With my mum’s birthday coming up, I decided to take on the yearly task of baking up a special birthday cake. I say yearly, but in fact it only became a tradition after I spent an entire day making a rainbow cake for her 50th last year. As we usually have family over to celebrate, it always feels like the prime time to roll up my sleeves and attempt to create a masterpiece. I’m comfortably familiar with the ins and outs of a classic vanilla sponge recipe, so this time opted for a rich and fudgy chocolate cake as oddly enough I’ve never once given one a go. I nabbed the recipe from bbc good food, except I made the slight alteration of making it two layers instead of three and I added summer fruits as a topping as they’re bang in season. I also decided to make a raspberry coulis (fancy huh) to pour over the slices of cake too, but it really is just as delicious on it’s own. I picked up the golden cake board and Happy Birthday cake topper from Hobbycraft, and the candles from Waitrose.
– Butter a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep) and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break 200g good quality dark chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Cut 200g butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate, then mix 1 tbsp instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave on Medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.
– While the chocolate is melting, mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in 75ml (5 tbsp) buttermilk.
– Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 25-30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
– When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally into two/three. Make the ganache: chop 200g good quality dark chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Pour a 284ml carton of double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, and heat until it is about to boil . Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
– Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. Decorate with fruit whilst chocolate is still unset. The cake keeps moist and gooey for 3-4 days.
If you want your cake to have an expert finish, I’d say first make a batch of 2/3 of the chocolate ganache recipe, cover the cake and leave to set, then add on a final layer to smooth out any imperfections. I was more than happy for my cake to have a homemade feel so wasn’t overly fussed about attempting something that resembled a bake off showstopper. All in all the cake turned out to be a real success and was surprisingly easy to make, making it both super pretty to look at, delicious to eat and doable to bake.