Viewing entries tagged
icing

Triple Layer Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla Cake

Comment

Triple Layer Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla Cake

fullsizeoutput_848.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_809.jpeg

It’s on an almost daily basis that I find my thoughts converging on that scene in Matilda:  Bruce vs the chocolate cake – moist, dense, dark, and yes, revolting. It’s a tempting challenge, and only on a handful of occasions in my life have I come close to those chocolatey depths (or heights, depending on your perspective). 

fullsizeoutput_819.jpeg

The first time was at my 9th birthday party which took place in the civilized private room of a pottery painting shop, surrounded by friends from my all-girls school, all politely detailing their teacups with flowers, and hearts, and stars. The birthday cake arrived, tall and majestic, lavishly enrobed in sumptuous swathes of soft chocolate buttercream.

All I can say in mitigation of what was to come was that at least I waited until my slice was placed in a bowl. But then the urge became overpowering, and it was with unbridled joy that I plunged my face into my bowl and into the luscious embrace of the cake.

fullsizeoutput_886.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_832.jpeg

But my Bruce experiences don’t end there. I waited a further nine years until I was at university, when a five pence coin thrown into a neighbour’s dessert meant that it had to be devoured without cutlery. This was a curse to many, but an opportunity I wholeheartedly seized. Why waste time on cutlery when you can cut to the chase, pig-in-trough style, with an audience?  

fullsizeoutput_831.jpeg

The desire was mostly satisfied then but I still dream up opportunities to replicate it. I imagine this cake would be peak territory for such caveman antics: a base layer of moist and rich chocolate cake (ticks the Bruce box), a golden middle tier of coffee cake, and a fluffy vanilla sponge top tier. The buttercream is deeply chocolatey with a pinch of salt to counteract the sweetness, and the cake is topped with a mirror ganache drip glaze (easier to do than you may think). Nigella famously writes in her recipe: “Feeds twelve, or one with a broken heart”. This feeds twenty, or one with an overpowering Man vs Food, Matilda’s Bruce desire.

fullsizeoutput_87c.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_859.jpeg

Although this cake has multiple elements and steps it is not difficult to carry out.

  •  If you wish to have all three layers identical, then just triple the quantity of one cake.
  • Feel free to experiment with buttercreams as well (for example, vanilla, coffee, or caramel). 
  • Additionally, I use dark fruits to decorate the cake, but you can keep it plain, or venture down more chocolatey routes. It is also delicious kept simple, without the mirror chocolate ganache.
  • This is effectively three cakes in one so you can just make one of the cakes, and make a third of the icing in which to cloak it.
  • The chocolate cake recipe makes slightly more than necessary, hence the muffin cups into which the excess mixture is poured – a bonus in my book…

Ingredients

The vanilla and coffee cakes:

450g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk
8 large eggs, at room temperature
450g self-raising flour, sieved
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water

The chocolate cake:

400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50 high quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
140g soured cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted
125g corn or vegetable oil
300ml cold water

Salted cocolate buttercream:

250g high quality 70% dark chocolate
375g unsalted butter, at room temperature
680g icing sugar, sieved
½ tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla extract


Mirror chocolate ganache:

100g double cream
100g high quality 70% dark chocolate

Equipment:

3 (or 2 if you wash one up in between making vanilla/coffee and chocolate cakes) x 20cm diameter round cake tins, buttered, with the base lined with a circle of baking parchment
1 muffin tin with 5 muffin cases
piping bag fitted with a 2-3mm round nozzle


Method

The vanilla cake and the coffee cake:

1)    Preheat fan oven to 180C. In a large bowl with a spoon, or in a mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until the mixture turns fluffy, soft and almost white. Beat in the vanilla and milk.  
2)    Then beat in one egg at a time alternating each egg with a tablespoon of flour. Don’t panic if it looks slightly curdled, as this is normal. Add in the rest of the flour and salt and, by hand, gently fold them into the mixture.
3)    Pour half the mixture into one of the lined baking tins – this is the vanilla cake. For the coffee cake, add in the dissolved espresso powder into the remaining mixture and fold in gently. Pour into the second baking tin and place both in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. After 30 minutes, you may need to cover them with tinfoil to prevent the surface from burning. 
4)    Once cooked, remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

The chocolate cake:

1)    Preheat fan oven to 180C. Into a large bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients and mix through. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, soured cream and vanilla. 
2)    In a third, large bowl, either by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together oil, butter and water until combined. Into this bowl, pour the dry ingredients and fold gently to combine. Then pour in the egg, cream, vanilla mixture and fold gently together until smooth and just combined.
3)    Pour off 300g of the mixture into a separate bowl and divide equally between 5 muffin cases. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place muffins and large cake in the oven. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, and the large cake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check the large cake after 30 minutes, as you make need to cover it with tinfoil to prevent the surface from burning. Once cooked through, remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool.

