Spending the first few years of my life living in Germany has definitely had a big influence on the way I celebrate Christmas. Even the baubles hanging from my tree are the ones that I inherited/pinched from my mum which she bought when we lived […]
You know you’ve come up with a winning recipe when your brother sends you this message and tells you that he’s just polished off his third slice! But really I can’t blame him for having thirds of this rich, delicious, sticky, gooey cake. The sponge […]
If a party without cake is just a meeting then serving up this really would make it a celebration!
I’ve made this cake a couple of times now and it’s always very well received, it looks impressive before you’ve even cut into it. It’s got three layers of deliciously light almond or vanilla flavoured sponge (your choice, both are yummy) sandwiched together with fruity raspberry jam and silky Swiss Meringue buttercream, covered in more raspberry buttercream, smothered in rich chocolate ganache and finished off with some chocolate dipped strawberries – you know, just for good measure. Because if you’re going to do cake you should really DO cake.
320g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract (your choice)
swiss meringue buttercream
4 egg whites
4 tbsp seedless raspberry jam (plus extra for filling)
100g double cream
100g dark chocolate
Start the sponge by pre-heating your oven to 190°c and greasing and lining three standard size cake tins (I think mine are about 8-9″).
Sift together the flour and baking powder then whisk this with the salt and sugar ensuring that they are well mixed. Beat the dry ingredients with the softened butter until you have something that looks a bit like damp sand.
In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or almond extract and milk and then add half of this to the dry mixture and beat it together well, ensuring that there are no lumps. Add the remaining liquid and beat again to combine it all and leave you with a fairly runny batter. Divide this evenly between the three prepared cake tins, level off the surfaces by giving the tins a little shake and pop them in the oven, all on the same shelf if your oven is big enough.
Bake the sponges for around 20 minutes, so that they are risen and golden brown, and if you poke them with a skewer or cake tester it comes out clean. Carefully turn the sponges out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool.
To make the Swiss meringue buttercream put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, be careful not to let the water touch the base of the bowl. Add the sugar and use a hand whisk to whip them continuously whilst they heat up. They should become quite foamy and increase in volume. When they are ready to come off the heat, they will feel hot to the touch and the sugar should be totally dissolved.
Take the bowl off the pan of water and use an electric whisk to whip the meringue until it is thick and glossy. If by this stage the base of the bowl has cooled down to room temperature(ish) then you can start to whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time. If the bowl is still warm then the butter will melt so it’s worth waiting until it’s cooled down. Continue to whip the buttercream until you have incorporated all of the butter and it is thick, smooth and creamy. Add the four tablespoons of jam and whisk again until it is well blended with the buttercream.
To assemble the cake decide which of your three sponges has the neatest, flattest bottom so that one can be the top. Put one of the other sponges onto a cake board or serving plate and spread a tablespoon or two of jam on it. Follow this with a layer of the buttercream, not too thick but spreading it right up to the edges of the cake. Pop a second sponge on top and repeat the layers of jam and buttercream again. Add the final sponge and then cover the whole cake with a very thin coat of the buttercream, just to seal in all the crumbs. Put the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes so that everything can firm up a bit. Use the rest of the buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake with a thicker coating, making it as smooth as possible. Put the cake back in the fridge, this time for at least an hour so that it will be nice and cool when you add the chocolate ganache (this gives the best ‘drip’ effect).
Whilst the cake chills you can decorate the strawberries by simply dipping them in melted white chocolate and then into some sprinkles. Leave them on a sheet of baking parchment to set.
Make the ganache by chopping the chocolate into chunks and placing it in a bowl. Heat the cream so that it is quite warm but not boiling. Pour this over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring until it’s all well blended. Set aside to cool and thicken to a dripping consistency.
