Double chocolate raspberry rose ombre cake

I’ve been incredibly slow in posting this, so apologies to anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram and first saw this several months ago…

This cake was made for a colleague who was going on maternity leave – and as you may be able to guess from the colour and decoration, she was having a girl!

I used what’s become my go to chocolate sponge from Charlotte White, combined with a fresh cream and raspberry filling and a white chocolate icing.

This is the first time I’ve attempted rose swirl icing, and I have to say I was rather pleased with the results. The icing was a little too soft, and the day a little too warm, to pipe the swirls on the sides of the cake as well, so I gave up and just spread that normally, but keeping with the ombre effect going from light to dark pink.

I won’t write the recipe for this as I’ve written the cake before and the icing is the same as the triple ginger cake I made a little while ago, but if you want to have a go you basically need to make three times as much icing so you can pipe the swirls, and use about 100ml of whipped cream for the filling, plus half a punnet of raspberries.

To pipe the roses, you need  star shaped nozzle – I believe mine is a Wilton 2D – and just start from the centre of the cake, adding a little more food colouring to the icing for each concentric circle of roses.

It’s a technique I’m definitely going to be trying out again, and the cake went down a treat too.

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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!

Raspberry and dark chocolate blondies

Raspberry and dark chocolate blondies

I’ve never really been that much of a fan of pairing raspberries and dark chocolate – I’ve always felt the tartness of raspberries is much better complemented by the sweetness of white chocolate.

With that in mind, I’m not entirely sure why a couple of weeks ago I became fixated with making dark chocolate and raspberry blondies, but I’m glad I did as this recipe has totally converted me.

I did a quick search on Google and Pinterest for recipes but nothing that came up was really what I wanted, so I ended up using this recipe as the basic blondie mix, swapping the white chocolate for dark and adding a small punnet of raspberries.

The bars were just dense and fudgy enough to be blondie-ish rather than cakey; the raspberries added bursts of fruity tartness, and the chunks of dark chocolate were a great contrast both in flavour and texture.

The blondies were sweet enough to balance the dark chocolate and raspberries, and I think that’s why I liked these so much – I still think I wouldn’t be a huge fan of raspberries in a brownie, but maybe I should give it a go and maybe be pleasantly surprised…

Raspberry and dark chocolate blondies (blondie recipe adapted from Baking Bites)

  • 115g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g plain flour
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g fresh raspberries

Beat the butter and sugar together until well mixed, then add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Fold in the flour and white chocolate chips, then gently fold in the raspberries – don’t over-mix or they will stain the batter pink. Spread the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square baking tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until golden and set. Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares otherwise they’ll be far too gooey to cut neatly!

Raspberry and white chocolate tarts

These tarts aren’t at all what I was planning on baking at the weekend.

I wanted to make a blueberry buckle, but everywhere I went the price of blueberries was extortionate – I thought being in season made things cheaper?! As the recipe called for 4 or 5 packs, that plan swiftly went out the window.

Raspberries on the other hand were only £1.25 per punnet, so I bought some of those instead and decided to use up the last of my raspberry curd in these little tarts.

White chocolate is a classic partner for raspberry, and I had a spare 100g cream cheese from another recipe (to be posted soon) so that sorted out the other layer of the tarts – and in the end I think everything came together rather nicely!

I think some of the best things I’ve made have come about from using what I have to hand rather than following a recipe, and these are a great example of that – although the buckle is still on my to-bake list, just as soon as I spy a blueberry bargain…

Raspberry and white chocolate tarts

Makes 4 individual tarts

  • 50g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 8 tbsp raspberry curd
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 65g white chocolate
  • icing sugar to taste
  • 150g raspberries

To make the pastry, sieve together the flour and sugar, then rub in the butter until the mixture forms a fine breadcrumb-like texture. Add in a tiny bit of water and cut through the mixture with a butter knife – it should start to come together into a dough, but if you have any dry crumbs around the edges of the bowl add a little more water. Knead the dough briefly, then chill for half an hour.