The salted chocolate buttercream:

1)    Melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting on top of a pan of boiling water (don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl containing chocolate). Set the melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.
2)    In a mixer fitted with a paddle, or in a large bowl with a spoon, beat together the icing sugar and butter until combined. Pour in the melted chocolate, salt and vanilla, and beat once more until combined. 

The chocolate mirror ganache:

1)    Make this only once the cake is iced. Heat the double cream in a small pan over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Remove from heat immediately and stir in the chocolate until it has melted and both combine into a glossy ganache.

Assembly:

1)    The cakes should be of equal depth, so line the three cakes alongside each other and, with a long-serrated knife, slice the domes off each to make them even. I then place the cakes in the freezer for 10 minutes as it makes them easier to ice. 
2)    Place the chocolate cake on the stand on which you wish to serve the cake. This will be the bottom most layer. Place about a fifth of the icing mixture on top and spread it carefully with a spatula. Place the coffee cake directly on top and repeat, finally placing the vanilla layer on top. 
3)    At this point, if you are impatient, you can continue to ice the rest of the cake with the remaining buttercream, and proceed directly to stage 4.  If, however, you want to ice the cake perfectly, it is advisable to do a crumb layer. This involves placing another fifth of the buttercream on the top of the cake and using a spatula to spread it evenly in as thin layer as possible around the cake, coating and filling any irregularities or gaps so that the sides and top are totally smooth and flat. Once this is done, place the cake in the fridge for a further 30 minutes until the icing is slightly hard to the touch. Remove from the fridge, and place the remaining icing onto the top of the cake and use a spatula to spread it off the top and around the sides. I dip the spatula in hot water to help achieve a smooth result. Place the cake back in the fridge while making the ganache.
4)    Spoon a third of the ganache into the piping bag. Begin by drawing a line round the edge of the cake surface as a border. Then to make a drip, hold the piping bag very still with the nozzle pointing directly down, and put consistent pressure on the bag to allow the drop to fall from the edge down the side of the cake. Stop when the drip is nearly at the length you want. Continue along the edge of the cake making drips of different lengths. Once this is done, pour the remaining ganache onto the top of the cake and spread with a spatula to cover the surface. 
5)    Top with dark fruits or any decoration of choice, and serve. 

All cake recipes are adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake and Victoria Sponge Cake recipes

fullsizeoutput_879.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_876.jpeg

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comment

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

1 Comment

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

IMG_4523.jpg

 How to bake and stay (reasonably) in shape. Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

I am often asked how it is that I am not obese.  I am by no means super skinny, but people wonder how I avoid rolling around the place when I am seemingly baking the whole time and have little resistance to delicious things.  So, here’s my secret.  Have a go.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

 

What I need: a running machine; a radio; an oven; a timer

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

What I do:

Pour the batter into the cake tin, lovingly smooth the surface over with a spatula. One lick of the spatula before it goes in the sink (just a little indulgence). Carefully open the oven door, and bend down slowly so that the batter remains level.  Place the cake tin tenderly on the rack. Set the oven timer.  22 minutes.  Then GO.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

Run up the stairs, two at a time.  That’s one minute either side to rush back down.  Turn up the radio. Leap on to the treadmill, and run. 10 mph minimum. 20 mins to go.  Sweat, pound, sweat.  15 mins.  Beyoncé’s screaming.  Oven beeps.  Run back down (Beyoncé’s mumbling). Open oven door, skewer the cake.  Damn - not cooked. Rip out a sheet of tin foil. Cover the cake.  Burn hand.  Set timer: 7 mins more.  Repeat process until skewer comes out clean.  Place cake on rack and allow to cool.

Stretch and shower.

Hover over the cake with a knife.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

You can make the cake sans-icing by simply halving the recipe and, before serving, dusting with a little icing sugar.Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

 

Ingredients

Cake

200g butter, at room temperature

170g caster sugar

30g light brown muscovado sugar

2 tbsp ground coffee

¼ tsp salt

70g toasted walnuts, ground to a fine sand

4 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp instant coffee, dissolved in as little hot water as possible to make a smooth paste

240g self-rising flour, sieved

2 x 8 inch cake tins, greased and with bases lined with a circle of baking parchment

 

Coffee Syrup

40g golden syrup

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp instant coffee

100ml boiling water

 

Coffee Icing

300g butter, at room temperature

450g icing sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla

2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in as little hot water as possible to make a smooth paste

¼ tsp salt

 

Caramelised walnuts

60g walnuts

2 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Using an electric mixer, or with a vigorous hand, in a large bowl beat together the butter, caster sugar, muscovado, ground coffee and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla and dissolved instant coffee. Beat this into the butter-sugar-coffee-salt mix.  Once combined, stir in the ground walnuts.
  3. Finally, gently fold the sieved flour into the mixture, being careful not to overbeat. Divide the mixture between the two tins and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes (checking after 20) or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. While the cakes are baking, make the coffee syrup. Dissolve the instant coffee in the water and pour into a small pan along with the syrup and sugar.  On a medium high heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly to the consistency of maple syrup.
  5. Remove cakes from oven. Stab them all over with a cake tester or skewer, and spoon the syrup equally over the two cakes.  Set aside on a rack and allow to cool.

