Friday, 5 February 2010

JJ's Birthday Cake - Part 1

Hands down the best thing about birthdays is cake. Especially as you get a little older – the presents become less inspiring (JJ’s present from me was a v-neck sweater) and you no longer have cool parties with jelly and pass the parcel. But the cake? That’s always there. And the reason he proposed? Because I make him awesome cakes!! In fact, this year he got two cakes (he did propose after all - and he's been very good). Well, a cake and cupcakes but I’ll post about the cupcakes another time. This post is dedicated to this beauty:
choc cake 1
If I could marry a cake then Jon might be out of luch... In fact, this was such a stunner that I’m just going to let the pictures do (most of) the talking.

So you take a base of devil's food cake and slather on a layer of caramel, then a layer of whipped ganache...
choc cake 10
I had to stop myself from eating it just like this. And when I say eating it, I mean sticking my face in it.

Then the second devil's food cake layer goes on with another blob of ganache:
choc cake 9
Oh wow. Can you see that little oozey bit of caramel?? MUST NOT LICK THE SIDE OF A HALF ICED CAKE! I did resist, I promise. Then, it's time to ice up the top...
choc cake 8
...and then the sides...
choc cake 7
You can spot that I have got little squares of parchment paper under the cake so the plate stays sparkley clean. Good when you make this much mess...
choc cake 6
But isn't she a stunner? I could have stopped here...
choc cake 5
But there just didn't seem to be quite enough chocolate! So I got busy with a potato peeler and a bar of dark chocolate. Curls hide a multitude of terrible icing sins!
choc cake 4
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yep, still not quite enough chocolate...
choc cake 2
There we go! Much better. So take away the little bits of parchment et voila! The ULTIMATE chocolate cake. This was so incredibly rich even I could only manage 1 slice. And I can normally manage about 3 before passing out from hyperglycemic shock.
choc cake 1
But you know what was great about this cake?? It lasted for ages. Seriously, it was wonderfully moist and delish about 4 days later. I'd even go as far as to say I actually prefered it a couple of days old as the caramel had seeped into the bottom layer a bit and the flavours had really developed.

So in case you too would like to give your pancreas a work out, here's the recipe:

Devil's Food Cake
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

6 oz best-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely shopped
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 2/3 cup sugar (530g)
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (210g)
1/3 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups hot strong brewed coffee
Preheat your oven to 170C and grease and line 2 9” pans with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. When it’s completely melted, whisk in the vegetable oil until smooth. Remove from the heat but keep warm over the hot water.

Pop the sugar, flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, give it a quick stir around.

In a separate bowl, whisk up the sour cream and eggs.

Add this to the flour mix and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides, add the melted chocolate and mix again. Then add the hot coffee in a constant stream with the mixer on low and mix until combined.

The mixture’s super runny but don’t panic! Just pour into your tins and bake until a skewer comes out clean.

I found my cakes took about an hour (the recipe states 35-40 mins) but then I use a lower oven temperature when cooking layer cakes. I read somewhere that the way to get a flatter top on your layer cakes is to knock the temperature down a notch, so I baked these at 170 rather than 180. And lo! I didn’t have to cut the tops off to have a nice flat cake. But hey, it might be fine at 180, I just haven’t tried it! Leave to cool completely before icing.

Caramel Layer
Adapted from David Lebovitz (the king of caramel)

1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or glucose
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

Warm the cream in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Set aside.

Gently heat the water, sugar, salt and glucose syrup in a heavy saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Then whack the heat up and cook until it's a caramel - David does such a great job of explaining how to master this that you should just go ahead and check out this post. Works like a dream and no candy thermometer involved! I always mess up caramel when I'm focusing on the thermometer and not on the caramel.

When it's a gorgeous dark caramel colour (like an old penny) remove from the heat immediately and CAREFULLY pour in the hot cream in a steady stream. It will bubble up and is SOOOOOOOOO hot so be super careful.

Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature and eat with a spoon, ahem, sorry, use to ice the cake.

Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Adapted from here

¼ cup water
200g sugar
Pinch coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons glucose syrup (25g)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

Pop the water, sugar, salt and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture to a caramel, as for the caramel sauce above.

In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes.

Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.

Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch.

Add butter a few chunks at a time and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.


Cut out lots of parchment squares and put them under the edge of your cake so that your cake plate stays clean while you slather icing everywhere. On the first layer, apply a good thick layer of caramel and top with a generous layer of ganache. Whack in the fridge while you have a cup of tea so that it sets nicely and can hold the top layer.

After about 15 mins in the fridge, take it out and carefully lay on the top layer of cake. Press down and swivel gently to make sure it’s stable. Then get icing! If you’re not in a freezing cold flat, you might want to pop the ganache and/or cake in the fridge for a bit just to make icing it a bit more manageable.

Finish off with whatever decoration floats your boat – I went with dark chocolate and white chocolate curls, which just involves taking a potato peeler to a bar of chocolate. Easy!

Lap up the praise from all your friends and enjoy!

Rosy xx


  1. So, when I gain 10 pounds from eating this cake, I can come and holler at you right? It looks soooo good. I will definitely be making this one. Thanks (or curse you!) for sharing! :)

  2. WANT! yep, I think JJ should watch it, I might propose too if you keep posting things like butterscotch pudding and devils food cake. I was about to have lunch, but I'm blatantly going to hunt down all the chocolate I have in the house and shove it in my face. Now.

  3. As someone who tasted this cake, all I can say is AMAZING.
    Maybe I should have come round for more like JJ suggested ;-)

  4. Oh my! Can't speak ... or type ... serious chocolate cake lust!!!!

  5. That looks beautiful. So decadent! Congrats on becoming engaged. Will you be making your own wedding cake, by any chance? :o)