ganache over the top of both the cakes.  Place one on top of the other on a serving plate and cover the rest of the ganache over the entire cake using a palette knife.  Enjoy!