Strawberry Fudge Cake

So, things have been pretty quiet around here lately – I’m sorry!

There are two main reasons – firstly  life has just been crazy and I’ve barely had time to read any blogs, let alone write them; but I’ve also put a temporary stop to baking for the good of my health…

To summarise the situation, at the start of the year I moved into a new house, with new friends, in a new town. I’ve gone from living in the middle of nowhere and rarely going out, to having easy access to all manor of restaurants, bars and fabulous social occasions.

The upshot of this is that even though I’ve been exercising more, the weight has been creeping on – I’m now a stone heavier than I was in December, and although people are very kind to me and say it doesn’t show, I can see it and feel it, and I don’t like it.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is all down to cake – copious amounts of rum and coke are definitely to blame too – but I’ve decided that having cakes sat around in the kitchen is one temptation I can do without.

My current health kick definitely isn’t forever, just until I get back down to a size I’m more happy with (and I am going to cut back on the alcohol to help this too… a bit…)

I’ll still be baking for special occasions because as far as I’m concerned nothing says love like baked goods, and I will continue to blog as often as I can. I also have a bit of a blog revamp in the pipeline, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get baking and writing more again!

This strawberry fudge cake was a cake of love, for my dear friend Charlotte’s birthday.

I was inspired by a box of strawberries and cream fudge, and came up with a vanilla sponge studded with fresh strawberries, filled and iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting, with chinks of fudge between the layers and on top, finished with a few more fresh strawberries and pink sugar sprinkles.

It was everything I wanted it to be – pretty, summery, light and tasty. The birthday girl liked it and I think it was 100% worth the calories consumed taste testing the icing and eating leftover fudge…

Strawberry fudge cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 150g strawberry, chopped

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 200g strawberries, chopped, plus extra to decorate
  • 100g strawberry (or plain) fudge, finely chopped
  • pink sugar sprinkles

For the sponge, follow the usual Victoria sponge method – beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, then sift in the flour and fold in until just combined. Stir in the strawberries, then divide between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for about 25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, start by heating the strawberries in a small saucepan, and cook them until they have completely broken down and turn into a thick puree. Beat the butter and gradually add the icing sugar, adding a little of the cream cheese if it’s not coming together. Finally, add the cream cheese and cooled strawberries and beat until light and fluffy.

Chill the icing in the fridge for an hour before assembling the cake. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom layer of cake, then sprinkle a third of the fudge pieces on top. Add the second layer of sponge, more icing and more fudge, then the final layer of sponge. Cover in a thin coat of icing and refrigerate for half an hour.

Spread the remaining icing all over the cake. Finish by adding a few more strawberries and the remaining chopped fudge to decorate, and scatter some sugar sprinkles on top as well if you like. Store in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to serve.

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Chocolate and vanilla mud cake

This post sort of carries on the Malteser theme of my last one – I’m a bit of a fan!

Although with the Malt-Easter cookies maltesers were the driving force behind the recipe, in this case they were just a decoration for one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve made in quite a while.

Regular readers of this blog will have heard me gush about Charlotte White of Restoration Cake before – not only does she bake stunning and tasty takes, she is the epitome of vintage glamour, and I can only dream of looking as fabulous as she does while baking in high heels and stunning 50’s dresses. Swoon!

Earlier this year, her first book was published – Burlesque Baking. It starts with basic cake and icing recipes, then goes on to the fabulous decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies, all inspired by burlesque dancers.

The cake she demonstrated at the Cake and Bake show, the Miss Polly Rae Cake, is in there (you can see my attempt here) along with some other truly stunning designs that I can’t wait to try out.

My lovely housemate Becky bought me the book for my birthday, and when I emailed Charlotte to tell her how excited I was to try the recipes she said that I absolutely MUST try the chocolate mud cake.

Well, when the author herself tells you to do something you can’t really say no, and so when I had an event to go to which required a celebration cake, I knew exactly which it would be.

Unfortunately as the event was mid-week and I have a pesky job that gets in the way of baking, I knew I wouldn’t have time to attempt any of Charlotte’s amazing designs, so I had to improvise. I filled and iced the cake with a vanilla bean cream cheese icing, poured chocolate ganache on top and then scattered crushed Maltesers on top to decorate.

Although not exactly refined or elegant, I think the overall effect worked quite well. What this cake was really about though was the taste – the chocolate cake was so dark and rich, and almost bordering on brownie-like in texture, that it may become my new go-to chocolate sponge recipe.