Once chilled, divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each out into a circle about 12cm round. Lay the pastry into 10cm round tart tins, prick the bottom with a fork and return to the fridge for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to bake the tarts, line with baking paper and baking beans (or dry rice/pasta) and blind bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until crisp and just starting to go golden. Unfortunately I got distracted taking photos of something else so mine are a little browner on the edges than I would have liked…

Melt 15g of the white chocolate and use to brush the bases of the tarts. This will help stop the curd making the pastry go soggy. When the chocolate has set, spread 2 tbsp raspberry curd into the bottom of each, and chill in the fridge while you make the white chocolate layer.

Melt the remaining 50g white chocolate then beat into the cream cheese until well mixed. You can add an extra pinch of icing sugar at this point if you want, depending on how sweet you want the tarts to be. As the raspberry curd was quite runny, I piped the white chocolate mix on top, starting around the edge and working my way in so it wouldn’t sink and mess up the layers.

Finally, add the fresh raspberries on top of the tarts – then eat!

Peach melba swiss roll

The colours of a peach melba alone are enough to make it an amazing dessert, before you even come to the fantastic flavours.

Peaches, raspberry, vanilla – what’s not to like?

I’ve had some leftover raspberry curd in my fridge waiting to be used for a while now, and I’m not quite sure why but I’ve had my heart set on it filling a swiss roll, so I’ve just been patiently waiting for the right time to make one.

I based it on a recipe from the Great British Bake Off cookbook for a flourless lemon cream roll, swapping the lemon in the sponge for vanilla, the lemon curd for my raspberry curd, and adding some fresh shopped peaches as I bought my first punnet of the year at the weekend and they are the best, juiciest, delicious peaches ever!

I reckon as desserts go, this is a pretty healthy one – the sponge is fatless and flourless, so as long as you ignore the whipped cream I think it’s almost virtuous!

The only thing that tainted this swiss roll is that the weather let me down and we didn’t have a gorgeous summer’s day to eat it on – but I guess that just means an excuse to make it again…

Peach melba swiss roll (very loosely adapted from The Great British Bake Off cookbook)

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp raspberry curd
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 fresh peach
  • icing sugar to dust

To make the sponge, line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light, airy and mousse-like – the book recommends 3 minutes, I took a little less. Fold the almonds and vanilla into the egg yolk and sugar mix, then fold in the egg whites gently, a third at a time, until completely mixed in. Spread into the baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden and springy. Remove from the oven and leave in the tray to cool, covered with another piece of baking paper and a damp tea towel.

Whip the cream until almost stiff, and peel, core and chop the peach into small pieces. When the sponge is cool, take the baking paper off the top, dust with icing sugar then flip the sponge over on top. Trim about half a centimetre off each side, and score a line 2cm in from one of the short edges, then spread the raspberry curd all over. Spread the cream on top of that, to within about 1 inch of the edge, then sprinkle the pieces of peach on top. Start rolling from the end where you scored the line, and keep going rolling tightly until you get to the end. Place on a plate seam-side down and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes

These crown cupcakes are the first of my two ‘fit for a queen‘ competition entries (which won me third place, in case I hadn’t mentioned!)

They’re kind of a royal-ed up version of my coconut and strawberry cupcakes, based on the same sponge recipe but with a raspberry curd filling and blackberry and raspberry cream cheese icing, and of course the golden crowns on top.

I think the corgi tarts seemed more popular at the competition, but I actually preferred these as I’m all about the fruit in the summer, and I love the coconut and berry combination.

I’m also especially proud of these because I seem to finally be getting the hang of piping icing onto cupcakes in a bit of a fancy pattern!

I won’t lie, these are pretty time consuming and do use some slightly hard to find ingredients, but I think they are well worth the effort for a special occasion!

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes (based on this recipe):

Makes 9 cupcakes

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 105g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 85g butter
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90ml coconut milk

For the filling, icing and decoration

  • 2 tbsp raspberry curd (recipe here)
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 10g freeze-dried blackberries
  • 10g freeze-dried raspberries
  • 30g white candy melts
  • edible gold paint

To make the cupcakes, follow the method here (the ingredients listed above are half the quantities of the original recipe but that’s the only difference).