Icing

  1. Beat together butter and icing sugar. Once combined, beat in the vanilla, coffee and salt.
  2. Remove the cakes from tins, place one on the serving plate and spread ¼ of the icing on its surface. Place the other cake on top and spread the icing evenly over the cake.

Caramelised Walnuts

  1. In a shallow pan, over a medium-high heat, stir together water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Then pour in the walnuts, and continue to stir and coat them until all the water has evaporated.  Decant them on to a sheet of baking parchment, and allow them to cool.
  2. Once cool, chop roughly, and scatter as desired over the cake.

Triple Coffee & Caramelised Walnut Cake

1 Comment

Salted Caramel-filled Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies

3 Comments

Salted Caramel-filled Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies

IMG_9341.jpg

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies I blame salted-caramel for my short-sightedness.  At the end of morning assembly, when I was five years’ old, the headmistress would read a prayer.  Every one of us would dutifully lower her head and shut her eyes.   I pressed mine tightly closed with my hands until, like some computer generated visualiser, semi-hallucinogenic patterns appeared.  Well, mainly one pattern: a recurrent drop of molten gold slipping seductively into its glistening pool, creating ripples that seemed to extend to the corners of dark space behind my eyelids.  I found the effect narcotic, and would do this without fail every morning.

I now realise that the real-life equivalent to that voluptuous liquefied gold is salted caramel: fudgy, creamy slick, viscous and dangerously addictive, I’m obsessed.

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Too often it drenches and drowns all other culinary thoughts and ideas I have, but to resist its ambrosial pull is futile.  So, instead, I have decided to partner it with its already well-established acquaintance - chocolate.  That’s not to say that these cookies are in any way ordinary.

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Most shop bought packets of chocolate cookies are filled with empty promises, often dry, floury, over sodium bicarbonated, and rock solid.

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

I have a friend who has developed and perfected the “cookie-pinch”.  Her forefinger and thumb clamp down on unsuspecting biscuits in their paper wrapping.  The motion is swift and discreet, but in that split second the pads of her well-attuned digits estimate the freshness of the cookie to the nearest hour.

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

These chocolate biscuits, however, are crisp, rich, chewy and soft, and cushioned by their silky smooth salted caramel filling, rendering my friend’s admirable skill totally redundant.

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

Ingredients

Cookie

200g dark chocolate, chopped

40g unsalted butter

2 eggs

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

35g plain flour, sifted

¼ tsp baking powder, sifted

¼ tsp salt

 

Salted caramel frosting

165g white caster sugar

60ml water

125ml single cream

150g unsalted butter, chopped

250g icing sugar, sieved

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

 

2 baking trays, lined with baking parchment

Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C
  2. Melt chocolate and butter together in a small pan over a low heat until only just melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
  3. In an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes smooth and slightly thicker.
  4. Gently fold in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture.  Once combined, fold in the sieved flour, baking powder and salt until just combined and let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop the mixture, 1 tablespoon per biscuit on to the baking trays leaving 5cm between them as the mixture will spread.
  6. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until shiny and cracked. Allow to cool on trays.

Salted caramel icing

  1. Stir together sugar and water in a pan over a high heat until sugar has dissolved. Allow to bubble up for about 5-10 minutes until it turns a deep burnished gold.  Don’t be afraid to let it turn quite rusty in colour – the deeper in colour you dare to go (without it burning) the more depth of flavour.
  2. As soon as it gets to the above stage pour in cream and butter and whisk immediately and continuously over the high heat until fully combined. If the sugar crystallises, don’t panic.  Keep whisking over a high heat until it melts once more.
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool. You can place it in fridge, or freezer, or, if you’re greedy and impatient, you can place the pan in an ice water bath and stir until cool.  I opt for the latter option.
  4. Beat together caramel, icing sugar, vanilla and salt until combined.
  5. Sandwich the cookies together using 2 tbsp of the icing (or more depending on how caramel-crazed you are).

Salted caramel-filled chewy chocolate brownie cookies

 

 

(adapted from Donna Hay)

3 Comments