Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake

Last weekend, our neighbour Ivy celebrated her 91st birthday. NINETY-ONE!

This was definitely cause for a celebration cake. A bit of sneaky research revealed that creamy cakes are her favourite, so I set about making this strawberries and cream chocolate layer cake.

I used the same sponge recipe that I used for the chocolate gateau a while ago, but baked it in three layers as it rose out of the tin last time. I think this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for chocolate layer cakes, it’s fudgey, chocolatey, and can hold the weight of several layers on top.

I spread each of the bottom two layers with melted strawberry jam, then piled on whipped cream with chopped strawberries mixed in. The top layer of the cake was decorated with a layer of chocolate ganache, halved strawberries arranged around the edge, and white chocolate writing.

We finished the cake with a few candles and took the it round to surprise Ivy. She loved it!

Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake:

For the sponge

  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve the dry ingredients into the cake and fold until well combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk, then the melted chocolate and remaining buttermilk.

Divide the mixture between three 7″ tins (I only have two so I baked then in two goes, and weighed the mixture to make sure each tin had the same amount). Bake at 180 degrees on the middle shelf of the oven, for approximately 2 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling and decoration

  • 300g strawberries
  • 275ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g white chocolate

Halve 8 of the strawberries for the decoration and set aside. Finely chop the rest. Whip the cream until soft peaks are starting to form, then stir in the icing sugar and chopped strawberries.

Melt the jam, then brush onto two of the sponge layers. Divide the cream mix between the two sponges, and sandwich together.

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate until thick enough to spread, then spread onto the third cake layer to within 1cm of the edge. Arrange the halved strawberries around the edge of the cake, then leave in the fridge until the ganache is set.

Melt the white chocolate and transfer to a piping back for the writing. It’s easier to decorate the top before it goes on the cake, so once the writing is done add the third layer. Add candles and celebrations and enjoy!

White chocolate raspberry rose cake

For this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog chose rose as the special ingredient.

I instantly thought of a recipe for a white chocolate gateau from my favourite cookbook, Chocolate by Joanna Farrow. It uses creme fraiche mixed with rosewater as the filling for two white chocolate sponges, filled with buttercream.

Although that was the inspiration, I wasn’t utterly convinced by the creme fraiche idea, so I thought about how I could incorporate the rose into a different filling. Eventually I settled on making a raspberry rose jam, which would also serve the purpose of ticking jam off my to-bake list.

I was a little worried the cake would be too dry with just jam as the filling, so I also added some white chocolate cream cheese between each layer.

Just to go completely over the top I made white chocolate modelling paste roses and leaves to decorate the cake, and tie in with the rose theme.

This is a pretty grand cake, but luckily I had the perfect reason to make it, as one of my colleagues had her last day at work this week before going on maternity leave. Unfortunately she got sick and didn’t make it in for her last day, but we took the cake to her house instead and she was kind enough to give us half back to share in the office, which I think everyone had secretly been hoping she would. Thanks Sam!

White Chocolate Raspberry Rose Cake

For the sponge:

  • 4 eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g white chocolate, grated
Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, until it leaves a trail when you lift the whisk. Remove from the heat, the whisk for a further 5 minutes. Fold in the sifted flour and chocolate then split the mixture between two 8″ cake tins and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden and springy.
For the filling:
Melt the white chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water, then beat into the cream cheese. When the cakes are cool cut each in half so you have four layers. I always put them in the freezer for half an hour beforehand to make them easier to cut. Place one layer on a plate or cakeboard and spread with a layer of jam. Spread another piece of cake with a layer of the cream cheese, then place on top of the jam (cream cheese side down). Repeat 3 times, ending with a layer of sponge with no filling on top.
For the icing:
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 75g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 or 3 tbsp milk
Melt the chocolate and butter together over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and beat in the icing sugar, adding milk a spoonful at a time if it seems too thick. Chill until a spreadable consistency, then spread all over the top and sides of the cake. I actually didn’t have enough icing as the crumb coat was quite tricky to do, so I ended up making half of this amount again to finish it off.
For the modelling paste:
  • 125g white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp liquid glucose
Melt the white chocolate, then beat in the glucose. It should create a ball that comes off the sides of the bowl. Chill in the fridge for a few hours (I left it overnight) then bring back to room temperature (or give it a quick blast in the microwave). I used this tutorial to make 4 roses, and cut leaf shapes out of the remaining paste.

Malteser birthday cake

Last weekend was my lovely friend John’s birthday. He has been kind enough to say some very nice things about my cakes in the past, so I couldn’t let the occasion pass without baking something special.

When asked what type of cakes were his favourite, he said ‘sweet, not fruity’ so naturally I took that to mean chocolate.

I looked around a bit before settling on this chocolate malteser cake.