The vanilla icing offered a good contrast to the rich chocolate, and you can’t really go wrong with added ganache and crunchy Maltesers – I liked it and it went down rather well at the event too, along with a lemon drizzle cake with cream cheese icing which I made, and a towering monster of a birthday cake made by someone else.

I strongly recommend you buy Burlesque Baking, it’s a gorgeous book and I will hopefully have a chance to try out some of the decorating and blog about it very soon!

Chocolate and vanilla mud cake (adapted from Burlesque Baking)

For the cake:

  • 165g dark chocolare
  • 165g butter
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 120ml water
  • 90g plain flour
  • 90g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 80ml buttermilk

For the vanilla icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

For the ganache and decoration:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  • 100g(ish) maltesers, crushed

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof saucepan with the water and coffee granules on a low heat, stirring until no lumps remain. Sift both flours, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl, and whisk together the eggs, oil and buttermilk in another bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients then pour in the egg mixture and stir until well combined.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in until you have a smooth, glossy cake batter. Divide between two greased and lined 7″ round tins, then bake at 160 degrees (140 fan) for about 35-40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins – the cakes are quite fragile while warm.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then gradually add in the icing sugar beating until well combined. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes, until light and fluffy. Once the cake has completely cooled, level the tops of the sponges then use the vanilla icing to fill and cover the cake.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until nearly boiling then pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minute and then stir until all the chocolate bits have melted. Leave to cool until thick but still pourable, then pour over the cake and let it just start to fall down the sides. Finish by piling the crushed Maltesers onto the ganache, then cut into slices and serve.

Chocolate and raspberry cake for National Chocolate Week

chocolate and raspberry cake

What kind of baker, blogger and all round chocolate lover would I be if I didn’t mark the first day of National Chocolate Week with something ridiculously over the top and full of chocolatey goodness?

This chocolate and raspberry cake hopefully fits the bill – three layers of chocolate sponge, dotted with raspberries, sandwiched with a raspberry sauce and whipped milk chocolate ganache, smothered in dark chocolate ganache and finished with dark chocolate panels and raspberries on top.

This cake was a request from a friend, to make his girlfriend a 30th birthday cake. He wanted me to recreate a cake I baked about two years ago, which she apparently declared ‘the best thing she had ever eaten, anywhere, ever’. Pretty high praise!

The only problem was I didn’t write the recipe down at the time, and consequently had to guess at what exactly it was I did. Luckily the birthday girl was pleased with the result, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out looks-wise although I didn’t have a chance to taste it.

If you haven’t already started to celebrate National Chocolate Week, do it now! I will be eating it fairly moderately during the week, but going all out at the weekend when I attend Salon du Chocolat, which is coming to London for the first time. If you don’t hear from me for a little while it’s fine, I’ll just be lying in the corner in a chocolate induced coma…

Chocolate and raspberry cake

For the sponge ingredients and method, see here – just add 100g fresh raspberries and divide between the three cake tins, lightly pressing into the top of the batter, before baking.

For filling, icing and decorating:

  • 125g rasberries
  • 50g raspberry jam
  • 10g cornflour
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 90ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Red or pink sprinkles/shimmer sugar
  • 100g raspberries

To make the raspberry sauce, heat the raspberries and jam together in a saucepan until the raspberries break down and the mixture comes to a boil. Add in the cornflour, keep stirring, then remove from the heat. Press the mixture through a sieve to get rid of all the lumps and seeds, then return the liquid to the saucepan and simmer until thickened. Leave to cool.

For the whipped milk chocolate ganache, heat the 90ml cream until almost boiling, then pour over the milk chocolate. Stir until no lumps of chocolate remain, then chill for at least three hours, or preferable overnight. Once cool, whisk for 2-3 minutes, until it becomes light and airy and peaks start to form.

To make the dark chocolate ganache, heat the 150ml cream and pour over 200g of the dark chocolate, again stirring until no lumps remain. Leave to cool at room temperature until thick enough to spread (you can always re-heat a little if it becomes too thick).

For the chocolate panels, heat the remaining 100g dark chocolate until just melted – this in theory should help it keep it’s temper, or you can temper properly if you’re feeling fancy. Measure a piece of baking paper a couple of inches higher than the cake will be, and long enough to wrap around the outside of the tin. Spread the chocolate in an even layer over the paper, then sprinkle the decorations all over. Before the chocolate sets, wrap it around the outside of a cake tin or something of a similar shape, so it will set with a curve. Once completely hardened, remove and break into panels – they can be neatened up later.

