I attended a very beautiful 21st party recently. The kind with warm friends, great outfits and songs written especially for the birthday girl. Someone shouted “cake is love” before Candace cut the cake, and screamed; with a room full of people who adore her joining in.
Cake contains the kind of love that cut be portioned and shared, from plate to mouth to mouth. With receptive grins and crumb- cornered mouths and licking of icing off fingers.
I had a cake- making project coming up and I was feeling inspired. Efe is a cake- lover, a dark- chocolate lover; and the kind of person who generously shares her passions. She commissioned me to make the party centrepiece and I agreed, despite 7 looming academic pieces of work and all sorts of other little stresses hanging about my mind. I agreed because there is nothing as satisfying as
Googling chocolate cakes when you should be studying (thank you Sweetapolita, you are great.)
Going shopping and putting 2 kilograms of chocolate and 1kg of butter in your trolley.
Discussing cake making with Chef Jenny, and Thandi from next door.
Making a cake of three tiers that you know will be dismantled in minutes
The reward that comes with a chocolate- smattered/ pink/ silver dusted dirty apron
Watching the birthday girl’s face when she sees the sparkles and the pink fairy dust and the crowds of friends singing, and bursts into tears.
Before you start worrying that this is going to be a deeply emotional and teary post let me tell you that making this kind of cake requires brute physical strength. Well, ok, if you don’t have a whisk attachment for your mixer, that is. The rest is all quite sentimental and airy and fun.
Three tier Chocolate mud Cake with Raspberry Meringues
I adapted the cake recipe (very very barely) from The Essential Baking Cookbook,
The frosting is by Sweeta Polita, find the recipe here. I got the raspberry- jelly and freeze- dried berries idea for the meringues from Sweeta Polita, too, but adapted it according to the basic recipe I learnt at Silwood Kitchens.
Chocolate mud Cake
(I made this recipe three times, once for the middle layer, and then dividing the other two between a very large 26- 28 cm cake tin with a removable base, and a 20cm tin for the top one)
- 250g butter
- 250g dark chocolate, chopped (I used Cadbury’s dark)
- 3 tablespoons good instant coffee powder
- ¾ cup hot water
- 150g self- raising flour
- 150g plain flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 ¼ cups castor sugar
- 4 extra- large eggs
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ½ cup buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 22cm cake tin with a removable base with baking paper and a collar that extends about 4cm above the rim.
2. Place the butter, dark chocolate, water and coffee powder in a saucepan over low heat and leave to melt gently.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir in the castor sugar.
4. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs then combine with the oil and buttermilk. Mix into the dry ingredinets with a wooden spoon.
5. Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture, stirring as you go.
6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 ¾ hours. The smaller cake will take about an hour and the larger one at least 1 ½ hours. Test for doneness with a skewer- it should come out caked with a few moist crumbs.
7. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Dark Chocolate frosting
I used Rosie from Sweeta Polita’s recipe, as you will find it here under dark chocolate fudge frosting. I doubled the recipe and had a good bit of icing left over (see end of post)
It really is essential that you leave the chocolate to cool completely, else it will melt the butter and your bill will skyrocket. I used 2 slabs of Lindt 60 % dark chocolate, and Cadbury’s dark for the remainder.
I added ½ cup of
(that’s 1 cup for double the recipe) and I suspect that any other cream liquor such as Amarula will be delicious. Cape Velvet
One Wednesday night saw me come home from a drink across the road and pour out a whole bowl of Special K cereal into a bowl. My housemate’s eyebrow raised. She clearly thought I’d had a beer too many before I explained that I desperately needed freeze- dried raspberries and there were none to be purchased in Grahamstown except as inclusive with cereal. They add a delicious flavour to the meringues, although the batch I ended up using didn’t contain any (you can only buy so many boxes of cereal for purposes of obtaining the added sweets).
The recipe makes 2 large trays of meringues. I only used a few for the top, and served the rest alongside, packed in sweet little rows and dusted with icing sugar. They add a welcome crunch and contrast to the moist, fudgy cake.
- 3 extra- large egg whites
- Castor sugar, according to weight (no more than 210g)
- About ½ cup freeze- dried raspberries (optional)
- 1 (80g) pack of raspberry flavoured jelly powder (The Pick ‘n Pay brand gave the best results, as there aren’t too many synthetics in it)
- 1 very strong whisking arm or a mixer with a whisk attachment
- Preheat the oven to 110 C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or tinfoil.
- Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel or glass bowl and weigh.
- Now, you need double the amount in weight of sugar combined with jelly powder (so double the weight of the egg whites and subtract 80g for those less mathematically inclined). Measure it out.
- If you are using the freeze dried raspberries, then blend them with the sugar in a mixer until the sugar goes a pretty red colour. (Make a bit of extra red sugar for decorating, if you like)
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gradually start to add the sugar in a thin stream (it helps to have an assistant here). Whisk until the mixture is stiff and shiny.
- Pop big spoonfuls into a piping bag with an large open nozzle and carefully dot raindrop-ish blops onto the trays.
- Bake for about ½ hour, checking constantly. If your oven is as retarded as mine it might start to singe the bottoms and make them crack before they’re dry. If this is the case, turn the oven off after 20 minutes and leave them in there. But watch like a shark- spotter.
The top cake (if you made 3) will be too big, trim it down to small- saucer size. Hand out the offcuts to willing mouths or use them to fill up any dips caused by sinking centres.
Lather the cakes in the voluptuous icing, be generous. Slap it on and scrape it off, dipping your palette knife into hot water if you feel the need.
Use left over red sugar from the meringues to sprinkle on the tops of the cakes. If you haven’t any, just add some red food colour (powder) to a bit of icing sugar. I added silver and pink, too. Use a tea strainer to dust it over.
Using a fine brush, dust the meringues with silver food colouring, and maybe a touch of red.
Stack those bad boys on top of each other, topping with a few meringue cones.
Pop some sparklers in the top on the night if you fancy.
I used the left over icing to top some cupcakes a few days later, on Halloween, when the sumptuous cake- memory had sufficiently faded. Ok, my cupcakes weren’t scary despite the fact that I made the vanilla butter red (well, pink) with left over sugar. And I was planning to pipe some awful word on them, like… like. I don’t know. Horror. Freak show. Whatever. But my digsmates teased me (deservingly) and I decided to let the scariness slide and make them pretty. A normal vanilla mix studded with left- over chocolate chunks, with some icing smashed on top and a sprinkle of gold (Can you tell that I opened up my fairy- dust stash for the first time in a while? )
Share the love.