As this is a We Should Cocoa anniversary, I wanted to do something a little bit special. I also had a cake to make for a friend. I knew I wanted to use the chocolate blackberry jam I made a couple of weeks ago; it’s not only rather special but seasonal too. Leafing through some of my baking books, I came across Ruth Clemens’ Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe in her book, The Pink Whisk guide to Cake Making. The recipe looked good and as we are all in the throws of the Great British Bake Off, it seemed rather appropriate as Ruth was one of the finalists back in 2010.
I decided to follow the recipe for the cake batter and the ganache, but not the buttercream as I was going to use jam. I halved the ganache recipe and changed the cake recipe a little – I just can’t help it! I attempted feathering for the first time using the leftover blackberry white chocolate ganache from the blackberry puddings recipe I have yet to post.
This is how I made:
- Measured 220ml milk into a jug and added 2 tbsp of malt vinegar to make a quick version of sour milk. Gave it a stir and left to coagulate.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 300g light Muscovado sugar and 30g of Molasses sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs (large hens eggs can be substituted) one at a time.
- Sieved in 200g plain flour, 80g self-raising flour, 60g cocoa powder (I used Food Thoughts fairtrade & organic), 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional – gives a slight caramel flavour).
- Folded in alternately with the soured milk.
- Spooned the mixture into 2 7″ oiled baking tins and 3 small rectangular silicone moulds filling them to about 3/4 full.
- Left to cool in the tins, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Brought 140 ml of cream to the boil in a small pan with 1/2 tbsp golden syrup.
- Added 175g of 53% dark chocolate and left for a couple of minutes.
- Stirred until well mixed and smooth.
- Sandwiched the large cakes together with chocolate blackberry jam.
- Topped with the ganache.
- Piped lines of white chocolate ganache on top and then used a tooth pick to feather the lines – or at least attempted too.
- Cut the mini cakes in half, sandwiched with the jam then topped with the ganache.
The batter rose so well, that it annoyingly overflowed, which was not quite what I was looking for. The mixture was also a little fragile, so needed to be handled quite carefully when still warm. It was, however, very light and quite delicious. CT, who wasn’t party to the intricacies of the creation, was quite taken by the unexpected pleasure of the blackberry jam cunningly secreted in the middle – ooh he said.
So enamoured was I with the chocolate, lemon curd and strawberry combination after I made these chocolate waffles, that I knew immediately that was what I would use for my birthday cake last week. What I didn’t then know was that I would add pomegranate to the mix.
When I was sent some pomegranate juice drink from The Simply Great Drinks Co, I thought it would make a fabulous addition to my cake. And so it proved to be. Neither CT nor I are particularly keen on sweet drinks and this did taste very sweet. However, we found that a dilution of one third juice to two thirds water suited us very well; it tasted good and was particularly refreshing during hot days. It made for a rather tasty cocktail too – recipe to follow. In fact I only just managed to nab some for my cake before it ran out. The pomegranate flavour was to the fore and the colour was deep and jewel-like. With pomegranates trending as the latest superfood, consuming some has to be a good thing. However, it must be said that PomeGreat, as this drink is called, contains only 30% pomegranate juice. The rest is made up of water and other fruit juices from conentrate.
As some of you may remember, I carried out a cocoa powder tasting trial some time ago. It was Food Thoughts organic and fair-trade cocoa that came out best. Food Thoughts is available in Sainsbury’s, but is not stocked by the Co-op or anywhere else in Liskeard, so I don’t get to use it very often. Luckily, Food Thoughts kindly sent me a couple of pots recently, so it was this cocoa I used in my birthday cake.
On the day, friends hosted an afternoon tea party for me that ended up lasting long into the evening. It was a jolly affair and it even stopped raining long enough to have a walk around their beautiful garden and to spend half an hour sitting out on their newly created terrace. I did much of the baking for the occasion including the gooseberry mini cakes that have already featured. Surprisingly, the most popular bake of the day turned out to be some little muffins made from the gleanings of a weeding session down at the plot. They were modelled on this recipe for carrot and beetroot muffins, only I used tender leafy greens instead of the carrots and beetroot and omitted the cocoa powder. Greens, walnuts and goat’s cheese is a winning combination I found. I also made brownies, peanut butter cookies and madeleines. My friend made sandwiches, quiches and scones, so we had a veritable feast.
The cake went down a storm. No surprise, with its tangy fruity creamy combination it encapsulated summer. The chocolate cake itself was succulent with a light but substantial sponge that was infused with a hint of pomegranate.
A couple of days after my birthday when this cake had long since disappeared, my mother turned up with another birthday cake. Lucky me. I don’t get cakes made for me very often, so I was quite delighted. It was a well textured light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan beneath the icing and although very different, it was equally delicious.