To assemble the cake, place the first sponge on a cake card then spread half of the whipped milk chocolate ganache on top. Spread half the raspberry sauce on the underneath of the next layer and place sauce side down on top. Repeat with the top layer of the cake, using the remaining whipped ganache and sauce to sandwich.

Spread a thin layer of the dark chocolate ganache all over the outside of the cake to crumb coat, then chill for half an hour. Spread the rest all over the top and sides. To make the panels, use a hot knife to cut them to the same height as the cake and to straighten up the sides, then gently press into the ganache going all the way around the cake. Finish by arranging the remaining raspberries on top of the cake, and placing on a cake board or serving plate.

Black and white chocolate showstopper

Black and white chocolate showstopper

It feels kind of arrogant to refer to something I’ve baked as a ‘showstopper’ – it definitely sets it up to be something spectacular so it’s a pretty bold statement to make.

But with showstoppers being the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by the lovely Choclette, I’ve decided to embrace the word and be a little bold, and I am rather proud of this cake even if I do say so myself.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Cake and Bake Show, I was totally inspired by the brilliant burlesque baking style demonstrated by Charlotte White, and so I decided to try my hand at a bit of a vintage design for my showstopper.

The stars all seemed to align for the making of this cake – I needed to make a showstopper, I was inspired by Charlotte, I had a friend with a birthday to bake for, and I was also having some professional photos taken on Saturday which was a great opportunity to get a half decent picture for a change (you may notice the drastic different in quality between the photos of the whole cake and the one of the inside, quickly snapped on my phone…)

The cake itself is my favourite dark chocolate cake, sandwiched with a white chocolate mousse and raspberry jam. I then coated it in a thin layer of buttercream before covering in white sugar paste, and decorating with royal icing, sort of piped in pearls but without flattening down the tips, and a flower paste flower of sorts on top.

For a first attempt at ‘fancy’ icing I was really happy with how it turned out, although I did have to do the sugar paste twice as I wasn’t happy with the first go as I rolled it too thinly and it cracked on the sides.

The birthday girl was happy too, and the taste lived up to the appearance – well, at 3 in the morning after one too many cocktails it seemed to anyway…

I really enjoyed making and decorating this cake, and I’m looking forward to my next attempt at something fancy – with a Clandestine Cake Club happening on Thursday I won’t have too long to wait, so I’ll update you on that soon!

Black and white chocolate showstopper

  • 90g dark chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90ml milk
  • 90ml strongly brewed coffee, cooled

For filling and icing:

  • 150g white chocolate
  • 150ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 30g butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 750g sugar paste
  • 50g royal icing sugar mix
  • Black gel food colouring
  • 20g white flower paste

Start by melting the dark chocolate then set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. Sift together the flour, cocoa and bicarb, then fold into the cake mix. Add half the coffee and milk and beat slowly until just combined, then add the rest of the coffee and milk along with the melted chocolate, and mix again until the batter comes together and is smooth with no lumps.

Divide between three 6″ round tins, and bake at 170 degrees for around 25 minutes, until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool while you make the filling and buttercream.

For the white chocolate mousse, melt the white chocolate and leave to cool. Whip the cream until almost stiff, then fold in the chocolate, working fairly swiftly so the chocolate doesn’t seize. To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together until light and fluffy (I actually had some leftover from another cake, but this quantity should be plenty enough).

To assembly the cake, line a deep 6″ cake tin with cling film and level the tops of all the cakes. Place one sponge in the bottom of the tin, then spread half of the white chocolate mousse on top. Spread two tbsp of the raspberry jam on the next cake layer, then place jam side down on the chocolate mousse. Repeat with the remaining mousse, jam and final cake layer, then leave in the fridge to set.

Lift the cake out of the tin using the cling film, then unwrap. Spread a thin layer of the buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, then roll out the sugarpaste into a large enough circle to cover the cake. Drape over the cake, then work quickly to smooth down the top and sides before trimming any excess icing from the bottom.

To decorate, roll the flower past out very thinly and use a petal cutter to cut 20-25 petals. Use a ball modelling tool to thin the petals around the edges, then leave to set.

Mx the royal icing sugar with 1.5 tsp water and 1/2 tsp black gel colouring, whisking with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. Add more water if it’s too thick, more sugar if it’s too thin. I then used Charlotte’s top tip of creating a baking paper collar for the cake to mark out the pattern for the pearl chain with a cocktail stick, before piping the decoration in dots.

Arrange the flower paste petals on top of the cake, securing with a little of the royal icing, then place the cake on a cake board covered in more sugarpaste.

Sit back, admire your handiwork, then eat cake!