Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Hi! It's been a while. Even though I promised it wouldn't be. Then again, I think we've realised through the duration of this blog that my blogging promises mean very little. Ah well. I had a birthday! I turned 19!! I feel old. 19 isn't very old, but it's the last year I can call myself a 'teenager', and 20 sounds very old and grown-up, which I'm not ready to be. At least I've got another year to get my head around it before I actually turn 20! Anyway, this cake - I wanted something big, cool, and calorific for my 19th, so I decided to make a 5-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, marshmallow icing and Katherine Sabbath-inspired decorations.

The first step consisted of making the chocolate bark. I melted some dairy milk, spread it out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, mixed some melted white chocolate with pink food colouring and dolloped that on, sprinkled on some 'eton mess' mix I found in sainsbury's (basically small bits of meringue and dried raspberries), and put it in the fridge. Very simple.

After the bark was made, I moved onto the cake. Some may say this is the best part. I'm inclined to agree. I baked 5 layers (well, 6, but I dropped one...) of moist, dense chocolate cake, and left it overnight to settle. It makes it a lot less crumbly and much easier to work with when it's been allowed time to set!

I sandwiched the layers together with chocolate frosting, one of the most amazing substances ever to be invented. I ate half of the mix before it even made its way to the cake.

For the outside of the cake, I used Primrose Bakery's marshmallow icing recipe. The quantity was just enough to cover the cake, but it really could have done with a bit more (oops). I smashed into the chocolate bark with a knife to create shard-like blocks, and stuck them into the cake with maltesers propping them up - any excuse to put more maltesers on a cake! I decorated the outside with a ring of maltesers, and then threw 100s & 1000s around the base. Finally, lashings of edible glitter were added as the finishing touches. 

I then promptly dropped something into the front of the cake, leaving a dent and a quick patching up exercise. I managed to do this before photos were taken on the good camera, hence the number of side shots and iPhone photos. That was a lot of birthday drama! I think the rubber duck candles more than make up for the ruined icing though!

Recipe - makes enough for a good three days of cake-eating/serves at least 10:

Cake - per 2 layers:
  • 6oz caster/soft brown sugar
  • 6oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.5oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until well combined. Don't worry if the mixtures curdles, it will all be rectified with the addition of flour.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  5. Fold it in gently, until all incorporated.
  6. Halve the mixture between the two baking tins.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool, preferable overnight if you want to have a crumb-free icing experience.
Chocolate buttercream - I never weigh out my icing measurements because I prefer just to add things until I get the right consistency, but here is my mum's icing recipe (which is basically the exact same one I use!)

Enough to fill 5 layers of cake:

  • 400-450g icing sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 100g soft butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk to mix
  1. Sift 400g icing sugar and the cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the butter and two tablespoons of milk. 
  3. Mix well with a large spoon or electric whisk, adding more milk if necessary to make a soft, smooth, spreadable buttercream. 
  4. Taste and adjust the flavour, adding more sifted icing sugar and/or cocoa powder if needed.
Marshmallow icing:
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Food colouring of choice.
  1. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, golden syrup and water on a high heat until it reaches soft ball stage (the mixture, when a small amount is dropped in cool water, should ball together to form a squishy, not hard ball).
  2. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks when the beater is removed.
  3. Slowly whisk the sugar mixture into the egg whites.
  4. Continue beating until thick and smooth.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add food colouring, until desired concentration has been reached.