Saturday, 23 June 2012

Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

(Again, sorry for the poor picture.  I was in a bit of a hurry.)

I was requested to make a birthday cake by my boyfriend's mother for a party she was having yesterday.  What kind of cake was completely up to me so I sat down with my Mary Berry Baking Bible and had a look.  I didn't want to do my usual sponge cake because that's repetitive.  If anything I was keen to make a chocolate cake, because I very rarely make those.  I'm not a fan of chocolate cake so I never make it for me.  Thus I settled on the Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake.  It sounded ideal, particularly because there was no flour in it.

For the most part it was a successful ordeal, with three exceptions.  I burnt the bottom again!  I still need to work out shelving in my oven because it's really quite annoying.  It also rose really well, but sank slightly after I removed it from the oven.  And then there was the chocolate lump.  In the recipe you have to add coffee dissolved in water to the melted chocolate.  But of course, when you add water to chocolate it hardens.  So I ended up with a chocolate lump on my first attempt which I could not use.  So second time around I just added it to the cake mix instead, at the same time as the chocolate.  Much more successful.

The icing turned out really well so I was pleased!  I've never made such a good looking pourable icing before. 

As for the topping I had no idea what to do.  I tried to do chocolate curls but couldn't get it to work.  I then attempted something slightly fancy with buttercream.  That didn't work either.  In the end I settled for flakes of milk and white chocolate scattered over the surface.  I didn't want to overdo anything since the cake is being served with cream and fruit.

The response I had over the phone was that it is the most amazingly delicious chocolate cake any of them had ever had.  Also, it apparently tastes really good served warm after being put in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Recipe - adapted from Mary Berry's Baking Bible

Note: I could not find plain chocolate that was 39% cocoa solids, so I mixed a full bar of plain chocolate at 54% with enough milk chocolate to make up the required amounts.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 215g/7.5oz caster sugar
  • 265g/9.5oz plain chocolate (39% cocoa solids) 
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp hot water
  • 150g/5oz ground almonds (or get flaked and blitz them in a blender if you can't find ground)
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 225g(8oz) plain chocolate (39% cocoa solids)
  • 100g/4oz unsalted butter
  1. Prepare a 23cm/9inch deep, round cake tin by greasing it with butter and then lining with greaseproof paper cut to fit.  If you don't have a deep tin then cut the paper so it finishes high above the top of the tin.  (I did this, and also had to use an 8inch tin because I didn't have a 9inch one).
  2. Pre-heat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. 
  3. Separate 5 of the eggs then add the yolks and the remaining whole egg to a large bowl along with the sugar.  Beat together until thick and pale.
  4. Melt the (265g) chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of hot water, stirring from time to time.  When melted, leave to cool slightly.
  5. Dissolve the coffee granules in the water.  Also leave to cool.
  6. When coffee and chocolate have cooled slightly, add to the egg and sugar mix, along with the ground almonds and stir together.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.  Fold them into the egg and chocolate mix gently.
  8. Pour into the prepare tin and tap against the work surface to level the mix.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until it is well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool before turning onto a cooling rack and peeling off the parchment.
  11. When the cake has cooled, put the apricot jam in a small saucepan and melt it over a low heat then brush over the surface of the cake.
  12. Melt the (225g) chocolate in a bowl over hot water, stirring occasionally.  
  13. Add the butter to the chocolate and stir until it melts and the icing has the consistency of thick pouring cream.
  14. Put baking parchment under the cooling rack to catch drips and then slowly pour the icing onto the cake.  Just pour into the centre and use a palette knife or rubber spatula to coax it to the edge and over the sides.  Trust me, there's plenty of icing to cover the whole cake.
  15. Leave to set, which may take a couple of hours.
  16. When done, decorate if desired.  I made milk and white chocolate flakes by scraping a knife across the back of a bar of milk/white chocolate and sprinkling them all over the top.

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