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.

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Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake

As I mentioned in my Happy New Year post last week, I made a cinnamon layer cake to take to my friends’ New Year’s Eve  party.

Although I took photos before being cut, I didn’t get any of the inside – normally this would mean that I just wouldn’t blog about it, but I liked the cake so much that I decided I would have to make it again so I could share it with you all.

The sponge recipe comes from The Novice Chef, via Beantown Baker, and is light, fluffy and richly scented with cinnamon and vanilla – everything you could want from a basic cinnamon cake.

For the icing, I was originally just going to do a white chocolate buttercream, but when I first made it I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to both sandwich the layers and cover the cake, so I also made a milk chocolate ganache which became the filling, leaving the buttercream to use as frosting.

The buttercream is sweet, for sure, but it works with the cinnamon, and the milk chocolate ganache is a little less sweet but not overpowering, as I think dark chocolate probably would have been.

I didn’t really need to decorate this cake as it was just for me, my housemates and colleagues, but an all-white cake doesn’t photograph brilliantly so I added some red sprinkles and gold dragees. I love the finish, but I can’t help but think it looks a little red velvet…

This cake is honestly one of my favourite bakes of recent months, and even if you’re not as much of a cinnamon fiend as me it’s still worth giving it a go – the fact I made it twice in a week is testament to how good it is!

Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake (adapted from The Novice Chef’s Churro Cake)

  • 115g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 60g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 125ml milk

For the filling and frosting:

  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 115g butter
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla, yoghurt and vegetable oil. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then fold a third of it into the cake batter. Add half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and finish by folding in the final third of the flour.

Divide the mixture between three greased and lined 6″ round cake tins, and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) until risen, golden and pulling away from the sides of the tins. Leave to cool while you make the fillings.

For the milk chocolate ganache, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time, whisking into the chocolate. t might not come together after the first spoonful, but even if it splits just keep whisking and it will be fine. Add about 3 tbsp, until it’s fairly liquid but still thick enough to cool to a spreadable consistency.

For the buttercream, melt the white chocolate, stir in the salt and set aside. Beat the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add in the white chocolate and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Spread the cooled milk chocolate ganache on top of the bottom and middle cake layers, stack all three layers, then spread a thin amount of the white buttercream all over to crumb coat. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides. Decorate with whatever you like – the more sprinkles the better!

Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël

When I signed up for the Plymouth Chamber Christmas Bake Off, all I really wanted was to do well enough to get to the final week, as the theme was cake and I much prefer baking cakes to biscuits, bread or pastry.

However, by the time I got there, down to the final three contestants, I’d be lying if I said a bit of competitiveness hadn’t started to creep in.

I had to create a festive-themed showstopper cake, and knew straight away that I wanted to do a bûche de Noël – the question was, how would I make it stand out against the other two entries?

Decoration was one of the judging criteria, so I knew I had to go over the top. Giant cake board, covered in green sugarpaste, meringue mushrooms, holly leaves and berries, a fondant robin, gold almond pine cone and even a little ladybird, added at the last minute to fill a gap in the forest floor.

I struggled more deciding on what flavours to go with, but fate intervened when I had to go and meet with a chef for work – the fantastic Tom Milby from the Pandora Inn at Restronguet Creek, on the south coast of Cornwall.

I told Tom one of the options I was considering was salted caramel, and he suggested pairing it with something nutty – and then gave me a tub of the most beautiful Callebaut hazelnut praline paste, which is what turned a good cake into an amazing one.

I folded the praline into whipped cream for the filling, and made a salted caramel chocolate ganache to cover the cake. The two flavours complimented each other perfectly, and I was very happy with the outcome.

The judging of the final round of the bake off was led by Chris Tanner, one half of the Tanner Brothers who own two excellent restaurants in Plymouth and are cookery tv show regulars.

So, how did I do? Well, I won!! Amazing! Apparently my cake was ‘the clear winner’, and Chris said he loved all my detailing and decoration as well as the taste.

My prizes are a bread baking masterclass at the Devonport Column Bakehouse, and tickets to see Paul Hollywood when he brings his tour to Plymouth next year. Aside from the prizes though, I’m just thrilled to have won, and for an actual proper chef to say he likes my baking! Such an awesome Christmas present 🙂

Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël (loosely adapted from a Mary Berry yule log recipe and a Hummingbird Bakery chocolate ganache)

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder

For the filling:

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 100g hazelnut praline paste

For the ganache icing:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 180ml double cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped

For the sponge, whisk together the eggs and sugar until really light and fluffy and tripled in volume – at least 4-5 minutes of whisking. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and fold in gently, taking care not to knock the air out of the mixture. Spread into a 14×10″ baking tin, lined with baking paper, and bake at 200 degrees (180 fan) for 8-10 minutes,  or until springy and pulling away from the edges of the tin.