I decided to make it more birthday-ish I would double the icing so I could cover the whole thing as well as the inside and top, and arrange the maltesers in a more decorative pattern.

The sponge didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, it wasn’t exactly dry but it wasn’t as moist or light as I would have liked either.

I don’t know if this is because I substituted the 3 medium eggs the recipe required for 2 duck eggs, but they had been given to me by one of the friendly pony’s colleagues and were too fresh and delicious not to use.

I also used less almonds and buttermilk than the recipe called for, purely because of the size packs they come so I wouldn’t have to waste any.

If I made it again I’d use a different sponge recipe, but the icing worked well and the birthday boy was happy, so overall it was a success.

Chocolate Malteser Birthday Cake

For the sponge:

  • 3 medium chicken eggs, or 2 duck eggs
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 50g melted butter
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Whisk the eggs and sugar for 4 minutes or until they have trebled in size. Add in all the other ingredients and mix to combine. Split the mixture between 2 greased and lined 7″ round cake tins, and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Leave the cakes to cool while you make the icing.
For the icing (makes enough for the cake and 6 cupcakes):
  • 250g marscapone
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 large sharing pack maltesers
Beat the marscapone until smooth then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add a little milk if the mixture it too thick to beat.
At this point I put the sponges, icing, maltesers and cake tools into a box (along with some cupcakes and ice packs), as the birthday celebrations were taking place 45 minutes away from my house and I wasn’t sure the cake would make the journey. Handily the pony’s parents live near by, so I borrowed their kitchen to assemble the cake.
To assemble, first chop the maltesers roughly in halves. I separated the neat looking ones to go on top and used the rest inside the cake and to decorate some cupcakes.
Spread a layer of icing on top of one of the sponges, then scatter chopped maltesers on top. Add the other sponge on top, then coat the top and sides with the rest of the icing. Leave in the fridge to cool for a while, then arrange the maltesers on top in a pretty pattern. Enjoy!

1,000 calorie chocolate caramel lion birthday cake

This week was a special week.

It was the friendly pony’s birthday, and such a special day deserves a special cake.

Quite a while ago we saw a recipe on the BBC good food website for a chocolate caramel layer cake that had an obscene 1,000 calories per slice.

There’s almost nothing the pony likes more than big calories, but I insisted that I would only make such a big calorie cake for a special occasion…

The cake itself was actually quite easy to make and wouldn’t have taken too long – had I not decided that what would make it complete was a marzipan lion.

Having never made marzipan animals before I didn’t really know what to expect, but colouring it and moulding it was easy enough. The part that took me a good hour or more was making his mane, from individual thinly rolled pieces of marzipan…

I was happy with the finished lion though, even if he was a little on the chubby side.

I proudly placed him on top of 4 layers of vanilla, caramel, caramel-chocolate and chocolate sponge, sandwiched with caramel and coated in thick chocolate ganache (you can actually hear the calories if you read that sentence out loud).

The towering cake somehow managed to make a 25 minute car journey to the pony’s work, where everyone had a slice and seemed to enjoy it. One person actually asked if making cakes was my job, amazing!

The recipe I followed is here, and the only change I made was adding a little extra yoghurt to the chocolate layer as the mixture was a bit too thick after adding all the cocoa powder.

It really was an awesome cake, but unless you’re one of those hateful people who can eat and eat and never put on weight, I would definitely save it for a special occasion and only have a very small slice!

Chocolate Mocha Jo Cake

Last weekend was my next door neighbour’s birthday. Until receiving the invite to her party, I’d thought she was in her late 20’s, so when I found out she was actually going to be 40, after the initial surprise I knew I had to make an AMAZING cake to celebrate.

She’s alergic to a few random things like oranges, so I decided to play it safe with a mocha cake, as I already knew she likes chocolate and coffee.

I dug out a recipe that my mum made for my birthday when I was about 12, and although I couldn’t really remember what it was like, I knew I’d liked it so i was sure it would work.

Unfortunately, when I took the cake out of the oven, it was literally as flat as a pancake (see measuring photo below!)

A celebration cake can’t be flat, so I made another, and made 1 & 3/4 times the original amount of icing.

The finished cake turned out huge – in fact it was still being eaten 4 days after the party – and Jo was super happy with it.

I made a white chocolate ganache with creme fraiche to decorate the cake, and originally tried piping the lettters and stars onto greaseproof paper and freezing it, but they just didn’t set hard enough, so I had to pipe free-hand.

Cake decorating isn’t my greatest skill, so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

I finished the cake by adding white chocolate stars all around the edge – a proper celebration cake!

