Monday, 13 October 2014

Everything is always better when there is cake!

When you are having friends over, a party or you just need cheering up I can't think of anything better than a slice of cake. That light airy sponge tantalizing your palette followed by the soft sweet buttercream and then the chocolatey ganache to finish it all off. For that one moment you forget it all and indulge yourself.

For me a show stopping cake never fails me, I nearly always have all of the ingredients and there is always plenty to go around. We had my parents over to our new house last weekend and with my Dad just having celebrated his birthday I wanted to create a cake that would look the part but also have all of his favourite things in it.


If you have seen my previous post about #morningwins you will know that I do most of my dreaming on the school run and thats where I came up with the idea for this showstopping cake.

Ingredients:
Sponge: Makes 3 x 20.5cm Cakes
350g Unsalted butter
350g Caster sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
6 Large eggs, beaten
350g Self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
50g Cocoa Powder (for the chocolate sponge)
4 Tbsp Milk

Buttercream:
125g Unsalted butter, softened
400g Icing sugar
3-4 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder

Ganache:
200g Chocolate
200ml Single Cream

Toppings:
Flake and Maltesers

Method:
Do these things first:
- Get your butter out its needs to be soft (ideally you want to get it out much earlier in the day)
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Line the bottom of your cake tin with baking paper and grease your tin. (*Top tip: Stick your baking paper down with cake release spray so it stays put)


Sponges:
1. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then add the vanilla essence an beat until light and fluffy.

If you have help - egg beating is a great job! 
2. Keep beating and gradually add the eggs a tablespoon at a time, with the last two tablespoons add a tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture curdling.

3. Sift the remaining flour and salt into the bowl and gently fold in.

4. Split the mixture into two bowls and sift the cocoa powder into one bowl with 2 tablespoons of milk fold in until blended. With the second mixture just add the 2 tablespoons of milk and fold in until blended.

5. Using two piping bags spoon the sponge mixture in ready to pipe into your tin. (Your bag ideally needs to be 1.5cm plain end, mine was a bit small at 1cm)


6. Pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside edge of the tin, then do alternate rings of colour until its all filled. To get the chequered effect you need 2 cakes to have the same pattern and 1 cake to start with the other sponge to start. (Tip: I only have two tins so I cooked two cakes first then when cooked started again for the third and the mixture was fine left sat in the piping bags).


7. Bake for 22 ish minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool.


Buttercream:
1. Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat until paler in colour and very creamy. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl, and add the milk and cocoa powder and beat until very smooth and thick. (Tip: I forgot to sieve my cocoa powder so it created a light speckled effect on the buttercream which I really liked, but if thats not your style remember to sieve it).


Putting the cake together:
This is where you start to put the cake together and I trimmed my sponges to make them sit nicely on top of one another. You also need to make sure that you have your one sponge thats different in the middle of the sandwich. Its also at this point that I turned around to find my husband eating the cut off bit of cake with some stolen buttercream!

Stolen cake and buttercream!
I used buttercream to sandwich the cakes together and then started icing around the outside. I really needed for this a spinning cake decorating pedestal and a plain edge tool but I didn't have either so I used a palette knife. Slightly more work but I still go a lovely smooth edge around the side.

1. Use buttercream to sandwich the cakes together and they need to sit as close to each other as possible.


2. Start adding buttercream to your outside edge and don't worry too much about getting it too smooth just get it covered. Also cover the top of your cake. (Tip: You are going to put ganache on the top so it doesn't need to be that smooth at all.)


3. Once your outside edge is covered chill it in the fridge for about 45 minutes so the icing hardens off a bit.

4. Add a second layer of icing to the outside edge and this time you can smooth it using a palette knife dipped in hot water (dry it before you use it on the cake). The hot knife is a miracle worker!

5. Put back in the fridge for 45 minutes to harden off again and start on your ganache.

Ganache:
1. Heat the cream up and take it off just before it boils (don't let it boil)

2. Break your chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl (everyone says you should use chocolate that has over a 70% cocoa ratio however I broke all the rules and used cadbury's dairy milk because I knew everyone would prefer it and it was just fine)

3. Pour your cream over the chocolate and leave for a few minutes. Don't be tempted to stir it!


4. Careful and very gently stir the chocolate and cream together.

5. Pour your ganache over the cake (you might need to warm it slightly over hot water if it isn't runny enough but I didn't do that I just poured it straight on)

6. Decorate your cake with your desired toppings. I decorated mine with maltesers and flakes as they are my Dad's favourite.


This was a huge bake for me and I am extremely pleased with the results and the taste. The cake didn't last very long at all which is always a good sign and was a huge hit too. This cake was all crafted with a wooden spoon and it reminded me that I really need to get myself an electric mixer!


What show stoppers have you been baking this week?

This post is my entry for the ao.com #aoshowstopper competition.




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