I am sending this off to Emily over at A Mummy Too for her Recipe of the Week.
It also goes to Cook Blog Share with Lucy over at SuperGolden Bakes.
Tasty Tuesdays gets a look in too with Vicki at Honest Mum.
This also goes off to Jenny over at Mummy Bakes Cakes for July’s Celebration Cakes and Bakes.
- 225g unsalted butter
- 225g dark brown sugar
- 1 heaped tbsp golden syrup
- 4 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
- 225g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 50g cocoa powder (I used Food Thoughts)
- 60g ground almonds
- 150ml pomegranate juice
- 200ml double cream
- 4 heaped tbsp lemon curd
- 300g strawberries – hulled and quartered
- 20g dark chocolate – shaved
Yield: 12 servings
It was time to make a cake for my wonderful mother for Mothering Sunday. The question was, what cake to make? Simnel cake is traditional for this Christian festival which falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was a day’s reprieve from the Lenten fast and domestic servants were given the day off to visit their mother church. This meant being able to spend time with their families and specifically their mothers. These days Simnel cake is more closely associated with Easter, but the old tradition of baking a cake and picking flowers for our mothers lives on.
With spring in the air, a cake with a floral theme seemed appropriate. I happened to have some lavender chocolate in the house and although lavender isn’t exactly spring like, it is floral. So a chocolate lavender cake it was going to be. Excitingly, it is the season for goose eggs and I had bought one especially to make my Mother’s Day cake. Goose eggs have a very short season, so I pounce upon them with glee whenever I see them in the spring. They are very large and have a whopping yolk, so are excellent for baking – they roughly equate to three large hens eggs. I scattered the cake with edible red dust, pink hearts and lavender flowers. Sadly most of the flowers all blew off in the wind when I took the cake outside to photograph it, but I reckon the hearts say it all anyway.
I made the cake yesterday and am off to deliver it later this afternoon along with a bunch of primroses and a card.
Update 31 March
The cake was sensational. I was really pleased with it and more to the point so was my mother. The lavender flavour was good without being overpowering and the cake was beautifully light.
I am sending this over to Emily’s #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too.
- 1 tbsp lavender flowers
- 125ml hot water
- 150g unsalted butter
- 175g sugar (half caster, half dark muscovado)
- a pinch sea or rock salt
- 40g cocoa powder
- 175g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
- 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 85g ground almonds
- 1 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt
- 80g dark lavender chocolate (70%)
- 70g unsalted butter
- 1 heaped tsp Cornish honey
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 1 goose egg (or 3 large eggs)
Yield: 1 8″ cake
My mother asked me back in November (oh dear where does the time go?) if I would make a cake for her. She volunteers at her village community centre and wanted the cake as a leaving and thank you present for her boss. I knew it was time to make Ruth Clemens’ (aka The Pink Whisk) Tiramisu Cake. This is not a natural choice for me as I am in a small minority of non-coffee lovers. However, I do know it is considered to be one of the most popular flavours ever and I have supporting evidence. When The KitchenMaid chose coffee as the We Should Cocoa special ingredient, we had a record number of entries and Lucy had to do the round-up in two parts. Tiramisu, everyone assures me, is a delicious dessert, so transformed into cake form, how could it fail to please? That was my reasoning anyway.
Ruth is one of those bakers whose recipes I trust. I’ve made a number of her bakes and not once has she let me down. However, as I am completely incapable of following a recipe, I did make a few adaptations. As it was meant to be tiramisu, I used cream cheese in the icing. I wanted to use the classic mascarpone, but when I went down to our local co-op, I found it had stopped selling it, which was mighty annoying. I had to make do with Philadelphia instead. I didn’t cover the cake with ganache either as I wanted the contrast between the chocolate and cream colours to stand out. I reduced the amount of icing sugar in the icing and also used slightly less sugar in the cake.
This is how I made:
- Brewed a strong batch of filter coffee and left to cool.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 250g soft brown sugar and 70g dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 260g flour (100g wholemeal, 100g white, 60g self-raising white), 70g cocoa and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in gently, alternating with 220 ml of sour milk.
- Added 4 tbsp of the cooled coffee and stirred until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between 2 x 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes until the cakes were well risen and an inserted skewer came out clean.
- Left to cool for ten minutes, then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Creamed 60g unsalted butter with a couple of large spoonfuls from 250g icing sugar.
- Beat in 100g cream cheese, then slowly added the rest of the icing sugar.
- Added 1 tbsp Marsala and 3 tbsp strong coffee. Beat until all smooth and a good spreading consistency achieved.
- Spread one cake with half the mixture, placed the other cake on top and topped with the remaining icing.
- Sprinkled with whatever chocolate bits I could lay my hands on.
