Icing Sugar Cloud

That "pfft" of icing sugar that covers every surface in your kitchen. It happens to the best of us…


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Who doesn’t like Chocolate Cake? No-one, that’s who.

I love chocolate.  I love cake.  But more often than not, chocolate cake is a bit disappointing.  It’s a bit dry and flavourless.  Or, at the other end of the spectrum, its too moist and rich.  If I wanted a brownie I would’ve made them (and yes, I will definitely be making brownies.  Lots and lots of them).  I want a delicious, light and chocolatey chocolate cake.  One that’s rich and full of flavour.  Is that too much to ask?

Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing

Triple Layer Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing

This recipe is one my go-to chocolate sponge cake recipe.  Its quick and easy to make and delicious with any manner of fillings and frostings.  I’ve made this recipe countless times in various sized cake tins and have yet to fuck it up. Score!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

The first time I made this cake and I’ve never looked back! This was a chocolate cake with salted caramel icing filling, covered in chocolate ganache. I ate about half of this cake!

Dark Chocolate Sponge
Dry ingredients
270g all-purpose flour
400g sugar (caster or light brown, or a combination of the two)
140g dark cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
200ml buttermilk
200 ml espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
120 ml vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Prepare two or three 8-inch round cake tins with butter, grease-proof paper, and cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.
  2. Sift all dry ingredients into your stand mixer bowl (or a large bowl) and give a quick stir.  Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.  Add the wet ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients.
  3. With paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may want to use the plastic splash-guard or a tea towel here!) or beat by hand until smooth.  This chocolate batter will be very liquidy.
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared tins. Sometimes I eyeball it but more often than not I use scales to weigh divided batter for even layers.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes (30 mins if using two deep tins) and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean, approximately 30 (or 40) minutes. Try not to over bake.
  6. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife, and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

Recipe adapted from the amazingly talented Sweetapolita http://sweetapolita.com/2010/11/rich-ruffled-chocolate-celebration-cake/ You should check out her blog and you will see that I have been somewhat influenced by her style.  Cough cough.

Note: These cake layers are rather deep and so I use cake tins that are 3” deep.  If you only have sandwich tins just be sure to only fill your tins a maximum of 2/3 full.

Fill and over this cake with your favourite frosting or, if you’re feeling lazy, just serve with a splodge of cream, custard or ice-cream.  That’s the stuff!  This recipe can easily be halved to a make a 6” cake with either two or three layers (or single layer 8” cake, if you prefer).

Birthday Cake

Triple layer chocolate cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and fondant hippo (that my nephew bit the bum off!).

I’ve made this cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, salted caramel buttercream, chocolate orange ganache and chocolate fudge frosting, to name but a few.  It was delightful in every permutation.  And the possibilities are pretty much endless: peppermint ganache, fresh raspberries and whipped cream, white chocolate buttercream and strawberries, coconut buttercream, cinnamon frosting.  I could go on but I think you catch my drift and, actually, its just making me hungry…

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake filled with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and coated in chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. Plus a modelling chocolate cat for good measure!

In fact, sod it.  I think I’m going to go and eat some off-cuts I have from the cake I made on Friday.  Just imagine me, all Nigella-esque, lit by the flattering glow from the fridge, placing delectable cake morsels in my mouth.  Yeah, that’s exactly what it’ll be like.  Definitely.


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My Baking Break Up

Its happened to us all.  We’ve been there, pootling along with our tried and true recipes when one day, BOOM! Disaster strikes.  The recipe which offered such promise is a complete fucking failure.  How?  How?!  I had my oven thermometer and everything!  I even followed the arsing instructions, for crying out loud.  It was like an unexpected break up.  You think things are fine.  You trust someone.  And then, like a bolt from the blue, your cake world implodes.  I put my heart in your hands and my cake in the oven. I TRUSTED YOU AND YOU BETRAYED ME, YOU BASTARD.  You begin to doubt yourself.  Was it me?  What did I do wrong?  Then doubt turns to shame.  I’m so useless.  I can’t even follow a sodding recipe.  Shame becomes anger.  It must be them.  They must’ve made a mistake.  I did everything they ever asked.  How could they do this to me?!  My hopes and dreams are dashed. Now I have nothing.  No cake.  No cake ever again.

Image

Apologies for the dodgy iPhone picture of the cake but I’m currently having some issues with my digital camera, by which I mean I can’t find the damn thing (but that’s a whole other rant).

I had such high hopes.  The last time I tried something new, it turned out to be such a waste.  A waste of time, money and energy.  I thought David and David of Outsider Tart would teach me to trust again.  Good-looking book, great reviews, personal recommendation.  This is the one, surely?  I’ve fallen afoul of the bad boy of the baking world before, namely The Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks.  Notorious.  Its got the looks, oh my, it’s a looker.  And the gift of the gab.  It seems to have so much to offer, showing you how life could be with its glossy pictures and delectable sounding bakes.  But it fails to deliver.  The crushing disappointment.  The soul destroying waste.  You bastard.

Off I trot to the kitchen, with my 6 eggs and unbelievable quantities of sugar, butter, flour and cream cheese, filled with cautious hope and a good helphing of excitement.  I follow the recipe to the letter.  This is unusual for me, as I generally think my ways to be better, but not today.  I lay myself at the mercy of the David, and their ‘Tisha’s Two Cents’ pound cake and my trusty Nordic Ware festive Bundt tin.  Unfortunately, I think I should have followed my instincts in this instance though… But yes, the cake.  Into the oven it goes, delicious tasting batter unceremoniously licked from the spoon (and beater, and bowl – you get the idea).  I’m feeling more confident, now that I’ve eaten obscene amounts of raw batter.  I impatiently wait the requisite 75-90 minutes.  Do the prod test and the skewer test.  Seems to be cooked, according to these tests but I am uncertain.  I don’t think its ready.  I don’t know why, I just don’t.  Doubt has crept back in.  I leave it another 10 minutes or so.  Think ‘Great-British-Bake-Off-sat-on-floor-nose-to-oven’ type waiting, except I have slate flooring in my kitchen, so it was more of the ‘standing-in-the-kitchen-drinking-a-glass-of-wine’ variety.  We’ve all been there!  I take it out of the oven, still trepidatious.  I leave it too cool in the tin, as per the instructions.  This took restraint of super-human proportions, I’m not going to lie.  Cake cooled, I inspect it closely before attempting to turn it out.  I have flying crust! The top was cooked but I spy a massive gap all around!  What happened?

I’ll tell you want happened: the fecker wasn’t cooked.   Still raw in the middle.  Yup.  I was right.  The outside of the cake cooked but because I took it out of the oven underbaked, the uncooked portion sank.  Result?  A huge gap between the majority of the cake and the aforementioned flying crust.  Bollocks.

I don’t have a picture of the wreck.  I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it.  It was too sad.  Why would I want a permanent reminder of my failings?  Also, I didn’t think about blogging about it until a few days after said incident.

I tried again the following day.  I had to make this one work, otherwise all hope is lost.  I will make this fucking cake if it kills me.  I only did 2/3 of the recipe this time.  Same tin.  Same oven thermometer.  It was a success!!  Well, that may be a slight exaggeration.  It was edible.  Still seemed a bit undercooked to me.  Tasted amazing though.  Well, why wouldn’t it?  There was a pound of sugar in the fecking thing!

Please feel free to share your baking disasters with me.  Please!  It’ll make me feel better, after all, misery loves company.

Happy New Year!

For those of you that are interested, this is the book I used: ‘Baked in America’ by Outsider Tart (here – http://www.outsidertart.com/our-cookbook/).  I will be baking from this book again but also listening to my instincts!