Sunday, 17 April 2016

Chocolate Checkerboard Cake

I am currently in the process of reorganising our bedroom.  Our flat is pretty small and it is an ongoing goal of mine to have a place for everything.  I became extra determined by this when we decided we were going to be getting cats as I wanted the flat to remain reasonably tidy during the week when I had less time to do housework.  Our kitchen and bathroom have both been organised so that things can be tucked out of (or in appropriate) sight.  For the longest time I had a lot of my lovely baking stuff sitting on my counter because my collection had grown rapidly and the shelf we had put up for it all kept coming out of the wall in one place (we still need to find a permanent solution for that).  Now most of the lighter, smaller stuff is up on display, and my two large Mason Cash bowls sit comfortably on top of the microwave.  In the bathroom, it's very narrow but we installed shoe cabinets on the walls to keep cleaning products and spare toiletries in.  Though whilst it is tidy, it looks messy.  There's unfinished paintwork, ugly coloured tiles, horrible artexed walls and a hole in our ceiling thanks to a leak in our upstairs neighbour's bathroom sink.  Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to do it up in the near future but it functions fine just now so I can live with it.

Back to the bedroom.  This has been the room that has been in disarray for the longest.  It is the room where things just get dumped because it's not meant to be seen by other people (though I always dread the guy from the electricity company showing up to read the meter and seeing dirty laundry and boxes everywhere).  I have been slowly acquiring extra storage.  It started with a bed, and then new chests of drawers because my one that the Hubby got me up and died (it still sits in our room though).  We've put up a lot of floating shelves, though we've only just gone through and sorted all the books (and now have 2 boxes of books to get rid of on top of the 3 we already had).  I bought lots of boxes to tuck things away in to sit on the shelves and on various surfaces.  But it still wasn't coming together.  Most recently I got a couple of picture shelves, which have some of our many framed pictures on and all my Disney Tsum Tsums.  The next step is my new storage unit.  It's built but I need to start sorting all my teaching stuff into file boxes to go in it.  

In short, it's getting there. Slowly. So slowly. I can't believe it's been nearly 4 years since we moved into this flat.  Time flies.  It will be so nice when I do finally get it all done.


Anyway, on to baking. The Hubby's wee cousin (once removed) turned 6 in March and a party was hosted at the in-laws' house.  There was to be a lovely lunch of soup and buffet snacks and then for dessert there would be cake and ice cream.  I was enlisted to make the birthday cake.  Ideally a chocolate one.  I decided to try something a bit different from my norm, and chose to do a surprise inside cake.  I picked up a book on it ages ago but so far had not made anything from it.  I went with the checkerboard because I had been informed that birthday boy liked Minecraft and I figured this way it would look like it was made of small blocks.  I ended up taking the theme a bit further by making the exterior look like a block of grass from the game, complete with green squares on top to give a pixelated effect.

The recipe in the book actually an orange and chocolate/coffee sponge.  I decided to change the orange to white chocolate.  I chose to flavour it with some white hot chocolate that has been sitting in my cupboard not being drunk because the Hubby found it too sweet and I don't like hot drinks.  It smells amazing, just so you know, and it made a wonderful addition to the cake.  As for the coffee, I left that out, since the birthday boy is 6, as well as the ground almonds (just to be safe).  It worked fine.

I was surprised at how simple this cake was to do.  Sure, it took a long time (even longer because I could only bake one layer at a time and there are 4) but the end result is well worth the effort.  I loved the response it got when people saw the inside (once I cut it correctly so they could see it).  It's definitely something I want to try again, perhaps with other flavours and colours. 
I swear I do my best work when making something for other people.  This has to be one of my most successful cakes in terms of taste and texture.  It is so light and fluffy, and the two parts blend beautifully together.  It was enjoyed by party guests and then by the lovely ladies of Markinch, who got the leftovers because it is quite a big cake (I could have gotten away with a 6inch square cake rather than 7).  I also made an Easter cupcake version for to take with me to Kettle on the last day of term.  I quartered the recipe, marbled the two mixtures, used the frosting to make nests and filled them with mini eggs.  Yum!

Recipe - adapted from Hidden Surprise Cakes 
Makes 1 x 7inch square cake

Chocolate Sponge:
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
White Chocolate Sponge:
  • 2 tbsp crème brulee white hot chocolate powder (mine is from Whittard Tea)
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 175g/6oz plain chocolate
  • 100g/3.5oz butter
  • 100ml/3.5fl.oz double cream 
  • 150g/5.5oz green ready-to-roll icing
  • Green food gel
  • Icing sugar in case your fondant gets too wet 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line the bases of 2 x 7inch square cakes tins.
  2. Make the regular chocolate sponges first by sifting the flour and cocoa powder together into a large bowl and then adding the butter, sugar, eggs and milk.
  3. Beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.
  4. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is risen and just firm to the touch.
  5. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. Clean and reline the tins ready to make the next set of sponges.
  7. Make the white chocolate cakes in the same way, using the white hot chocolate powder in place of the cocoa. Bake for 30 minutes, cool in tins for 10 and then turn out to finish cooling.
  8. Make the frosting by melting the chocolate and butter together in a heat proof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (make sure it's not touching the water).
  9. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until mixture is smooth.
  10. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before stirring in the cream.
  11. Let stand for 20-30 minutes at room temperature before transferring to the fridge to chill for 40-50 minutes.  Stir it occasionally as it firms up.   

  1. Place the cold cakes in the freezer and leave them to chill for about 30 minutes until quite firm.
  2. Find or make two square templates - one that is 14cmx14cm and one that is 7cmx7cm (mine are cardboard).
  3. If the tops of the cakes are slightly uneven, level them using a serrated knife.
  4. In the centre of each cake, trace around your smaller template with a sharp knife and carefully remove the square of sponge.
  5. Do the same with your larger template to cut a sqaure ring out of each cake.  Remove carefully.  You should have 4 centres, 4 middle rings and 4 outer rings.
  6. Reassemble the cakes by carefully placing alternate cakes parts in the outer rings so that you end up with four cakes that resemble the ones in the image above.  
  1. Spread a thin layer of the chocolate frosting over one of the sponge squares and top with a second, alternate sponge layer.
  2. Repeat with the other layers so that you have four layers in total.  Be sure to alternate the sponges or you won't get the checkerboard effect.
  3. Spread the remaining frosting in an even layer around the sides and top of the cake and smooth with a knife.
  4. Roll out the green icing and cut squares from it using a small biscuit cutter.  You can add colouring to alter the shade of some of the icing to get the pixelated effect. 
  5. Cover the top of your cake with the icing squares, pressing into the frosting to help them stick in place.
  6. If you want to, use the square cutter to press squares into the sides of the cake as well to make it look like it is made of bricks.  
When you cut the cake, cut towards the middle rather than cutting into squares, otherwise the checkerboard effect won't be visible.


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  2. Wow cake of chocolate is my dream i love this recipe so much thank you my friend.