I wasn’t expecting it to turn out to be such a stonker of a cake, but petite it was certainly not. CT was rather upset to find his tasting services were not required; unlike me, he enjoys coffee flavoured cakes. Nevertheless, the feedback I received via my mother was very positive and was most gratifyingly demonstrated by an empty plate.
I’m sending this off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays
I’m also entering this into Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too.
Time to visit the land of the Hampshire Hogs. It was my mother in law’s 80th Birthday and a cake was called for. She has quite a sweet tooth and is not a fan of dark chocolate so when I saw a recipe for orange poppy seed cupcakes in the Australian book High Tea; recipes with a sense of occasion, I decided to adapt this into cake form with the addition of white chocolate, both in the cake batter and the buttercream.
When it came to decorating, I wanted something simple with the numbers 8 and 0 standing out boldly. CT cut some templates for me out of greaseproof paper with the idea of laying them over the cake and scattering bling over the rest. A good idea, but sadly, this didn’t have quite the desired effect and the figures were a little hard to decipher. One wag likened it to a face with a moustache – it wasn’t meant to be an advertisement for Pr**gles, you know, but I was hoping that just like the tubular snacks, once this was started, we’d be unable to stop.
This is how I made:
Orange, Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Cake
- Measured 150ml sour milk into a jug and added 40g poppy seeds. Stirred and left for a while.
- Melted 40g vanillary white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 170g caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the grated zest of an organic orange.
- Beat in the white chocolate.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs, one by one.
- Sifted in 190g self-raising flour and stirred this in as gently as possible.
- Gently stirred in the milk and poppy seeds until just incorporated.
- Divided the batter between two 20 cm silicone moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a cake tester came out clean.
- Melted 60g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter together with 300g icing sugar and the grated zest of an organic orange.
- Beat in 1 tbsp orange liqueur.
- Beat in the white chocolate.
- Sandwiched the cakes together with a good thick layer, then spread the rest over the top and sides.
O is for Orange in this month’s AlphaBakes, so a virtual slice of this orange, poppy seed and white chocolate cake is being sent over to Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker c/o CT’s mum.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for my Birthday|
It’s National Chocolate Week, although every week is chocolate week in this household. Nevertheless, this seems a good time to post a showstopper chocolate cake.
This chocolate red wine cake was one of the first recipes I made from Charlotte Pike’s Easy Baking in her Hungry Student series of cookbooks. I made it back in July as my birthday offering to my work colleagues. The cake is a plain unadorned one, although I can assure you that the taste is by no means plain. However, as it was a celebratory cake, I created a chocolate red wine icing to top it and decorated it using chocolate fingers. Sadly, like the chocolate amnesia cake, I forgot to write down exactly what I did and I can no longer remember.
However, recently, I had the perfect opportunity to make one again and remind myself just how good it was. I was set a challenge of creating a Home Bargains Showstopper and was sent a selection of goodies to help me on my way. I was thrilled when a box arrived in the post packed full of all sorts of baking paraphernalia; it reminded me of a Christmas stocking as I excitedly pulled out one thing after another. The theme was definitely pink and what girl doesn’t like pink? There was a three layer pink cardboard cake stand, a pink heat mat, pink cupcake cases, pink hearts and pink marshmallows. Luckily, there was a fair amount of red in it too and red is the colour of my kitchen. I immediately fell in love with the red strawberry apron and oven glove and was pleased with the two red silicone cake moulds and cookie cutters. And it was indeed a home bargain as the whole lot would have cost less than £14. Products are available online or at 300 Home Bargain stores across the UK.
- Strawberry single oven glove – £1.49
- Top Cake love hearts – 79p
- Red strawberry apron £1.99
- Red cookie cutters – 99p
- 75 cupcake cases – 79p
- Red silicone cake mould (8″) – £1.99
- Vintage Dream cupcake cases and picks – 99p
- Stainless steel palette knife – 99p
- Silicone trivet – 79p
- Pink spotty cake stand – 99p
- Measuring spoons – 59p
- Mini marshmallows – 59p
Then along came the first Cornish Clandestine Cake Club event I’ve been able to attend in a very long time and the theme was vintage. Held at a Cornish winery, it was more of a “vin” theme than a retro recipe one, but it was left up to us to choose. The chocolate red wine cake was a must. This time I made use of some dark cranberry chocolate that was in need of using and added it along with some cranberries soaked in red wine. I donned my lovely new apron, got out the new oven glove and cake decorations, washed the cake moulds and palette knife and set to, making up a filling and topping recipe once again. This time I wrote it down.
This is how I made:
Chocolate and Cranberry Red Wine Cake
- Poured 125ml red wine into a jug.
