So my Saturday was rather productive. I had plans to make a single cake for my friend's birthday. By 10am I had completed said cake and rather than cleaning up the bombsite that was my sprinkle covered dining table I decided to decorate up another. This second cake was for the sole purpose of eating. Also 'cause the economies of cleaning scale... saves me cleaning up twice in one weekend!
After spending so much time that week thinking about cakes and cake decorations I had a real hankering for a nice thick slice. By the time this cake actually did get the old slicing the girls and I all felt too ill from all the off cuts and biscuits so we ended up just sharing a piece.
After making these and posting pictures on the interwebs I have had a couple of friends of friends who are keen to hire out my services. For someone who makes cakes just for fun and to share the love this is quite flattering. So I have decided to add a page to Sophie Likes Cake for those in need of cake. Alas it can only be for those dwelling in or passing through the Auckland area (I doubt these cakes would fit very well in a post bag). So if you a) need cake and b) are in Auckland then give the order page a wee gander, you might find something you like.
This cake, once you have a couple of basic skills mastered is actually pretty easy to do. If you've got the time then it is well worth the effort. The satisfaction you get is unreal.
I actually took a slice of this along with me on a Tinder date. My flatties and I weren't able to even put a dent in this beast so a sliced off a wedge and offered it as a peace offering. That was probably rather creepy of me. The men and women at work ask me why I am not married yet when I make food the way I do. I think the answer is clear; I am a creep. He liked it. Or at least he said he did when he ate it later that night. He maybe was just being polite, who knows.
Patience is probably one of the key ingredients for this dish. Make sure your cakes are fully cool before even starting. I tend to make mine the night before to ensure this. When you crumb coat, make sure you leave it to set in the fridge for a good half an hour to 45 minutes. Walk away. Just leave. Do some laundry. Have a shower. Clean something. Just let the icing set before continuing. Also make sure your individual cake layers are EVEN before stacking. Get the cakes at eye level, spin them round to double check and take a large serrated knife to any slopes or unevenness. Don't be afraid to take a nice big mound of domed cake off.
Chocolate Drizzle Cake
Featuring peanut butter and salted caramel
Makes 15cm tall, 15cm wide, 3 layers worth of cake
For the cake
2 large eggs
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cups very strong black coffee (or 1/2 cup of water with two teaspoons of instant coffee powder dissolved into it)
For the buttercream
250g butter, softened
4 tablespoons of good quality peanut butter
800g icing sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
For the ganache
113g dark chocolate (70%), blitzed into crumbs in a food processor
For the salted caramel
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt (or however much you wish)
Candy bars, chopped into fingers or pieces
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line three 15cm cake tins. Grease the sides of the tins and dust with flour.
Squeeze the lemon juice into a jug with the milk and leave for five minutes to curdle. Using an electric mixer or an electric hand beater beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale then beat in the oil followed by the curdled milk. Sieve in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl and gently mix in. Lastly mix in the coffee and beat until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter between the three tins (about 500-550g per tin) then bake for 35-45 minutes. Use a skewer to check if cooked, the skewer should come out with a few moist crumbs stuck to it when the cake is perfectly cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cook for 20 minutes until turning out of the tins and leaving to cool completely. Wrap in gladwrap and leave overnight if need be. Level the cakes so the tops are totally flat and even by slicing excess off with a serrated knife.
To make the caramel, heat the sugar and sugar together in a medium sized saucepan without stirring until the sugar turns a strong amber colour. At this stage slowly pour in the cream, stirring briskly as it bubbles away. Once all the sugar syrup has dissolved into the cream, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes. Start stirring in the salt a little bit at the time, tasting in between until you reach the saltiness you want. Transfer to a clean jar and leave to cool fully in the fridge.
To make the buttercream, beat the butter and vanilla until pale and slightly fluffy. Sieve in half of the icing sugar and mix until smooth and fluffy. Add a little of the milk if it needs loosening. Sieve in the remaining icing sugar and repeat. Add enough of the milk so that the icing is light, fluffy and easily spreadable.
To assemble, place a small spoonful of icing onto a cake board. Place cake layer number one onto the board. Spread a good dollop of icing over the top, making sure the icing overhangs the edges. Spread over two tablespoons of the peanut butter. Place the next layer on and repeat. Place the final layer on then proceed to cover the top and sides in a complete but thin layer of icing, smoothing over any cracks and keeping the crumbs in. Leave to set in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
Once the crumb coat has set, smooth over the remaining buttercream to form the top coat of. I used a small ruler to smooth the sides to form that seamless finish. It helps having a turntable to do this on. Keep smoothing until satisfied.
Take the salted caramel and gently place teaspoon amounts at intervals around the top edge of the cake. Give it a wee nudge to encourage it to fall down the sides. Add more caramel for more dramatic drips.
To make the ganache, place your chocolate crumbs in a heat proof bowl then heat the cream in a large mug in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds or in a saucepan until it is too hot to dip your finger in it. Pour the cream over the crumbs and leave to sit for a minute before stirring together to create a runny and smooth ganache. Stir until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool slightly so that it is about body temperature. Spoon onto the top of the cake and gently spread towards the edges. Nudge it gently until it starts dripping down the sides and encourage the drips by spreading more ganache towards the drip.
Before the chocolate sets start add the decorations. Start by placing your largest items such as a meringue or macarons. Work your way around the cake by adding things like biscuits which have been trimmed to different heights, Fill in gaps with baby meringues, pretzels and peanuts. Just keep adding until you think you've got the look you want.
Leave the chocolate to set before taking to this cake with a nice sharp cooks knife!