Lay out another piece of baking paper and dust liberally with icing sugar. Turn out the sponge onto the paper, and peel off the backing paper from the underneath of the sponge. Score a line along one of the long edges of the sponge, about 1″ from the edge, then starting from that side tightly roll up the sponge and leave to cool.

To make the cream filling, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold a third of it into the hazelnut praline to loosen the mixture, then fold in the rest.

For the ganache, heat the caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan with 60ml of water. Heat the cream and salt in a separate pan and set aside. Keep the caramel pan on the heat and simmer until it turns a lovely deep golden colour, then quickly whisk in the heated cream mixture, stirring until it stops bubbling.

Pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate, and stir until all the chocolate melts. Leave to cool to room temperature, when it should be a spreadable consistency. If it seems too thick, you can reheat and add a little more cream, then leave it to cool again.

To assemble, unroll the sponge and spread the hazelnut cream all over. Re-roll as tightly as you can, then trim the two ends to neaten it. Cut the log a third of the way down at a 45 degree angle, to create a piece to use as the branch. Place the two pieces on whatever cake board or serving plate you’re using, then cover with the chocolate ganache. To get the bark-like effect, I just used a butter knife to roughly spread the icing lengthways down the log, then swirled it on the ends of the branches.

Dust with icing sugar and serve!

If you want to make meringue mushrooms, there’s a great tutorial over on Sprinkle Bakes – they’re easier than they look, but they are very fragile – at least a third of mine broke before getting anywhere near the cake!

Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte

Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte

My ‘to-blog’ list is just ridiculous at the minute, I have such a backlog to get through!

I don’t want to complain too much, because I’m glad to have lots of successful bakes to share as well as a couple of reviews which I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to carry out, but it does mean that I’m somewhat behind on posting and only just on time for entering two of this month’s blogging challenges.

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This month’s Random Recipes challenge, set by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, was a little different to usual – the choice of book was completely down to us.

I had a little moment of panic at the thought of such freedom, but quickly decided it would make sense to choose something from my most recently purchased recipe book, Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen.

I handed it over to the pony for the random selection, and was very pleased with his choice as it was one that had stood out to me the very first time I flicked through the book – a chocolate hazelnut torte, topped with a layer of marzipan and chocolate ganache.

Which brings me nicely onto the second challenge I’m entering this for – Classic French, hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes. Ganache is the theme so this torte works perfectly!

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The cake itself is delicious and went down very well with all my taste testers – a really moist yet light textured sponge with a great balance of flavours – it sounds like quite a lot going on with chocolate, hazelnut, rum and the marzipan, but they all complement each other perfectly.

I had heard good things about Boutique Baking and based on this recipe I’m not disappointed – I can’t wait to try some of Peggy’s signature pretty cupcakes and triple-layer cakes as part of my mission to improve my decorating skills this year.

Chocolate, hazelnut and marzipan torte (from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen)

  • 150g whole hazelnuts
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, seperated
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 20g caster sugar

To finish:

  • 200g marzipan
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose

Start by blitzing the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground, then add in the chopped chocolate, cinnamon and flour and blitz again until the mixture has a sand-like texture. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the egg yolks and rum and beat again to combine. Fold in the chocolate and hazelnut mixture, then whisk the egg whites and caster sugar into stiff peaks and fold in, a third at a time. Spread the mixture into a greased and lined 8″ round cake tin and bake at 150 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until risen, springy to the touch and starting to crack around the edges. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Stir to melt the chocolate, then add in the liquid glucose and leave to cool. Roll out the marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar, to a little larger than an 8″ circle. Spread the ganache on top (saving about 2 tbsp) and chill in the fridge until completely set.

Use the cake tin to cut out a perfect 8″ circle from the marzipan. Turn the cake upside down onto a serving plate so the perfectly flat bottom is on top, warm the remaining ganache and spread a thin layer on top of the cake for the marzipan to stick to. Carefully lift the marzipan circle and place on top of the cake – then you’re ready to serve, enjoy!