- Added 50g dried cranberries and left to soak whilst getting on with everything else.
- Melted 125g dark chocolate (half Dr Oetker 72% and half cranberry 52%) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
- Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 200g caster sugar and 50g molasses sugar until pale in colour and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs, one by one, adding a little of the flour mixture towards the end.
- Sifted in 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 rounded tsp baking powder, 4 rounded tsp cocoa,1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt and stirred gently.
- Stirred in the wine and cranberries a little at a time.
- Stirred in the chocolate until just incorporated.
- Divided the mixture between two 20 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 30 minutes when the cakes were well risen and a tester inserted in the middle came out clean.
|Chocolate Red Wine Cake for CCC|
- Creamed 120g unsalted butter with 250g sifted icing sugar.
- Sifted in 40g of cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 75 ml red wine and beat vigourously until light and airy.
- Sandwiched the cakes with half of the filling and slathered the other half on top.
- Decorated with pink hearts and Dr Oetker pink sugar and shimmer balls.
The winery, Knightor, near St Austell and the Eden Project is housed in an old stone barn that has been spectacularly renovated. As ever, there were some fabulous cakes made by the indefatigable home bakers of Cornwall. Thanks to our mistress of ceremonies, Ellie, for organising another splendid CCC.
|Clever design – hic!|
|Black Forest Gateau made by Nat of HungryHinny|
|Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake|
|Tuck in if you dare|
|Sadly not the plate I took home|
|Hearts for Love|
The cake was a commission and a heart shape was chosen. As it was meant for a tea time treat, I was keen to use one of these Afternoon Tea Chocolates.
|Stars for Celebrataion|
To ensure I got to try some, I took the precaution of baking a second small rectangular one for us. This one was to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s third birthday. The cakes were of the sandwich variety and I filled and covered them with some sort of ganache.
The cake itself was moist and chocolatey, but the whipped ganache filling and covering was sublime. I do remember it had lots of chocolate in it and I beat it for ages so it was rich, but light and airy, almost mousse like.
This month for Random Recipes we were asked to take 10 seconds to grab one book and run. Dom reckoned with no time to think, we would automatically go for our most useful book. My go to baking book is Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which coincidentally is the book that featured in last month’s Random Recipes. If I need a reminder on how to make something or need a reliable recipe, then this is the first book I turn to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or even most comprehensive baking book I own, although I suspect it probably is, but I’ve had the book for many many years and it is like an old familiar.
The next task was to randomly pick a recipe. When I asked CT to pick a number, he obligingly came up with no. 15 which was Nigella’s Victoria Sponge. I have made a Victoria innumerable times, but I have never used Nigella’s recipe before. She suggests substituting some of the flour for cornflour. I’m always interested in trying different methods and ingredients, so I was keen to see what, if any, difference this made. On the three page spread that this classic took up, chocolate was not even mentioned once – harrumph! With a sponge, this is really not a problem as it can generally be filled with whatever you like. I decided I would fill it with the fig and pomegranate jam I made last year and a chocolate buttercream – chocolate and figs are a good combination I reckon.
This is how I made:
Fig and Chocolate Victoria Sandwich
- Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until pale and airy.
- Beat in 1 tsp chocolate extract.
- Beat in 4 eggs (2 medium hens eggs and 2 large duck eggs).
- Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal spelt and half white), 25g cornflour and 1½ tsp baking powder. Stirred in as gently as possible.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk (ordinary milk is fine, but sour helps with the rise).
- Divided mixture between two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180°C for 25 minutes until the cakes were risen, golden and firm to the touch.
- Turned first cake out of the mould to cool. And this is where disaster struck. I normally leave the cakes to cool in the moulds for ten minutes before turning out, but in my eagerness I didn’t listen to the warning bells in my head. Large chunks stuck to the bottom of the mould and my first cake was a mess. I dutifully left the second one in it’s mould for 15 minutes before turning out and it was absolutely fine.
- Melted 15g of dark chocolate (72%) in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 100g golden icing sugar until pale and fully incorporated.
- Beat in the chocolate.
- Beat in 1 tbsp double cream.
- Placed all the pieces from the broken cake together to form a round as best I could.
- Covered this with the contents from a small jar of fig and pomegranate jam.
- Spread the buttercream over the bottom of the intact cake and placed this, bottom side up on top of the broken one.
- Dusted the top with caster sugar, then immediately cut a slice to see a) if it would hold together and b) how it tasted.
I am eating that slice now and can attest that despite its rather crumpled look, the cake held together and tastes wonderful. The jam and buttercream are a good combination, but I actually think the jam with whipped cream would have been a better one – less sweet and would have allowed the jam to really shine. I’m not sure I really noticed any difference having used cornflour but it wasn’t a double blind trial.