2010 is the Year of the Cake. You heard it here first. You probably won’t hear it anywhere else, either, but that’s the world’s loss, I think. To kick off the concept of Year of the Cake (which must always be capitalised, otherwise it’s silly), I have a cake that is actually quite old:
Allow me to rephrase: the photograph is quite old. The cake has long since been eaten.
This was the cake that I made for my parents’ ruby wedding anniversary. I didn’t know what to get for them, until it occurred to me that a wedding-style cake would be an apt thing to make, and if I made it something a bit special it would also make a good gift in lieu of any other ideas. I also happened to have a recipe for a chocolate wedding cake with white chocolate icing that I had kept because it looked and sounded so delicious, even though I wasn’t sure when I would ever make it. Everything was coming together in my brain, which for me is always a really exciting time in the cooking and baking process. I thoroughly enjoy the actual cooking, especially when accompanied by a rockin’ soundtrack, and of course I love to eat the finished results, but the time before I actually start cooking, before I’ve even finally decided what to make – that’s magic. It feels like there is a world of culinary possibilities before me, just waiting for me to put the right flavour and ingredient combinations together in my head. Sometimes things don’t work out the same in real life as they do in my imagination but I’d say that more often they do, and that’s a great feeling too.
Enough of this whimsical verbosity for now. As this was a recipe that I stuck to, I’m going to hand it over to you as it is. The article gives amounts for two six-inch sandwiches, two nine-inch sandwiches and two twelve-inch sandwiches – feeds 150 as a taster. I didn’t want to feed nearly that many, so I did a bit of maths to figure out what I needed. My three-tier cake consisted of one six-inch cake, another six-inch cake trimmed to about four inches and one ramekin sized cake, all sandwiched. I’m going to give the amounts for just one six-inch cake and you can take it from there.
The recipe is originally from the BBC Good Food Magazine, June 2005. This recipe is absolutely not mine and was created by the Little Venice Cake Company, according to the magazine article. The picture *is* mine, as you can tell from the pile of dirty dishes that making the cake created in the background. Still getting the hang of this food photography malarkey.
Cake ingredients, to make two six-inch cakes to sandwich together into a great big cake (ie split this mixture between two sandwich tins, don’t double it):
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted
- 250g unsalted butter
- 350g light soft brown sugar
- 5 (yep, 5) medium eggs, beaten
- 11/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 140g plain flour
For the chocolate buttercream:
- 750g butter, softened
- 1500g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 284ml carton double cream
- 142ml carton double cream
- 550g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
For the white chocolate covering:
- 750g liquid glucose
- 200g caster sugar
- 2700g (ouch) white chocolate, melted
You will also need one base board and tier boards for each cake. I made these myself from cardboard and tinfoil.
Please do remember that the buttercream and covering amounts are for the FULL SIZED version. In other words, to cover the equivalent of one giant 28 inch cake (except it’s split up over three tiers). Do some dividing to get enough for the size of cake that you want – the same applies to the cake ingredients. For example, if I wanted to make a six-inch cake as given ingredients for above, I would divide the buttercream and icing ingredients by four. The astute among you will notice that dividing the filling and covering recipe by four will give enough to fill and cover one seven-inch cake, but I think it’s worth having some leeway with the icing, especially, as I found it quite fiddly to do, especially as I’d never made or worked with icing like it before. As for the buttercream, if you’re any kind of human person you’ll eat a fair quantity of that as you go along. It’s delicious.
At any rate, these divisions are just a guide. That’s how I worked out the amount of ingredients that I wanted, and I did end up with leftover butter icing but I don’t regret it, not for a second. I’d do it again I tell ya! What I’m essentially saying is, if you decide to go ahead and make the cake, don’t take my word as absolute gospel on it, OK?
To make the cake tiers:
- Heat oven to 160C or gas 3
- Butter and line the bases and sides of the cake tins you’re using. The recipe supposes that you have two sandwich tins of each size of tier. I do not, and had to use one cake tin four times, and a ramekin. That’s just how I roll.
- Melt chocolate and allow to cool, but not set
- While chocolate is cooling, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the egg a bit at a time, beating well between additions
- Continue beating and pour in the cooled chocolate mix, then stir in the vanilla extract and fold in the flour
- Spoon into prepared tins (or, if you’re like me, spoon half into the one tin of the correct size that you own)
- Bake for 40-45 mins. This time is for the six-inch cake recipe given above – adjust according to size of cake and temperament of oven
The cake/s will have a slight wobble when they come out of the oven, but will further set as you leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled, the cake will keep for one week in an airtight container, or for one month in the freezer. If you freeze the cake, make sure it is completely defrosted before icing.
To make the buttercream:
- Beat the butter until fluffy, about two minutes
- Slowly add the icing sugar – it will get quite stiff, don’t worry. Add the vanilla extract and beat again
- Melt the chocolate. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then add to the buttercream
This will keep for two weeks in the fridge or for one month in the freezer. Bring to room temperature and whisk into fluffiness again before using.
To make the white chocolate covering:
- Pour 140g of the liquid glucose into a pan with the sugar and 350ml water, and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Pour 450ml of the resulting syrup into a large bowl – you can discard the remainder – with the rest of the glucose, stir to dissolve and leave until just warm
- Melt the chocolate, then pour into the syrup and mix well with a wooden spoon. It will thicken up a lot, and if it splits just keep stirring until it’s smooth again. Be determined!
- Pour the mix into a freezer bag and leave overnight at room temperature to set.
This will keep for one month in a cool place. Like Samuel L Jackson’s house.
So there are your recipes, and to assemble the cake you cover and fill each sandwich with the buttercream (for a six-inch cake the recipe suggests about 350g of buttercream), place on its tier board, roll out the white chocolate covering (like pastry – for a six-inch cake he recipe suggests 700g of covering) and cover the cakes – each cake will have two thin layers of covering. Finally, assemble the tiers, put it all on the base board (or maybe start with the biggest tier already on the base board) and decorate as you see fit. The recipe suggests fresh fruit, fixed on with a dab of white chocolate. As you can see, I went for red ribbon and silver sugar balls, and a handmade cake topper that I constructed from more cardboard, more tinfoil and cocktail sticks. Oh, and red glitter.
A few more tips from the recipe:
- To fill the cakes, spread the crusty and rounded top of each half with buttercream, then invert one on top of the other so that the top of the sandwich is flat
- To make the cake covering workable, knead it for a short time before rolling out. Use a piece of string to measure how wide a circle of covering you will need for your cake – hold the end of the string in the middle of the top of the cake, run it to the edge of the cake and down to the work surface. Add a bit for working/good luck and cut. This length of string is now the radius for your circle of covering
- Dust your work surface with icing sugar when kneading and rolling your cake covering. The covering should be about 5mm thick, and remember that you’ll be giving each cake two layers of this. Brush the first layer with vodka once it’s been applied, to help the second layer stick.
- Once you have rolled out your circle of cake covering, use your rolling pin to help you lift it on to the cake, as it will be fragile. Gently smooth is round the cake with your hands and trim the base once done
- When layering up the tiers, brush the bottom cake with melted white chocolate to help fix the upper cake in place
The recipe also states that you should insert dowelling rods into the cake to support the tier above, but because I made a much smaller, and therefore lighter, version I didn’t need them.
I know that this is a pretty facts and figures heavy post, but I wanted to show that complicated looking results don’t have to come from complicated recipes. This one is time consuming but not rocket science. Covering the cakes neatly was the hardest part for me, but even that wasn’t as tricky as I had worried it might be. I even tore the icing a couple of times, and was able to patch it up with gentle pressing or a little patch from the excess. Go! Try it!