Get the chilled cake out of the oven and spoon the ganache in a ring around the top of it, encouraging a few drips to fall down the sides here and there. Carefully add a bit more ganache to the top to fill in the centre and smooth it off with a palate knife if you need too. Add the strawberries and a scattering of extra sprinkles. Return the cake to the fridge until you’re ready to serve it
White chocolate and raspberry are the best of buddies. I often find white chocolate to be too sweet, almost sickly, but the sharpness of the raspberry in these really reigns it back in and stops it from getting out of hand. Like a sensible friend […]
This was a total experiment that came about when I needed a cake to take along to something but had just used up the last of my eggs. It’s alarmingly difficult to find free range eggs here (cage free is not the same thing!) and I didn’t have time to go on a hunt for them. I did have a few egg whites in the freezer however and I had successfully replaced whole eggs with coconut milk in my ginger cake (http://coriandercooks.com/2014/06/23/sticky-eggless-ginger-cake/) when I found myself in a similar situation. It had to be worth a try…and it totally was!
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder (really good dark stuff)
2 tsp baking powder
100g coconut milk
150g soft light brown sugar
50g butter (melted)
2 tbsp rum (optional)
3 egg whites.
150g good quality dark chocolate (finely chopped)
150ml double cream
1 tbsp rum (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and very lightly grease your cake tin before dusting it with a little cocoa powder. Double sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Sifting it twice will get a bit more air into the cake. Stir in the salt. In a different bowl beat together half of the sugar and the coconut milk. Add in the melted butter, rum and milk and stir together. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks in a third bowl (sorry about all the washing up!). Whisk in remaining sugar in two batches to create a meringue mixture.
Beat the wet mixture into the dry ingredients using an electric mixer. Finally fold in egg whites to lighten the whole mixture. Pour into your prepared tin and bake it for around 40 minutes, testing with a skewer to check that it is cooked all the way through.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to cool totally before decorating.
To make the ganache simply warm the cream (with the rum if using) and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow the chocolate to melt into the warm cream for five minutes and then stir it all together. Put this in the fridge to get really cold and thicken before using an electric mixer to whip it until it is thick and fluffy. Spread this all over the cooled cake using a metal palate knife. Keep the cake cool until serving as the whipped ganache is prone to melting easily, which does make it all the more delicious to eat.
Why have I only just discovered the wonder that is the combination of coffee, cardamom and chocolate? I tried some 70% cocoa chocolate the other day that was flavoured with these two and it was sublime. I have had chocolate with both cardamom and coffee separately but never combined and having finally tasted all three together I’m a bit annoyed with my own brain for not suggesting it sooner.
These rich little pots of gooey-ness are so incredibly simple to make the only excuses that I’ll accept for you not giving them a go must come in the form of a Doctors note. When I was young my Grandma bought me cookbook full of chocolate recipes and I immediately made ‘Pot au Chocolat’ because it looked so easy.
When I say that they are rich I am not exaggerating – the recipe is essentially just ganache so it’s incredibly indulgent. Make sure you use really good quality chocolate for them with a high cocoa solids content.
I like to serve them in espresso cups (partly because it justifies my collection of them.) Ramekins are also fine but I think even the most hardened chocoholic would struggle to make it through anything more generous.
300ml double cream
180g dark chocolate
6 cardamom pods
2 tsp (rounded) ground coffee
Crack the cardamom pods to release the seeds a little and add these, the coffee and the cream to a small saucepan. Slowly heat this over a low light until the cream is starting to think about simmering.
Chop the chocolate into small chunks and place in a large mixing bowl.
Strain the hot cream through a fine mesh sieve over the chocolate. Discard the remaining coffee grounds and cardamom.
Stir the cream and chocolate together using a spatula or spoon, ensuring that they are really well blended. Any chocolate that isn’t mixed into the cream will mean that the resulting ganache isn’t velvety smooth.
Pour into your chosen serving pots and chill for a couple of hours to set.
Decorate however you like (I piped little puffs of steam out of white chocolate) and enjoy the smug feeling when people tell you how impressed they are!