What's there to celebrate, I hear you ask? Well, a collection of little things that are about to coincide. Firstly, I think today I will finish the main writing of my thesis. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think there are only a couple of hundred words left to write. Quite the achievement for me, especially considering how much baking I've managed to fit in around it! Secondly, I'm going Up North next week to visit the folks. They've just returned from the most amazing holiday ever, and I haven't been back since December, so it's time. I want to swap holiday photos, knit and sew with Mum and steal as many of my father's amazing photography skills as possible! Finally, it's about to be the weekend. It may seem silly, but it's been "one of those weeks" and not having to get up early tomorrow is such a great and wonderful thing that I think it warrant a raising of glasses. Many glasses!
I think you should all celebrate with me, and so I bring you cake. Yep, this is the very recipe I used for the wedding cake. You should make it, you should treat yourself this weekend because I think you deserve it. It's rich, chocolatey, incredibly moist, and doesn't involve any boiling of eggs! Go ahead...
I'm afraid aside from the finished cake I don't have many photos as I was a little tied up in making everything as perfect as possible to grab the camera - and those sticky chocolatey fingers weren't going anywhere near my nikon! I have however got a couple of the filling and icing process which I'll share because for large cakes the technique I used was really helpful.
Super Sexy Chocolate Cake - serves you! (and maybe a friend or two if they're very lucky)
This recipe makes a large three layer cake, and made up the smallest "tier" of the wedding cake. To make the larger ones I just made lots and lots of this batter and hoped for the best. I also baked it at a lower temperature for longer. I totally recommend you indulge in the cake and share it with friends. Trust me, those will be friends for life! The other alternative is to make a simple two-layer cake and freeze the remaining batter. It freezes and thaws so well that it could mean in a few weeks time, when you're craving chocolate cupcakes, you've got the wherewithal sitting waiting!
I did everything in my mixer (because otherwise my arms would have fallen off I made so many batches,) but I've written it out for mixing by hand because frankly it's such an easy cake turning on the mixer might seem like effort!
3 cups plain flour
3 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line three 8" round tins (or two and keep some batter aside)
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and cinnamon, until combined. Add the butter and buttermilk and stir slowly until moistened. Once you're now longer puffing clouds of chocolatey flour in the air (I speak from experience, don't try this on high on your mixer!) you can start stirring faster until it's light and fluffy.
Whisk the coffee into the beaten eggs (the coffee must be cool or you'll cook the eggs, a big no-no!). Then add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each time. Divide the batter among the prepared pans; each tin will take about 3 1/4 cups of batter if you're using three tins,
Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool completely before taking out of the pans (these are really moist cakes, so heed this instruction!).
When stacking I filled mine with a layer of swiss meringue buttercream and then strawberry jam. To avoid over-spill of the jam I piped a ring of buttercream around the edge of the top of each layer, like this:
This not only stopped the strawberry jam escaping, but helped with the stacking and overall icing.
I used the following icing recipe and loved it. I was worried because lots of people say it doesn't work, but if you keep mixing it does. You definitely need an electric hand whisk, or better yet a mixer for this as you need constant whipping action. If you don't have one, and don't need the cake to last long (as if it would!) then I highly recommend whipping cream by hand into peaks and then icing the cake with that. It'll make it like chocolate, strawberries and cream, oh yeah!
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
12 oz butter, softened (the softer the better in my opinion)
1/2 cup of melted dark chocolate
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water (I actually used the mixer bowl as it made the whole thing quicker and easier in the long run) until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
Move the bowl to the mixer and whip the mixture until it turns white and about doubles in size. Watch for any steam or condensation, you do not want that getting into the mix or it won't whip properly (I put a tea-towel around the bowl as I lifted it to make sure)
Add the vanilla and whip to combine then add the butter a bit at a time whilst whipping (I was putting in about a tablespoon each time, I know it takes forever but it's worth it), then pour in the melted chocolate and the cocoa. Whip, whip, whip! It might seem like it takes forever to come together, (and you'll know when it does) but stick with it and you'll have a great icing and one that can withstand all sorts of pain (like travelling in a hot car!).