To fill the cupcakes, use an apple corer to make holes in the centre of each, then spoon in a little raspberry curd before replacing the bits of sponge you removed.

To make the icing, grind the freeze-dried berries in a food processor into dust, then add to the icing sugar. I had to order them in at a local health food shop, so if you can’t find any I think fresh berries would probably work too, but I really wanted to use freeze-dried for the amazing colour and also so they wouldn’t affect the consistency of the icing.

Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese and sift in the icing sugar and berries. Beat until well mixed and no lumps remain, then add in the second half of the cream cheese and quickly beat again, just enough to combine everything. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then pipe on top of the cupcakes – I used a Wilton star nozzle but any would be fine.

To make the crowns, I used an ingredient that’s completely new to me, but that may be down to a sheltered life – candy melts.

They’re essentially like chocolate buttons, except they set harder and don’t require any tempering – perfect for chocolate decorations. I’m not sure how widely available they are but I got mine at a specialist kitchen and bakeware shop. I used a roll of baking paper to pipe the crown shapes on to, then slid them off once they were completely set. They were quite fragile and some did break, but you can use a some more of the white melts as a glue to fix them up.

I then painted the crowns gold with an edible paint, giving them two coats for a really nice colour. You can buy edible paints online and in baking shops, but I found mine at a local pannier market for a bargain £2.75!  Pop the crowns on top of the cupcakes, and there you have it – coconut, blackberry and raspberry cupcakes, fit for a queen!

Homemade raspberry curd

There’s not really much to say about this raspberry curd, other than that it is so good and so addictive it’s taking all my willpower not to sit and eat the whole jar by the spoonful.

Lemon curd is one of my favourite things ever, but this might be even better. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it has the right balance of sweetness and zingyness, and just look at the colour – no photoshopping here, it really is this vivid a pink!

I made this to fill my competition coconut cupcakes (coming soon!), but I have quite a bit leftover so can’t wait to use it again – an suggestions what it might go well with?

Homemade raspberry curd (adapted from Waitrose)

  • 150g frozen raspberries, defrosted
  • 2 small eggs, beaten
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 75ml lemon juice
  • 50g butter
  • 100g sugar

Begin by blending the raspberries in a food processor until as liquid as you can get them. Add the raspberries to the beaten eggs and push the mixture through a sieve into a large mixing bowl – it takes a bit of effort but you should end up with a bowl of raspberry liquid and the seeds and any thick bits of egg to be thrown away.

 

Add the rest of the ingredients to a saucepan and gently heat, stirring until all the butter and sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, then slowly add to the raspberry and egg mixture, whisking as you pour it in.

Return the mixture back to the saucepan, and bring back to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly.

Keep it simmering until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof jar. Leave to cool, then eat with anything and everything you fancy!

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.

My first ever cake order!

This week was pretty awesome, as I made my first ever paid-for cake! My lovely neighbour Jo, of Mocha Jo Cake fame, asked if I could make one for her friends’ joint birthday party.

Obviously I was super excited and said yes straight away, before asking exactly what kind of cake she’d like.

It was a simple, but specific brief. Firstly, all products had to be organic if possible. She wanted a victoria sponge with jam and cream, so I used my raspberry rose jam and a big dollop of whipped cream for the filling.

She wanted berries, so strawberries went in with the filling…

And in a neat little ring on top…

And then raspberries were heaped on in the middle.

Looking pretty tasty, right?

Then came the final request…. Broccoli.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love broccoli. But on a cake?! Literally, it hurt so much to do this to my beautiful cake, but as I’ve learnt in my day job you can’t argue with a client… Apparently her friends would find it hilarious, so on went the lovely little raw green florets. Delicious!

I would post a recipe, but I seriously doubt anyone would want to make this… Jo loved it though, so my first ever cake order was a success!