 

 

Chocolate Mocha Jo Cake

Cake Ingredients (I doubled this to make 2 layers):

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 75ml condensed milk
  • 30ml Camp coffee essence
Beat together the butter and sugar then gradually add in the eggs. Sift in the flour and cocoa and gently mis in with the condensed milk and coffee essence. Bake in a 9″ greased and lined tin at 180 degrees for about half an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.
Icing Ingredients:
  • 175g plain chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 2tbsp Camp coffee essence
  • 170g tin condensed milk
Melt all the ingredients together and stir until smooth. Leave to cool until thick enough to spread, then sandwich the two cakes together and spread the rest all over the top and sides.
Decorate with white chocolate ganache and white chocolate stars!

A very pink raspberry birthday cake

I can’t quite remember what put the idea into my head, but a while ago I became a bit obsessed with making a bright pink icing for something. I put it on hold until I had a special occasion, as bright pink cakes aren’t just for a normal day hinnying around in a field, as I’m sure you can appreciate.

Then came around my lovely friend Charlotte’s birthday – I’m not allowed to disclose the age, and my horse years to human years conversions aren’t great anyway, but it was a special birthday, for which a special cake was most definitely required.

I’d already decided that the pinkness in the icing would come from raspberries, so I thought a plain victoria sponge would be best to complement it, sandwiched with raspberry jam.

I toyed with the idea of using jam to make the icing, but sweet jam + sweet sugar = super sickly, so decided to make a sort of thick raspberry syrup from frozen berries instead, so it would have a really concentrated flavour.

It was a little time consuming (especially compared to just throwing a dollop of jam in), but well worth it as the icing looked amazing.

Happy birthday Charlotte!

A very pink raspberry birthday cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
For the filling and icing:
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 150g frozen raspberries (plus a few to decorate)
  • 125g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • splash of milk
  • few squares dark chocolate, melted
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually beat in the eggs then fold in the flour and baking powder. Divide between 2 7″ sandwich tins and bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.
To make the icing, heat the raspberries in a saucepan with a little water until they have broken down and become saucy. pass through a sieve, then return the liquid to the saucepan and boil down to a thick syrupy paste. Beat the butter until soft, then add in the raspberry syrup. Gradually sift in the icing sugar, adding in a splash of milk if it gets too thick.
To assemble, spread a generous layer of jam on top of one sponge then sandwich with the other. Spread a thin layer of the icing all over the outside of the cake then chill for half an hour, before covering with the remaining icing.
Melt the chocolate and pipe on to write the message, then place the raspberries around the edge of the cake (i used a little blob of extra icing to make sure they stuck).

A lemon cake fit for a Doctor

Earlier in the week, I received a super email surprise from the friendly pony – a request for a cake!

The pony’s colleague officially received a doctorate this week, so, OF COURSE, this meant a cake to celebrate.

We found out that her favourite cake was lemon drizzle, but the traditional loaf shaped drizzle cake just didn’t seem celebration-y enough for someone clever enough to be a doctor.

Instead, I decided on a plain lemon sponge, sandwiched with lemon curd (the same leftovers I mentioned in the Lemon Curd Cake post).

The only thing I couldn’t decide on was how to ice the cake. Drizzle would have probably been the best tasting, and obviously the most like an actual drizzle cake, but the friendly pony wanted a congratulatory message on top, which I didn’t think would have worked on a drizzle.

I considered making sugar paste or fondant icing, dying it bright yellow and having white icing, but as I couldn’t find a recipe that didn’t make enough to ice three wedding cakes, we settled on a lemon buttercream (a favourite of the pony who pretty much thinks the sicklier the better).

Once the cake was iced (using my new-found crumb coating technique and a brand new spatula!) we left it overnight, as I didn’t have any icing sugar left to make writing icing, and a trot to the shops wasn’t particularly appealing.

However, I couldn’t stop thinking that the cake didn’t quite look finished, so I leapt out of bed at 6.50 in the morning to start melting chocolate.

The finished cake, with dark chocolate writing, looked much better, and I was happy to send it away with the pony to work.

I didn’t try any of it myself, but I’ve been assured that it was enjoyed by everyone, although I think you probably do need to have a bit of a sweet tooth.

Congratulations Dr. Daniels!

Lemon Cake fit for a Doctor

Ingredients:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
For the filling and icing:
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 125g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g dark chocolate (although this left me with quite a bit spare)
To make the sponge, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs and lemon zest and juice. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture until combined. Divide between 2 7″ cake tins and bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 degrees, or until golden brown.
To make the icing, beat the butter until soft, then slowly sift in the icing sugar and keep beating until well mixed and smooth. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, beat again, and add more sugar or milk to get the right consistency.
When the sponges have cooled, spread the lemon curd on top of one and stack the other on top. Spread a thin layer of the buttercream all over to crumb coat, then chill. Finish by spreading the rest of the icing all over, and pipe the melted chocolate on to do the writing.